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[P]
Where Dungeons & Dragons Fails Video Games

By The Devil in Op-Ed
Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:20:41 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Recently, I was excited in my purchase of a new PC game, The Temple of Elemental Evil (TOEE), created by veteran developers Troika who were most famous for their work on Fallout and Arcanum, two great games that exhibit some very pleasing aspects to Role Playing Games (RPG). In this regard, TOEE does not falter; the game has solid showing with most gameplay, design, graphics and ease of use. Troika did not develop the rules to their game, and outsourced them to a think-tank. I'll not mince words; this is no review of TOEE, although it could be, rather an examination into the flaws behind transitional Computer RPG (CRPG) that attempt to convert their rules from classic Pencil/Paper RPG (PPRPG) derivatives. I have also posted a brief follow up.


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Table of Contents

Problems: Conflict of Interest

Problems: Distributed Database vs. Brain

Problems: Bugs

Problems: Melding to Stone

The Adventure

How to make CRPG unique

Fluidity

More Bugs

Scroll Bugs and a Solution

Solution: Standards Compliance

Planning problems and a clash of ideals

Baked Cakes vs. Realtime Magic

Back to Basics

Problems: Conflict of Interest [top]

The problems experienced by TOEE users might be best described as systemic, rules based problems that were not developed by Troika, but by RPG rules publisher Wizards of the Coast (WotC), a bastardized version of what TSR used to be in its hey-day, prior to the removal of a very important figure from the company: The Father of RPG, Gary Gygax, first created Dungeons & Dragons with a bunch of people who hung out with him regularly, and it was through this intensive and subjective process that the rules of all future video games were spawned. Hit points, stats, skills and all were first developed by Gary using Tolkien's work as a solid base for story and development, following the footsteps of military styled board games, yet significantly altering the process to suit a whole new genre of gameplay: the Pencil & Paper Role Playing Game (PPRPG).

Computers and people do not think alike. Computers are very rational, and people are abstract; therefore the conflict of interest between CRPG and PPRPG becomes evident. Computers want to simplify everything and the people behind d20 are interested in complicating things in order to publish more, make more money and create a gaming nexus around a very complex system. That is inherently the flaw, as WotC does not make video games, they create books and the extras that go with them; they do not wish to aid CRPG development at present time, unless it is to force CRPG to fit a mold that computers do not fit whatsoever. Therefore, games like TOEE suffer as a result of this square-peg-round-hole matching.

Problems: Distributed Database vs. Brain [top]

Where TOEE fails is symptomatic of a lack of distributed-database-friendly rules; Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, d20 and others, are systems created by non-programmers with often unbalanced rules created on a whim by those who have no idea what kind of trouble they are brewing for programmers of video games, that rely on systemic pliability for quick changes and alterations to code blocks, object oriented design and scalability; the ability to quickly create engine-rules for design on a timetable is confounded by the flighty designs of RPG paper gamers and game designers.

Gary Gygax, upon creation of the 1st ed. (original system) of D&D, had no idea whatsoever what he was getting into when it came to standards of rules and how these rules could be interpreted by computers. The rules came with as many exceptions and side effects as there are exceptions to language rules in the English language. Over a table, this is fine as the DM chooses to enforce rules as they see fit, using the rules as a guide only, whereas with CRPG, these rules have to be interpreted by a computer server client, which leads to many standards violations from a programming standpoint.

Problems: Bugs [top]

The rule in computing is that the more bugs you encounter, the further from standards you must be adhering. With a ruleset applied to paper/dice gaming, the standards are subjective and often based only on testing in a face-to-face discussion.

Problems: Melding to Stone [top]

Troika tried to apply the outsourced rules in order to gain market share by using this bleeding edge dice ruleset (on reputation alone, as AD&D core rules worked nicely for Bioware's products), when in fact the game becomes crippled by the use of this system, on many accounts. Alignment, back-story, spell complexity (especially higher level spells), and spatial intricacies of PPRPG are all affected by the difficulties porting PPRPG to CRPG.

Character creation is indeed adequate in TOEE, and the computer uses the rules to save time building a merry band of adventurers using all the rules generated by d20 3.5; when this system is easy in the beginning, it goes all downhill from here.

An example of one problem that exists in CRPG that does not exist in PPRPG is the idiot factor, when a player does something idiotic, often repeatedly, in order to hack the game in realtime; such an example is found in TOEE with the spell Meld into Stone. Meld into Stone is a cleric spell, third level, that lets the user become impervious to any damage while concentrating. The problem is that in TOEE, the character who casts this spell tricks the monsters somehow to ignoring the fireballs being hurled at them by other players. The rule, it seems, is that when a monster identifies a target, the monster will stick with the target until death. Now if it were me, and some guy is standing there like a statue, I would ignore him. I would focus my attention at the mage hurling fiery meteors at my head and make sure that mage felt more pain than was dealt me. In TOEE, an extremely powerful use of Meld into Stone is that you can place a cleric in a room and wipe out the whole room without losing one single hitpoint. Now how many DMs would allow that in PPRPG, before a 50d6 lightning bolt from God Almighty wiped out the whole party?

The Adventure [top]

In TOEE, players set out to adventure with their character(s) and, depending on your alignment, you are given a mini-quest that is rooted solely in your alignment and not your class. This is the first chip against TOEE's use of d20; what would it take to have a mini-quest given to each class/alignment suited for both these vars?

How to make CRPG unique [top]

Considering, there are nine (9) possible alignments and eleven (11) classes that you can start out with, you can now see ninety-nine possible story threads if the team decided to take a nominal DM's style of questing. PPRPG would be able to utilize this matrices and more, on the fly, to enable an excellent personalization of the experience. Instead with CRPG, it all has to be designed in advance, and that's the problem. In normal dice play, the DM would devise a starting scenario based on even more data than that, to personalize the experience; this is where the Computerized Role Playing Game (CRPG) and the Pencil/Paper Role Playing Game (PPRPG) are separated, and the later is far superior in terms of personalization. TOEE established a level cap; the rule that you may reach maximum 10th level in your total class levels, which is indeed arbitrary and yet necessary for a hard scaling of the game to suit TOEE's development cycle. Without this cap, the team would have to add countless other systems to handle higher level spells, feats and attributes.

Fluidity [top]

Right away, TOEE is behind the eight ball in terms of fluidity; the publisher must be held accountable for this, as publishers set the cycles of development in terms of funding and maximum resource allocation into projects. While some would say that developers determine scheduling, I am a firm believer that the market and external factors truly determine development cycle. Atari is an arcade games manufacturer, and therefore they must have thought in terms of the arcade lifecycle, and not what Troika was going for, which was the conversion of PPRPG into CRPG (something that could have worked if enough time and money was devoted). Clearly, not enough time or money was devoted to creating a standards compliant core rules system that is scalable for future games. The engine Arcanum used was regurgitated for use with the TOEE game, in hopes of saving time. The result is a good experience, with beautiful environs and general ease-of-use, and all types of cubism present in Arcanum are missing from TOEE; therefore, any problems are not graphical in TOEE, IMHO.

More Bugs [top]

That's not to say Troika is blameless from bugs shipped with TOEE. Not all developers have the knack to manage their publishers on a need-to-know basis, and it would seem that these guys at Troika need to get some help in this area, or switch publishers for future TOEE releases. There are many bugs in TOEE that are a result of poor engine development, not ruleset issues; such as the video lag with mouse movement and pathing problems inherent in system-crushing calculations. More screen-flushing statements are obviously required in that case. Better/smarter/faster/stronger code designs could help, and that is where d20 falls down, because d20 is a complicated system that is perhaps too complicated for adequate CRPG use.

Scroll Bugs and a Solution [top]

Other bugs are indeed ruleset based, such as the bug where scrolls are created by players that have spells requiring a secondary radial menu, whereby no such menu is possible in spell-casting. Or perhaps the bugs found in the read magic spell are also a problem. These are bugs from a systemic base, in that not all spells are created equal in the d20 system, even among their rank. In a positively comprehensive system of PPRPG that is standards-based, I would intend to create a system where all characters, npcs, spells, skills, feats and items are created equal. This system is coming, and it's going to be very simple, so that it may be scalable to suit any CRPG or PPRPG system, and to adapt to any system.

Solution: Standards Compliance [top]

The first premise of this new system is that all things are created equal. Effects are equal to all other effects of the same level, and such effects are standardized to be simple to adapt to CRPG or PPRPG. Characters advance each level in standardized methods for all classes, and the only difference between character classes is the difference of ability and style, not the inherent ability scores or modifiers. Modifiers in classic RPG are bogus and unseemly; it is my approach to standardize these modifiers to create a general system of development that caters to other systems properly, without fear of overlap or blurring rules.

Planning problems and a clash of ideals [top]

TOEE has other inherent problems that are not remedied. Because the team spent so much time tweaking the d20 rules to suit CRPG, they failed to address core problems of their story-nodes, in that it is very difficult to get a lot of replay out of the game due to the very abrupt ending. Taken with the desire of gamers to continue to build their characters and play new stories, it would have been better if the game did not end, or it could be replayed in deathmatch, as it would be possible to dynamically create content for fodder. The level cap is partly responsible for a lack of deathmatching capability in single player or otherwise, and this therefore means a lack of robust gameplay at this time. My specific point being, if there is an end to player development, that is parallel to an end of character development (in what you may find in a movie), which is a show-stopper. CRPG must support infinite leveling in the future or people are going to continue to be bored or annoyed with future releases. Furthermore, future releases of content must be content only releases that add new areas of exploration and new ideas; perhaps by leaving quest creation in the hands of willing Story Tellers, or Dungeon Masters (like Neverwinter Nights, only better).

Baked Cakes vs. Realtime Magic [top]

The nodes of storytelling are short; the development of the CRPG conversion slowed the game design process to the point that content is severely lacking in this system and that this system could have been designed to wear away at the character better, or create dynamic dungeons and slaying encounters that are not surface-based. The basic problem is that Troika bit off more than they could chew, because they chose to adopt the use of d20, without the budget to do so. The hope is that this system could be standardized better to suit CRPG, and yet that is impossible because the system is built on a foundation of only paper gaming; the nerd factor is too severe to adequately aproximate anything Tolkien could have desired.

Back to Basics [top]

Tolkien emphasized story and content, through a standards of practice even in his day apparent in his work and depth of scale, that is entirely missing from the d20 system, and the system used by TOEE/Troika to deliver gaming content to the audience. As a writer, Tolkien did not emphasize standards over the whole premise of his Middle Earth, either; in that magic was at times cursed, and at times liberating, but not the end-all-be-all of its time; that could never be the case. Tolkien told a fantastic story, with rich level-less characters, who could die at any time, and perform some magic themselves, depending on their race and not their class; although there clearly were classes of fighters, wizards, clerics and monsters, that enabled certain feats; and that feats could be learned and studied to improve upon the lot of the character in question. Yet one thing missing from d20 is that while all characters are created equal to their rules, these rules tend to disrupt the flow of monsters, and all monsters are cookie-cut from a pattern, to likely save time; the characters are of character race (humanoid). Therefore, if anything is missing in d20, it's the standardized application of rules to all beings, of their age, experience, race and origin. This standardization must be applied in bulk, prior to any success in the CRPG realm.

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Related Links
o The Temple of Elemental Evil
o Troika
o Fallout
o Arcanum
o follow up
o Problems: Conflict of Interest
o Problems: Distributed Database vs. Brain
o Problems: Bugs
o Problems: Melding to Stone
o The Adventure
o How to make CRPG unique
o Fluidity
o More Bugs
o Scroll Bugs and a Solution
o Solution: Standards Compliance
o Planning problems and a clash of ideals
o Baked Cakes vs. Realtime Magic
o Back to Basics
o top
o Wizards of the Coast
o TSR
o Gary Gygax
o Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
o d20
o the publisher
o Also by The Devil


Display: Sort:
Where Dungeons & Dragons Fails Video Games | 225 comments (157 topical, 68 editorial, 4 hidden)
+1 (1.36 / 11) (#2)
by Hide The Hamster on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:24:53 PM EST

captures the true essence of every Kuro5hin user.


Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

If this is my essence (none / 2) (#4)
by qpt on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:41:54 PM EST

Then I am a mystery to myself.
PPRPG would be able to utilize this matrices and more, on the fly, to enable an excellent personalization of the experience. Instead with CRPG, it all has to be designed in advance, and that's the problem. In normal dice play, the DM would devise a starting scenario based on even more data than that, to personalize the experience; this is where the Computerized Role Playing Game (CRPG) and the Pencil/Paper Role Playing Game (PPRPG) are separated, and the later is far superior in terms of personalization.
Indeed.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.
[ Parent ]

Translation (none / 1) (#5)
by Driusan on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:48:08 PM EST

"I don't like computer games. They're not dynamic enough. Can I roll the dice yet?"


--
This space for rent.
[ Parent ]
No. (none / 1) (#208)
by CodeWright on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 06:26:50 PM EST

Only the Lawful Evil ones.

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
It works (3.00 / 5) (#6)
by sharth on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:49:57 PM EST

I like it personally. You might want to explain what the various acronyms are atleast once though. Also though, theres the difference in the computerized version where there are arbitrary limits on simply what you can do. Say you're a thief type character. You want to rob some random house, that has nothing to do with any quest what so ever. So.. You decide to jump a fence and see if there is a back door. Oops! you can't a) jump, b) walk behind the house. This is one of the main reasons that I'm more drawn to the pprpg, although, I'm also drawn to the crpg, since my rp skills suck :)

Thoughts (none / 2) (#7)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:17:15 AM EST

Maybe explaining the acronyms isn't necessary, as this would generate discussion and insightful commentary from the readers, which is a good thing. Some folks would know what they mean, and others won't, but the ones who do could explain them a bit and discuss.

I like your point about the randomness of jumping a fence and using alternate entrances and while these actions are taken for granted in FPS games, they are often missed by the variable based CRPGs.

Maybe your rp skills would be better if there was a system designed that was more friendly to common sense? d20 is very intricate, and many gamers play it without knowing all the rules or where to find quick info; as in, you may forget that your Cleric character can turn zombies or compel them, but you believe the outcome will be beneficial if you say to the Story Teller that you wish to turn the undead, and in doing so, you now have a bunch of them following your party around doing your dirty work; trying to get rid of compelled zombies is another thing altogether and the local merchants in town might close their stores if they see you coming. In a standards based system, you would maybe be able to know the outcome from common sense, or just tell the Story Teller you want something to happen and your intent is accepted at face value. d20 is not this way; you are often held back by the hidden outcomes...

[ Parent ]

Well (2.60 / 5) (#9)
by ShooterNeo on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:24:18 AM EST

Actually, I've got a niftier idea.  Instead of creating a 'be all, end all' generic gaming system that makes all possibilities have nearly the same 'power', and making it applicable to PnP and computer, why not use the processing ability of the computer to real advantage?

Instead of a simple system that the rules for which can fit in a book, how about having the game model physics in real time for character power?  For instance, the game would be able to roughly model flame, both flammable materials, spreading flame, and temperature as well as creating very nice flame effect graphics.  Characters and objects in the game would have both the ability to set things on fire (throw an alchemy grenade or cast a spell) and to get burned (damage depends on temperature and time of flame on character's skin which is fully modeled with approximate damage effects taken from medical textbooks).  Sure, it's WAY more complicated...but in a way, the system is far more elegant and simplistic.  Rather than tons and tons of arbitrary rules and immunities we just model something like in the real world.  

And there's symmetry : once you can code this system, you can reuse most of the code for modeling similar effects, like gusts of wind or acid and so on.

Proprietary Code (none / 3) (#13)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:47:15 AM EST

The code isn't what to blame so far as the core rules are; that's the meaning of the article. Our preceptions are being confused because the rules are confusing to computers. Maybe I should emphasize that more in the article...

Physics modelling and such is coming for RPG, but not in the near future. FPS has been making more use of that, even recently most RPGs have been heavily stats based representations of a reality, not a simulation or even an experiement in creating reality-based systems. That's because of the sheer volume of calculations for all the events going on during combat, mainly. CRPG is great for this speed of calculation, but sadly it fails in the randomness of story nodes that exist in PPRPG.

[ Parent ]

It is beyond our reach. (none / 1) (#24)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:16:08 AM EST

No holodecks yet, sorry.

Some games are starting to have slightly realistic mechanics, but I wouldn't expect chemical reactions or fluid modelling for years.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 1) (#81)
by ShooterNeo on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:39:54 PM EST

Was thinking of 'just' modeling a simplified version of heat transfer (just radiation and convection) and giving every object ignition points and flame temperature versus time curves (with a multiplier for oxygen supply). It could be pretty cool if it all worked. That, and if the game designers had enough time to actually make everything ELSE that a good game needs as well.

[ Parent ]
orig small d&d books from the 70s... (2.00 / 5) (#10)
by kpaul on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:33:01 AM EST

my uncle gave them to me back in the 80s. i wish i still had them. would be worth some money now. it was when the rules were still basically for a miniatures battle game...

i lost interest in gaming sometime in the 90s.


2014 Halloween Costumes

Well, OK, that's interesting (2.70 / 10) (#14)
by mcc on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:06:56 AM EST

I've seen d&d accused of being satanist for years, but I've never seen an actual personal perspective on d&d from the Devil

Easter (2.50 / 4) (#16)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:19:27 AM EST

I only come out to play on religious holidays.

[ Parent ]
Have you played Neverwinter Nights? (none / 3) (#18)
by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:29:34 AM EST

I'm particularly thinking of multiplayer with a live DM, which I expect would solve a number of your problems.

I realise you mentioned it, but only in reference to DM-created modules.

disclaimer: I've never actually played NWN multiplayer, but from what I've heard it's geared towards having a human DM that can make these kinds of decisions (while abstracting the actual checks and rolls).

NWN (none / 3) (#19)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:40:20 AM EST

The basic premise of NWN is to have someone who throws monsters at characters. It's essentially a game that has no purpose from what I can tell. I played the DM version, and I was disappointed because of numerous problems finding people to play who weren't inept.

What I think is missing from CRPG is the Story Teller, but what's missing more is the easy tools that PPRPG players have (uh, a pencil and a piece of paper and their imagination).

So look at the commitment to playing a game like NWN where you have to use 3d editing tools and scripting tools in order to be a Story Teller; but there's no story so that washes out 95% of the fun.

There are people who play with stats and dungeon crawls, and there are few who play the politics of the game; that diverse power over civilizations that can come only from experienced players who believe in a game that is mostly story and decision based, not rules based.

Making choices in PPRPG are totally fluid. Making them in CRPG is a totally linear event.

[ Parent ]

Not just difficulties finding fun players? (none / 1) (#25)
by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:34:37 AM EST

If so, I'm disappointed. It was my understanding that the DM could create characters and objects on-the-fly and use them to interact with the players directly.



[ Parent ]
True (none / 1) (#39)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:34:48 AM EST

This is true; the DM can create anything on the fly, but to create the same calibre of gaming as PPRPG would take quite a bit of time. Most players online who are DMing games are merely handing out experience points by dropping dragons on the board to fight... which is not at all what dragons are about. They are sneaky, aged beasts, with old views of the world and wonderful lexicons consisting of vast knowledge and understanding of things -- not 200hp monsters that breathe fire and make good trophies. Any D&D game we've played with dragons had them as menacing or helpful, yet always 20 steps ahead of any character. Sure, they will fight if confronted, but rarely will dragons stoop to the length of sword a fighter would carry long enough to be made mincemeat. NWN would have you beleive otherwise, and that is not at all what RPG is about.

[ Parent ]
See, I see that as a problem with the DM (none / 1) (#54)
by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:23:04 PM EST

Rather than with the game. If somebody really wanted, he could use dragons as XP fodder in a pen and paper game.

A DM that actually cared about the game would possess the dragon and make up dialogue that suited the situation, make the dragon do exactly what you'd expect a dragon to do... exactly like a good P&P DM.



[ Parent ]
damn straight... (none / 1) (#223)
by ckaminski on Wed Apr 21, 2004 at 12:36:23 PM EST

properly played, no army of 8 characters should be able to take out a mature or aged dragon.  They're too crafty, too smart, to liable to use that wand of  fireballs by tossing it at you and destroying it with a blast of flame-breath, flattening half your party in the resultant super-fireball as they fly away, caving in the door you came in.

A dragon has 100's of years to wait for your decrepit body to die and rot, and come back for his treasure.

[ Parent ]

Drugs are bad for you - stop using them (none / 2) (#95)
by Little Surfer Girl on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:41:25 PM EST

You don't have the foggiest notion as to what you are talking about when it comes to NWN do you?

NWN doesn't have anything to do with people 'throwing monsters at PC's', as you say.

Go get the game, and actually play it -- then come back and say something so stupid.

Or better yet, get the game, get on the net, and play over at NeverSummer - I suggest their pacific server. NS4 is due out in a week or so; you might want to wait until then. NS3 is about to be destroyed. Sad, as I have a 20th level fighter there I'd like to keep playing.

If you connect to gamespy like everyone else does, you'll find it under the category PW Action (for Persistent World Action) or PW Story -- I can't remember which. Shouldn't be too hard to find.

-- Don't criticize Ronald Regan, or your K5 account will get zapped, too.
[ Parent ]

neverwinterconnections.com (3.00 / 4) (#133)
by cburke on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:17:19 AM EST

There's a good site for finding games with DMs who know what they are doing and who care about role playing.

All of your complaints in the article can be summed up thusly:  No DM.  NWN provides a DM.  If not perfect, it is at least the answer to the limitations of CRPGs.  The path for the next game to push the genre is clear.

The basic premise of NWN is to have someone who throws monsters at characters...  So look at the commitment to playing a game like NWN where you have to use 3d editing tools and scripting tools in order to be a Story Teller; but there's no story so that washes out 95% of the fun.

You clearly have never played a good game of NWN.  That's sad, because the game is truly awesome when done correctly.  I don't think your experience has anything to do with NWN and more to do with the DMs you got.  Do you really think a DM who just plops down more monsters in front of the players and turns dragons into nothing more than beefy roadblocks would make an excellent DM in a table-top game?

A good DM is a lot more than a method of dynamically adjusting the size of the monster hordes players have to hack through.  A good DM allows you to go beyond what the engine allows you to do.  A good DM in NWN serves the same purpose as they do in a P&P game -- letting the players make choices/actions that are not explicitly suggested by the rules, and deciding what the results are.

In a game with a decent DM, you can have the treacherous, brilliant dragon who thwarts the players every move without laying a claw on them.

You say there is no story -- but there is, if you have a DM committed to giving you one.  The games I've played have been mostly story and role-play and creatively solving problems, with much less emphasis on fighting.  

NWN is an answer to pretty much all your complaints.  The main problem with it is that indeed the DM is stuck with 3D modelling tools to create his world, so much of the content ends up static.  That and the interface is of course not as quick as simply thinking "I'm going to need to put five more orcs in the patrol behind the door..."  The best games I've played have used multiple DMs so that eg one can be playing the nobleman talking to you while another prepares the next encounter.


[ Parent ]

Geez (none / 3) (#20)
by conthefol on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:46:59 AM EST

Magic bullshit is completely arbitrary!

If you want to make a video game, design it around the abilities of computers. There are countless types of arbitrary magical systems, so pick one which is elegant AND programmable. DnD is neither. Discard it. Take a page from the Final Fantasy guys.

[=- We Can Do Better. -=]

I disagree (none / 1) (#199)
by Zoshnell on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 01:02:28 PM EST

I think DnD has worked in a CRPG setting rather well. My example: Planescape:Torment. It really was open ended like The Devil suggested, but, at least to me, it used the rules as a base, not as the law, of what the game would play like. When I compare it to BG2, which I also enjoyed, or even IWD 2 which I am stuck in the *&^%*%*$ ice caverny area of death and annoyance and slowing my computer down... its an apples and oranges thing. They rely more heavily on the combat aspect and thus the rules are more heavily enforced, whereas Planescape again, its more in the backdrop and a bit more transparent, focusing like any good GM should: on the storytelling.
---------------------------------------------------- "I think there I am, I think." - Nordom The Modron
[ Parent ]
Question: (none / 2) (#21)
by ti dave on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:49:47 AM EST

Should I buy Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance for my GameCube?
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

Reality (none / 2) (#22)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:58:12 AM EST

If you do, you will not be playing RPG. You'll be playing something called "Action RPG", which is a derivative of RPG (an offshoot really). You might enjoy Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance; I know I did (quite a bit too, I might add). This is not RPG in a pure form at all... it's like any arcade game, really.

BGDA got mixed reviews. Fans of the Baldur's Gate PC games all hated it, for a number of reasons.

I really enjoyed it, and I even managed to interview the guys from Snowblind Studios who made it. That interview was at Dteam prior to the closing of that site off the evil empire that is Gamespy.

[ Parent ]

A definate maybe. (none / 2) (#59)
by birdman on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:38:20 PM EST

I would recommend the new Baldur's gate as a rental or a used purchase. There isn't much there that wasn't in the original, they added some moderate crafting ability so you can make the weapons you want, and a couple new races. If you are looking to Hack'n'Slash for a weekend with some decent levelbuilding then this game is fun, but that's about it.

[ Parent ]
If you wish (none / 1) (#145)
by ZorbaTHut on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 03:42:39 PM EST

however, the Gamecube version is the weakest of the three ports - the Gamecube really doesn't have enough RAM for the textures. The PS2 version is the best, and the XBox version is almost as good (however, the pathfinding is broken.)

Also, keep in mind that Everquest: Champions of Norrath is the next game made by that company, and is also for the PS2. And isn't going to be ported. :P

[ Parent ]

Infinite Levels... (none / 3) (#23)
by FuriousXGeorge on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:05:55 AM EST

"CRPG must support infinite leveling in the future or people are going to continue to be bored or annoyed with future releases"

I think this is something that some MMORPG should surely adapt.

The argument against it, is that newbies will never be able to catch up if you let people level forever.

However, newbies are already never really able to catch up.  The vets have more money, knowledge, and experience with the rules of the game.

So, why not?

--
-- FIELDISM NOW!

MMORPGs have other problems (none / 1) (#181)
by NoBeardPete on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 02:03:21 PM EST

In a typical RPG that has a small number of players, the characters involved are special. If they don't start out as super bad-asses, chances are they will be eventually. Even if they never quite become one of the world's most skilled warriors, or powerful magicians, chances are that they will find a way to have a huge impact on the world nonetheless. With a bit of cleverness, their actions can be very significant, changing the course of major events.

It's very difficult to do this in a massively multi-player game. When you walk into a town, and it's full of bad-ass warriors, magicians, clerics, or whatever, lounging around talking about the giants they've been killing, it makes your own achievements seem paler. When the heros outnumber the regular people, things start to seem silly. When there are a thousand, or ten thousand player-characters kicking around the world, chances are that your efforts will not change to course of any major events. Chances are that your efforts will amount to repeatedly killing a bunch of monsters, which are all going to respawn anyway. Even with a good system whereby human GMs come up with individualized story lines, any given player will be unlikely to participate in grand events in any meaningful way.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Tolkein (1.90 / 10) (#29)
by sien on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:30:42 AM EST

Tolkien emphasized story and content
You have got to be kidding. The story in LOTR is so predictable it's not funny. Tolkein's imagining a world is amazing, his incredibly simple hero story could have been plotted by a 5 year old.

And really, are the characters that deep?

Tolkein (none / 2) (#32)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 09:42:27 AM EST

The thing about Tolkein is his use of languages to further the plot and believability; oh, I'm not going to argue with you at all about how well revered Tolkein is. That would be foolish.

The story in LotR is not at all predictable; perhaps the movies were at times, but that's only because we all knew the story beforehand.

The more simple a story is, the more likely it is to be believed, and that is a good thing. By simple, I take it you mean uncomplicated. Consider the subject matter and ask yourself: is that an easy feat?

Even a five year old would have created something less plausible, and they certainly could not have created several languages in the process.

Furthermore, my point that Tolkein emphasized story and content is to point out that he did not emphasize stats, how many hit points creatures have or what their +5 flails do when they contact a 5th level fighter's skull. A huge piece of that puzzle is overlooked by the rules behind D&D, and that's the problem.

[ Parent ]

You know... (none / 2) (#66)
by nurglich on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:22:17 PM EST

You don't have to emphasize stats in D&D. A game run by a rule nazi without regard for story and content is pretty boring, but there's no reason it has to be like that.

------------------------------------------
"There are no bad guys or innocent guys. There's just a bunch of guys!" --Ben Stiller, Zero Effect

[ Parent ]
You're kidding (1.60 / 5) (#96)
by sien on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:45:24 PM EST

Have a look at Joseph Campbell, his explanation of many myths is exactly what you get of the story in LoTR.

Really, the story is dull. Innocent hero character saves world. Goes through trials, things get worse, traitors etc.

Don't get me wrong, any book that invents a genre has to have a lot going for it and a lot of people enjoy LoTR, it just isn't great literature.

[ Parent ]

You're missing the point (none / 3) (#117)
by dennis on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:12:34 PM EST

I think you're missing the point about Tolkien. He wasn't trying to write a modern literary novel. He was trying to create a myth. He was extraordinarily successful at it.

[ Parent ]
look here. (none / 1) (#166)
by CAIMLAS on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 03:48:47 AM EST

You illustrate the original story's point quite well, ironically: over-simplification results in a retarded product or - in your case - opinion. What we have here, children, is what we call a "dullard". Dullards are people born without an imagination or creativity, and - sadly - this likely means they're not very fun people to be around; nor are they likely terribly intelligent. They might be gifted in one or two areas, but nay! they are not intelligent. Tolkien wrote an epic. Epics are about a beleaugered hero winning out against all odds. Sometimes the hero dies. Almost always Good triumphs in the end. They are no more "simple" than any other kind of story. Mysteries, dramas, romances, and the like can all be broken down into key genre-specific story components. That's ironic, really, because - believe it or not! - that's how all stories are written. In individual parts, that is. You seem to be giving Tolkien a somewhat "Shakespeare"ean treatment: Shakespeare's stuff is all boring, silly story templates which have been done over and over again, right? Well, that's largely because many of his stories were (argueably) the first for western culture of their kind. If Shakespeare'd written epics, we'd be even more sick of epics as a society as you appear to be of Tolkien. Of course, i could be reading you wrong: you might just be an illiterate person that can't grasp the levels of depth which are intertwined in Tolkien's world: the language, the culture, the mythos and world history, the races. There's a lot there which isn't covered that can draw the imagination in for hours and hours afterwards. I'll jsut assume that, since you don't think those things compose a "good story" that it's likely you didn't pick up on those subtle things. Or maybe you never read the books, and just saw the movies, and are spouting from your ass? If you're 7 or so, I'd understand, so I suspect we'll forgive you.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

Tolkein & plot (none / 1) (#180)
by Grab on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 01:05:46 PM EST

Which bits were predictable?  The fact that good triumphs over evil?  If that's too predictable, go sue damn near every author ever...

Re predictable and the "simple hero story", the heros who save the world are Frodo and Sam, and by and large they do it themselves.  Sam comes through it OK, but the pressure of it destroys Frodo.  Sure, there's plenty of sword-swinging as per the regular pulp fantasy thing, but the rippling-muscled he-men are achieving nothing beyond holding back the tide a little longer.  It's not a new concept these days (the first two Shannara books copy this format faithfully, even to the extent of characters "dying" and turning out to be alive after all), but anyone using the idea today has nicked it off Tolkein. It's only predictable bcos you've read a zillion Tolkein-imitators.

Sure, some characters aren't that deep (especially the female ones, and look back in logs of any geek site for discussion of that).  Aragorn is a bit blank too.  But there's plenty of development on the other main characters.  We're not talking literature-level character development, but pretty fair for a plot-driven book like LotR (and definitely to a higher standard than other SF/F books which *are* considered to be "literature" - say, "1984", "Brave new world" or anything by Wells).

Grab.


[ Parent ]

AD&D without cokes, chips, dips and dorks (3.00 / 7) (#30)
by Vendor on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:14:30 AM EST

Part of what makes RPG fun is the part where we get together, have chips, dips, cokes, moutain dews, etc. With a computer, you don't get that interaction or sense of comraderie. Of course, the ideal would be to use the computer to crunch the numbers, but still use a certain amount of pen and paper, and have the whole thing in a personal setting (not over the internet).

You could still sit at the table, but bring a laptop or PC and plug it in, and perhaps instead of dice, write a program in Python (or whatever) with text-based input and use it to calculate in leui of the dice.

Technology is great, and I will occasionally play CRPGs, but traditional RPGs should not be entirely disbanded.



True (none / 2) (#50)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:49:32 AM EST

I totally agree. Computers really do cut back on the use of social situations found only in PPRPG, but they could be augmented to make the experience easier and more fun. Without dice rolling, computers can cut out the stats from RPG, which would be totally beneficial to the story.

CRPG currently is what you do when nobody is around to play or you just feel like it. That doesn't mean it can't be brought even closer to PPRPG, just that it's not the same. The advent of holodeck technology will bring about the dramatic shift into a beautiful realm where CRPG surpasses PPRPG entirely. Until that day, we all have to try to work toward it and understand the challenges involved in creating standards compliant rules for governing rules.

[ Parent ]

*lightbulb* (none / 2) (#178)
by Zoshnell on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 12:20:27 PM EST

I always thought that it would be neato to have a GM with a lap top and all his little gadgets and stuff on there, but the other players have old skool palm pilots to keep track of their own stats and such. Heck you don't need a clie or Tungsten to do this sort of thing. I'm now a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.
---------------------------------------------------- "I think there I am, I think." - Nordom The Modron
[ Parent ]
used to do that... kinda (none / 2) (#149)
by Insoc on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:32:42 PM EST

Two friends of mine (one who moved far away and the other who lived way across town) and I used to play some D&D in an IRC chatroom, with a bot that would calculate dice rolls for us. Was quite fun, actually.

[ Parent ]
Done that (none / 2) (#175)
by ishark on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 10:10:04 AM EST

I've done that time ago. We were playing a modified D&D (with some more complex combat rules, think simplified rolemaster). Rolling dice is fun, but when we had to play a small war between two armies, we developed a small program to handle all the dice-rolling and accounting. It was a DOS program running in textmode (worse graphics than rogue :), and we spent a couple of sessions sitting around the computer with us players moving our units (and our characters) on one side and the GM moving the enemy army.... A strange mix of turn-based strategy game and RPing....

[ Parent ]
The main problem (2.83 / 6) (#38)
by vadim on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:32:05 AM EST

It's that those rules were made to be interpreted by humans, so they're especially made to be easier to play instead of more realistic.

For example, levelling up. My thief has stabbed in the back 50 people, and as result I level up now. Then, somehow I get better at picking locks and stealing. Huh?

This is of course because humans would get really tired of counting how many times you did what, so we just count how many monsters we killed.

Same way, my mage has cast the fireball 500 times already. You'd think that by now he'd cast them in his sleep, but no, damage only advances as he gains levels. To see what I'd like to see, watch "Slayers"'. Lina Inverse can cast fireballs in different ways: With more and less power, can do it without vocalizing, doesn't need to do exactly the same motion every time (she can do it while holding a sword in one hand), etc. A real wizard would have a lot of control over their spells.

Then there is the restriction to classes. Why does being a wizard automatically imply being horribly weak? Sure you're not going to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I don't see why couldn't you be fairly competent with a sword.

More strange things include armor. AC and THAC0, for example. Somehow, armor doesn't reduce damage, but avoids it. Now, I can understand that it's got to be hard to get through plate armor with a little dagger, but what's strange is that you can get through it with the worst weapon in the game with some luck, and when you do, you do damage as if the armor wasn't there.

I think that somebody needs to come up with some alternate set of rules, targeted to computer games. Morrowind for example seems to be very close to my ideal. There a wizard is a real wizard who can decide to make a tiny fireball to get somebody's attention, or blast the whole room at once. And you gain experience at what you practice, as well.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.

Wizards (none / 3) (#40)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:42:27 AM EST

> Why does being a wizard automatically imply being horribly weak?

In a nutshell, this is from years of study in mildew libraries, the mage is weaker. The bulk of mages are very old, because their craft takes the equivalent of 10 PHDs to become adept.

The young, sexy, female mages you see in books and stuff have all changed their appearance with magic, to become something they are not; every single mage is old.

That's another problem I have with D&D's rules; they claim that a mage can be as young as 18 years old, which to me is impossible.

[ Parent ]

What about Ged? (none / 2) (#42)
by vadim on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:03:59 AM EST

From Ursula Le Guin's "A Wizard of Earthsea"? He could do some magic when he was really young. Of course probably sitting in a library for ages makes a better wizard, but I don't see why he couldn't do some exercise as well.

Mind you, I wouldn't expect a decent wizard with Minsc's fighting abilities (ignoring that Minsc didn't have the brains for being a wizard...), but certainly, a wizard could be at least decent with a dagger or something.

My Morrowind sorcerer is fairly decent as a fighter for example. He carries an enchanted ebony short sword and full glass armor.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Magic (none / 1) (#44)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:32:53 AM EST

There are natural mages, but they can not advance; they just have some magic they were born with and that is acceptable. I treat these folks as if they were the result of a high level spell cast by a diety of some kind. Generally they are not mages, but if they choose the mage path, they have a natural edge and may become mages by the time they are middle aged instead of feeble old men and women.

Same reason witches are all old. ;-)

[ Parent ]

Not sure (none / 2) (#48)
by vadim on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:45:49 AM EST

IIRC, in "A Wizard of Earthsea", magic mostly consisted in knowing the "true name" of things, which allowed you to have power over them.

Also, if a wizard could make him/herself younger, then there's no reason why they couldn't first become great mages and then get some warrior training.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Agreed, to a point. (none / 2) (#76)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 04:02:56 PM EST

I agree with you; there is no reason mages can't drink from a fountain of youth and become the fighters they wish to be. The problem with this, is that the mage would likely find fighters to be quite annoying brutes, after being conditioned in the pushy sport of hacking; and therefore who would train a proud wizard in combat? How many teachers would avoid the polymorph spell, by being as hard as necessary in training the wizard to fight with a sword?

There are indeed obstacles to overcome, in the transition between fighter and mage or mage and fighter. This logic was largely overlooked in Tolkien's Gandalf character.

[ Parent ]

Mens sana in corpore sano? (none / 2) (#77)
by vadim on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:04:02 PM EST

I think D&D is one of the few things where wizards are so restricted to being weak and vulnerable.

Either that, or wizards should be more powerful. It's clear that balance isn't good when you know that a fight between a wizard and a fighter of the same level will always end with the fighter winning.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Slight adjustment (none / 2) (#78)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:17:27 PM EST

I believe that there is one problem with your point, in that mages always have higher levels than fighters because mages are more careful; they are behind the lines like generals and advisors, so therefore it would be unlikely to find a fighter the same level as Gandalf, Mordenkainen, Bigby or Elminster. Therefore, it would be unlikely to have a fight between such people.

Also, mages would avoid conflict and use greater forces against such a foe; they would bring down the might of a whole army on one fighter rather than fight toe-to-toe. And there's always contigency spells... just in case.

A high level assassin has a greater chance of killing a mage than any fighter does, but they often avoid such contracts because they enjoy fruits of befriending even good wizards, for scrolls, spells, and other benefits.

[ Parent ]

wizards vs fighters (none / 3) (#187)
by eudas on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 04:35:20 PM EST

Aside from being a ludicrous comparison for power, that won't happen at high levels. a high level wizard will have divination magics to foresee the future attack, spells like planeshift, ethereal jaunt, shadow walk, or teleport to just get away, disintegration, fireball and polymorph to deal with him directly, many other magics to protect himself, etc. not to mention the many spells that target fighters' poor traits: the Will save. Hold person, charm person, dominate, etc. and who made the fighter's equipment, anyway? other wizards. which class is more powerful, again? and who can take it all away? the wizard -- with mordenkainen's disjunction.

HL fighter vs HL wizard comes down to "how far apart do they start, and does the wizard have Contingencies/Chains prepared?".

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Wowsers (none / 1) (#189)
by clover_kicker on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 06:19:19 PM EST

I thought there was a rule that people posting to this thread aren't allowed to know anything about D&D?

--
I am the very model of a K5 personality.
I intersperse obscenity with tedious banality.

[ Parent ]
F vs W (none / 0) (#190)
by eudas on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 06:23:54 PM EST

I must not have gotten that memo. :)

I spend a lot of time web-surfing over on the wizards.com community web boards as well; the wizard-vs-fighter debate is an old one over there.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

yeah those boards are cool (none / 1) (#192)
by clover_kicker on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 06:48:21 PM EST

A buddy pointed me to the min-max guides, that's some funny stuff.

I skim rec.games.frp.dnd. You need a healthy killfile, but there are some interesting discussions there. Occasionally you find a real gem, like this list of common D&D fallacies.
--
I am the very model of a K5 personality.
I intersperse obscenity with tedious banality.

[ Parent ]

D&D fallacies (none / 1) (#193)
by eudas on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 06:59:39 PM EST

that's a pretty good list of fallacies; more people who play D&D need to read it. it would prevent quite a few dumb arguments.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

heading off arguments (none / 2) (#194)
by clover_kicker on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 08:17:29 PM EST

Here's another well stated description of a fundamental, eternal argument.
--
I am the very model of a K5 personality.
I intersperse obscenity with tedious banality.

[ Parent ]
Gandalf is an ANGEL (Istari) not a wizard. (none / 1) (#215)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 04:26:31 AM EST

Middle-Earth doesn't have wizards in the D&D sense.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

I don't think you can say master mages are all old (none / 2) (#61)
by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:41:54 PM EST

because you (and everybody else) honestly know very little about the actual process of learning and using magic. The rule makers can pretty much say whatever they want because they're never going to contradicted. As long as things are internally consistent...

A character's not going to be a level 30 mage at age 18, but I don't see why he shouldn't be able to cast Magic Missile a few times a day.



[ Parent ]
Harry Potter (2.50 / 4) (#62)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:46:13 PM EST

But then you get the Harry Potter effect, where this kid can cast 9th level spells and chew bubble gum. It detracts from the experience if the stereotypes of old mages aren't met with some kind of foundation.

What if, you turned the experience point chart upside down? Make it harder to get from 1st to 2nd than from 9th to 10th; so it takes 20 years to get to second level but only 10 to get to third.

What if it was a matter of age and not level?

[ Parent ]

Harry Potter magic is very weak (none / 3) (#64)
by vadim on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:27:43 PM EST

I mean, most magic in HP was either very weak, or served rather silly purposes, replacements of technology mainly. The scariest spells in HP were killing, pain, and mind control.

Harry is definitely not very impressive if you compare it with some other characters. For example, Lina Inverse, at 15 (IIRC) could kill a dragon with just one spell, at turn a whole town into a smoking crater in the process, all without getting very tired.

Then she has this "Giga Slave" spell, that could obliterate about anything, provided that she has the Sword of Light. And of course, that involves calling the Lord of Nightmares into her body, with the risk of turning the whole world into nothing if it is miscast.

I don't see anything very wrong with this though, as long as you balance it somehow. For example, Lina loses her powers periodically. And other people could be even more devastating, too.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Not Very Impressive IMHO (none / 2) (#109)
by MessiahWWKD on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:38:38 PM EST

Sure, if you compare Lina to Harry Potter, she's quite impressive, but if you compare Lina to Goten or Trunks at eight and nine years of age respectively, then her powers are pathetic. So she could kill a dragon. They could DESTROY ENTIRE PLANETS!
Sent from my iPad
[ Parent ]
True, except that... (none / 2) (#138)
by vadim on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:13:25 PM EST

Trunks and Goten aren't wizards, or at least they're quite different from the the usual idea of a wizard.

A wizard wouldn't rely exclusively on brute force, and would definitely know something besides offensive spells. Besides that, they're supposed to be very wise and intelligent.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

But that's the thing; it's made up. (none / 2) (#67)
by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:29:46 PM EST

If magic works that way in Harry Potter's world, then that's the way it works.

It's like if you lived in a parallel universe and played an RP game based on our universe but were annoyed by the fact that cars can drive 100km/h. I mean, it detracts from the experience if you can go anywhere without having to travel on foot.

I'm fine with it as long as it's balanced - it's not like we're looking at realism here.
I think an RPG where every character has ridiculously overpowered spells they can use as often as they like could be quite fun, if done right (probably in a tongue-in-cheek manner).



[ Parent ]
To a point... (none / 2) (#71)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:05:58 PM EST

> If magic works that way in Harry Potter's world, then that's the way it works.

But Harry exists in our world, so I would have to disagree with you; he doesn't exist in some far off universe. It's Earth, present day or nearabouts.

> It's like if you lived in a parallel universe and played an RP game based on our universe but were annoyed by the fact that cars can drive 100km/h. I mean, it detracts from the experience if you can go anywhere without having to travel on foot.

And look at the consequences to this kind of travel! That's the beauty of our laws of physics. You can travel 100k/h, but you'll chew a hole through the ozone, with the help of aggrivated volcanic activity, and paving the world results in a lack of monsters/animals to fight and gain experience with.

I'm not sure this kind of transportation detracts from the experience, because the social implications of highspeed travel actually bring more to the table than walking to Whitby for two months, and going hungry along the way or being beaten up by muggers along the rut-ridden road.

> I think an RPG where every character has ridiculously overpowered spells they can use as often as they like could be quite fun, if done right (probably in a tongue-in-cheek manner).

Yes, it would be totally fun. Because your mage could die at any moment! You could be imprisoned in Hell at the drop of a hat... and that is kind of suspense and wonder makes things quite interesting. What's not fun is when you're the only mage with a 9th level spell... that's boring.

[ Parent ]

Don't criticise the D&D rules (none / 3) (#107)
by bc on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:34:12 PM EST

That is arrogant, they know more than you about mages.

In fact, mages can be as young as 18, because their skills are more inate, than learned. Its like being a very talented footballer, not like being a man of letters. Of course, both the footballer and the mage can advance their skills through learning, but they have intimidating base-level skills.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

sorcerer (none / 0) (#186)
by eudas on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 04:25:30 PM EST

if by 'mage' you mean 'sorcerer', then yes.
wizards are much as described by The Devil.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

The sorceror (none / 1) (#201)
by Zoshnell on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 01:12:45 PM EST

I totally feel what you are saying. I would think that the way around it would have been the sorceror class. Since everything is innate, he could have spend some more time training on martial things. But I guess he'd just be another fighter/mage or something...
---------------------------------------------------- "I think there I am, I think." - Nordom The Modron
[ Parent ]
fighter/sorc (none / 0) (#203)
by eudas on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 01:22:56 PM EST

It only takes 1 level of fighter to get WP(martial), WP(simple), AP(light), AP(medium), AP(heavy), shields(small/medium), shields(tower). On top of that, you get a free Fighter bonus feat. It will cost you 1 caster level in opportunity cost, though.

Or you can save that 1 caster level, and use up a valuable feat slot on WP(martial). shrug

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Class restrictions (none / 3) (#56)
by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:29:45 PM EST

This is one of the reasons I like some of the changes that have been made between AD&D and 3rd edition - if you want to be a sword wielding mage, just take the relevant feats. If you want to be a mage who wears armour, or a thief that can cast a few low-level spells it's pretty easy to set up (though there may be consequences as a result - the more armour you're wearing, the more likely your spells are to fail)



[ Parent ]
That always irked me, too.... (2.28 / 7) (#58)
by SvnLyrBrto on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:34:32 PM EST

> Then there is the restriction to classes. Why does being a
> wizard automatically imply being horribly weak? Sure you're
> not going to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I don't see
> why couldn't you be fairly competent with a sword.

Back when I had an interest in D&D, it was stupid restrictions like this that ultimately led me to quit playing.  They were just so arbitrary and bloody-minded.  And what REALLY irked me was that Gygax SUPPOSEDLY based D&D on LOTR (It does show in first edition AD&D, too....), but then crippled it with rules like: "a wizard can ONLY use a staff, dagger, dart, or sling."  Nope, you can't pick up a sword in an emergency if you run out of spells.  If you don't have a dagger, staff, dart, or sling, you're just shit out of luck.  You can't even equip anything else.

Umm.... hello....  what about GANDALF!  Sure, as the other reply said, Gandalf spent his fair share of time mucking about on libraries and the like.  When he returned as The White in TTT, his magic was "more perilous than anyone short of the dark lord himself".  But when it came time to get down and dirty, he'd bust out his sword and kick some serious ass.

Gandalf defeated Durin's Bane by wrestling with, and hacking (with a sword) at the balrog as they fell into the pit.  He then chased it up the endless stair to the top of the mountain, and then cut its heart out with Glamdring!  That's not exactly the stuff of a feeble old bookworm.

Under D&D rules, Gimli and Boromir would have tanked at the bridge (Who CARES if they die?  Galadriel can just raise them later.), while Aragorn and Legolas take potshots from a distance, while Gandalf finishes off the Balrog with a "prismatic spray" spell.  Fuck that.

Elves are similarly crippled.  They're not so bad off as wizards, but good luck building a credible Legolas under D&D rules.

For a system supposedly heavily based on LOTR, D&D is seriously lacking.  I almost have to wonder if Gygax, or anyone else at TSR or WOTC, even bothered to READ any tolkien.  Or if, perhaps, they just read the "characters" section of the Cliffs Notes.

Every now and again, I get a brief flash of intrest in a computer RPG.  So I download the demo and check it out.  The first thing I do is try to recreate a credible Gandalf and Legolas.  If I can't do so, than the game is unacceptable.  So far, no CRPG has been able to satisfy.  If I want to be spoon-fed crippled and incomplete characters, I'll just stick to the Final Fantasy's games, and just play to advance the linear story.

cya,
john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

ROTFLMAO (none / 3) (#60)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:41:44 PM EST

> Under D&D rules, Gimli and Boromir would have tanked at the bridge (Who CARES if they die?  Galadriel can just raise them later.), while Aragorn and Legolas take potshots from a distance, while Gandalf finishes off the Balrog with a "prismatic spray" spell.  Fuck that.

I agree totally. OMG I just spit coffee through my nose!!

Prismatic spray is such a useless spell.... sigh

TOEE has Magic Missle that forces the enemy to roll magic resistance on each bolt, which was kind of interesting because we used to do it each round, which I believe is still the right way. Still made for different gameplay that what I'm used to.

[ Parent ]

Try Morrowind (none / 2) (#63)
by vadim on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:02:28 PM EST

As I said in another comment, your abilities advance depending on what you do. You run around a lot and get better at running for example.

A mage in Morrowind can be quite devastating as well. For example, it's very easy to do the following:

  • Cast levitation
  • Hover in the middle of the room, move into a hill or some high place
  • Conjure a magical bow that's better than anything you can buy at that stage
  • Take out every fighter by simply shooting arrows at them
You can also enchant items, which can give you things like amulets that heal a few points a second.

Of course, it's not unlimited. If you mostly practice destructive magic then you don't get much stronger, so you'd have it hard to wear heavy armor. Light armor's not a problem though. Then there are things like enchanted swords. A dagger that paralyzes for a few seconds on a hit is deadly. My sword has an ice enchantment that makes more damage than the sword itself.

It also allows you to make your own spells and choose their strength. You can decide to have a levitation spell last a long time (good for hovering in a room), but make flying slow to use less magic. If you want more power you can easily take the editor and make items you can't create yourself.

It just falls a tiny bit short of what I'd like. A proper mage IMO would be really devastating. Just the ability to become invisible and teleport behind somebody's back would result in a mage that'd be a very serious contender for a wizard, unlike in D&D.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

You forgot one thing about mages (none / 2) (#106)
by bc on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:29:18 PM EST

They can only be invisible for about 10 seconds, so the utility of that ability is limited. Likewise their hovering abilities, and the magical bows can only fire magical arrows, which - unfortunately, are very expensive and the mage can't summon them.

For my money, a sorcerer or ranger is by far a more powerful character.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

Changes in 3rd Edition (none / 2) (#68)
by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:39:25 PM EST

One of the things about D&D 3E is that it's a lot more flexible in those sorts of ways. Anybody can use any type of weapon, as long as they've bothered to spend some feats on it.

Legolas? Easy, he's a ranger.
Gandalf's a bit trickier, because of the whole "divine emissary" thing. He probably wouldn't be a mage anyhow. Some combination of druid and bard perhaps, and damn high level.



[ Parent ]
Inevitable "Gandalf's D&D stats"... (none / 2) (#73)
by Elendale on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:27:31 PM EST

Gandalf would be a 20 hit dice outsider with Divine Rank 0 and some Sorcerer levels. At least, that's how i'd write him.
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
Why a sorcerer? (none / 2) (#86)
by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:55:59 PM EST

He's really not a very magic oriented character. I can't really think of any time where he casts spells. I'm sure it happens at some point (does he shoot a few fireballs at wargs in The Hobbit?), but it's not a terribly important part of his character.

He's a lot more about collecting knowledge, being wise and having connections.



[ Parent ]
Which is why he'd be a sorcerer (none / 2) (#94)
by Little Surfer Girl on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:31:25 PM EST

and not a wizard.

The two are kinda broken up in 3E.
-- Don't criticize Ronald Regan, or your K5 account will get zapped, too.
[ Parent ]

Uh (none / 2) (#142)
by wurp on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 03:00:35 PM EST

Wizard is the one who gathers knowledge, sorceror is the one who just "does magic".  In 3E D&D.
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
Yeah, thanks. (none / 2) (#143)
by Little Surfer Girl on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 03:20:38 PM EST

I was cramping.
-- Don't criticize Ronald Regan, or your K5 account will get zapped, too.
[ Parent ]
Two reasons... (none / 3) (#122)
by Elendale on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:14:25 AM EST

First reason: it seems to fit better than Wizard (ironically enough) with the way magic works in Tolkien's books. Secondly, Gandalf was prohibited from using his magic to directly influence events in Middle Earth. The proposition is that if he didn't have to abide by this sort of restriction, Gandalf would indeed match (or at least, compare favorably to) Sauron in explicit might.
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
Gandalf (none / 2) (#103)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 08:57:51 PM EST

I believe that Gandalf is a high priest of two dieties; he uses turning on the bridge against the Balrog that results in the Balrog falling (instead of cowering or fleeing).

Sorcerer... I could see that too. He never uses components. But more than that, he is always concerned about the use of magic, and he is cautious about it. That shows great wisdom, and it's what makes his character so amazing as a base for all high level wizards, sorcerers or clerics.

[ Parent ]

Heh, credible Legolas (none / 1) (#72)
by Elendale on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:25:16 PM EST

"Elves are similarly crippled. They're not so bad off as wizards, but good luck building a credible Legolas under D&D rules."

He'd only have a 35 or 40 Dexterity under the d20 rules... well, that's the movie version at least...


---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
There is a difference (none / 2) (#164)
by Mycroft_VII on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 01:03:57 AM EST

Well Tolkien's characters were NOT begginers in thier crafts (and Gandalf was a special case, a semi-devine being). D&D and all other RPG's (note the meaning of the acronym) start you at the, well, start. Do you think Aragorn was such a bad-@ss when he was just starting out in life at about sy 18? do you think Legolas was born able to do all that awsome archery? Also when your creating a game there is such a thing as balance, you can as an author do things to make a less powerfull Frodo as interesting or somtimes more so than a near god such as Mithrandar. How many people would play a halfling If Elves were typically as far above them in power as Legolas is above Sam? (even when you take into account Legolas being an epic level character whereas the Hobbits were not even 1st level at the start of the story) Now I can create a 'rules leagle' character at or near thier capabilities (with the advent of epic levels I can create an Elven archer that would Legolas look like a clumsy blind man), but not at 1st level. And having Played and gm'd for over 20 years I can definately say working your way up to that point humble beggining makes it worth it, and by then you don't just have an uber giant killer with a +3 vorbal blade of kick-@ss, you have legendary Hero, and you know every inch of where those legends really come from. You have a Story. Though I do agree about the over strict weapons & Armour rules in 1st were a bit of a bad balancing kluge, but that was years ago in the early days of rpgs. Mycroft

[ Parent ]
Third Edition (none / 3) (#84)
by Graymalkin on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:14:42 PM EST

Since the advent of the Third Edition rules (3E) in AD&D working with the game is much more flexible than it ever used to be. I think one of the biggest conceptual differences is that in 3E the rules allow you to make a character you might make in a fantasy novel. It is entirely possible to create a legal magic wielding thief or a skull bashing wizard.

The use of feats and prestige classes allows a player to customize their characters to a very fine degree. A wizard can take a weapon proficiency feat and become every bit as competent as a fighter with a sword. A player and DM can get together to work out a prestige class that would take advantage of that sword wielding wizard to give her a few extra bonuses and to further personalize her.

The AC system in AD&D can make a lot more sense to players if the DM is creative. A character's AC score represents her ability to avoid damage, either being covered with protective plates or being nimble or even a combination of the two. AC doesn't necessarily mean the attacker is always missing, they just aren't doing mortal damage. Say a character is in full plate armor and get hit in the breastplate with a sword blow. It will likely hurt like hell but not render the character in two. That would be a case of a failed attack. On the next attack the blade finds a hole in the armor and the defender ends up with a serious cut in her side. That would be a successful attack roll.

In the D20 Star Wars RPG there's a slightly different system where the armor provides damage reduction. In the SW system a character has vitality points and wound points and defense. The Defense score is calculated as 10 + Dex Mod + Size Mod which sets an attackers difficulty roll in order to land an attack. Once an attack does land it takes away from a character's Vitality points which are calculated based on the character's level a là hit points. Once the Vitality points are gone damage is done to the character's Wound points which are based on their Constitution score. Wound point damage is real physical trauma where Vitality points are a measure of your ability to roll with the punches. At -10 Wound points the character is dead. A critical hit in this system deals damage directly to the character's Wound points. Armor in SWRPG reduces the amount of non-critical hit damage a character takes.

In the Star Wars system fights against extremely strong monsters or other characters will kill your character quickly. A critical hit by a powerful enough creature will drop even a high level character in one blow. While this is more realistic it makes for unfun role playing in fantasy environments. It works alright in the SWRPG because you're rarely going up against enemies that are significantly stronger than you are and you've got high-technology armor and equipment to protect your pink ass. In a D&D setting this sort of system wouldn't work out so well (it really doesn't) because you're typically fighting against non-human super creatures instead of NPC thugs. They would waste you in nothing flat which wouldn't make for long RP sessions.

In the new 3.5 rules for D&D there are better rules for Damage Reduction and Spell Resistance which both reduce damage from their respective attack methods. DR and SR can pretty easily be added to armors and the like based on their material type or magical enhancements. The only caveat is the DM needs to be very careful how much resistance characters have against attacks lest no game will challenge them.

[ Parent ]

Yes, the 3rd edition is better (none / 2) (#87)
by vadim on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:09:01 PM EST

IIRC, that's what's used in NWN, and that was fairly nice. However, it still has a few problems.

The "feats" system still looks very artificial. I mean, there's no reason why anybody couldn't use a weapon, excepting physical constraints. Even a 10 year old probably could swing a katana, although doing it badly due to the excessive weight, size, and lack to skill.

The same skill problem remains. I cast lots of fireballs, and in the end somehow I suddenly get more powerful overall, and gain a point of charisma by the way. Killing people makes me better at talking? Wow. I really like the idea that doing magic makes me better at magic, and dealing with people makes me better at dealing with people.

In Morrowind, I can wear heavy armor without having any skill for it, with the immediately obvious drawback - the thing is heavy as heck and I can't wear a full set of it, or I won't make even one step.

Of course, Morrowind has its own weird things. The same armor, for example, gives a variable protection that depends on the armor itself, and your skill. Although I suppose it makes sense. I can wear heavy armor, but it's so heavy that I can't move properly with it, so it offers plenty opportunities to the attacker, even if it protects better. The idea's probably that when you get used to your armor you learn how to use it effectively - moving in such a way that a blow slides off or something for example.

BTW, D&D has plenty creatures that will crush whole teams on inexperienced players easily. A low level team would almost certainly lose against even one vampire, lich, dragon or mind flayer.

--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Feats et al (none / 2) (#123)
by Graymalkin on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:55:19 AM EST

I don't really see the feats system as artificial as long as you keep the feats within the context of the story. You give the exotic weapon proficiency feat as an example. That feat is probably going to be taken by a character who has some sort of martial training. So if you've got a wizard who's been traveling with a fighter they might have enough exposure to the fighter's use of a katana to at least be familiar enough to handle one in battle. The small child who is using the katana without proficiency is going to suffer from using the weapon without training, just as the game rules indicate they should.

The same sort of things goes with leveling up. You shouldn't be getting experience just for casting fireballs, it should be for role playing and growing as a character. A good DM won't give you a flat amount of experience for casting x number of fireballs. If you crater a monster with one you ought to get some experience but for the forth casting the experience shouldn't be as much since it is a extremely familiar action. If you cast a fireball creatively or change an aspect of the spell within character you should be rewarded with experience. As for your Charisma gaining a point when you level up, you can easily explain that away in character. Again a good DM ought to guide you when you level up saying you've used a lot of magic to gain this level so you ought to gain an intelligence point instead of strength.

D&D as similar functionality with armor. Heavier armor limits the maximum Dexterity bonus. Some characters are all but useless when wearing armor. Monks tend to have amazingly high dexterity and have class features that enhance their AC to the point where armor would just ruin them. They avoid damage from attacks by being nimble rather than using bulky armor. They're interesting characters to play because of this. A monk with a couple AC bonus rings can last as long in a fight as a fully armed and equipped fighter.

I think you've had far too much experience with CRPGs that can only work by literal rules rather than with a flesh and blood DM who should add a semblance of control and structure to the game. RPGs are basically interactive stories, if you're playing a CRPG which only replicate's a game's mechanics you're not getting the full experience of a pen and paper RPG. While NWN and its kin are really nice games they fail in the respect that they are not as fluid and organic as a tabletop RPG will end up being.

[ Parent ]

But see... (none / 2) (#132)
by vadim on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 10:34:54 AM EST

What I'm saying that D&D is all nice and good, but it wasn't made for computers, but for dungeon masters. Yes, if you're playing in the real world, the DM almost certainly won't let you just walk around blasting people with fireballs. But this is exactly the kind of thing you do in computer games!

IMHO, a computer RPG works much better with a system like the one Morrowind uses.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

weapon/armor proficiencies (none / 0) (#185)
by eudas on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 04:21:37 PM EST

in all actuality, that's one annoying thing about NWN.

In D&D 3.x, any character can use any weapon or armor. If they are not proficient with a weapon, they take a -4 modifier to attack rolls; if they are not proficient with an armor, they take an Armor Check Penalty modifier to attack rolls (which is based upon the armor type).

In NWN, a character cannot use anything that they do not have a proficiency for. (Lame.)

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

"Feats" (none / 2) (#202)
by Zoshnell on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 01:22:51 PM EST

The feats, unfortunately, do seem really tacked onto the system. IMHO, I think they saw the same thing out of GURPS and just added it on myself.
---------------------------------------------------- "I think there I am, I think." - Nordom The Modron
[ Parent ]
Metamagic (none / 1) (#207)
by Graymalkin on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 05:33:42 PM EST

I've always thought the feats in D20 were pretty integral to the system as a whole. The D20 SWRPG adapted the old West End system by making Force sensitivity a feat that anyone could take but Jedi characters were given for free. Instead of the kludgy "extra skills" Force system in the D6 game the D20 Force powers work well in the skill system.

Even D&D makes good use of feats and skills. Non-magical feats in D&D cover natural abilities or traits. It would be difficult to give someone an ambidextrous skill because that is a natural ability. Picking locks however is a learned ability. Sometimes it seems Metamagic feats were tacked on but I think they were made feats so they weren't some special case rule. The rules in 3E are an attempt to get away from the multitude of special case rules that cropped up in 2E.

[ Parent ]

feats (none / 0) (#220)
by eudas on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 11:50:57 PM EST

actually, if you played Fallout or Fallout 2, the abilities/feats/skills in d20 strongly reminds me of stats/perks/skills in the Fallout engine.

it was a good design, and it strikes me that d20 made a good move to follow a similar method.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

My bad (none / 1) (#221)
by Zoshnell on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 04:40:44 PM EST

Yeah, I meant the SPECIAL system in Fallout, the perks, not GURPS. Whoops! God you would think I would remember that too; as I am playing through Fallout 2 again right now.
---------------------------------------------------- "I think there I am, I think." - Nordom The Modron
[ Parent ]
RE: Class Restrictions (none / 1) (#153)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 05:21:04 PM EST

Really alot of this stuff revolves around the difference between class based systems and skill based systems. There is actualy nothing about D&D that specifies you can't have an 18 strength wizard. It's just that characters (like real people) will tend to choose career that is complimented by their personal attributes.

The idea about Wizards and weapon and armor use restructions is not that they are physicaly incapable of wielding them.... just that they don't have enough training and experience to be particularly competent in doing so. There is nothing to say that they couldn't acquire such training and experience.... but if they did, they really wouldn't be training as a Wizard anymore, they'd be training as some other class. Just like you would find it very difficult to train as a competent neuro-surgeon, proffesional football player and commercial jetliner pilot all at the same time. Although it's far from my favorite system I don't think 3rd Edition with the ability to choose feats and multi-class doesn't reflect that too badly.

I share your other frustrations with D&D though. It's why I've always tended to play other systems, often homegrown stuff.

[ Parent ]

It's the overspecialization what I don't like (none / 1) (#174)
by vadim on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 09:14:00 AM EST

Okay, try in BG2 for example to have a good sorceress that's competent with a bow. She maybe can pick it up, but will utterly worthless with it.

Fine, she dedicated her life so far to magic. But why does she continue to suck at it after finishing the game with it as the primary weapon? I could give her more dexterity points, but then I'd end with a average sorceress with rather bad archery skills. What I want is a good sorceress that's not exclusively limited to magic. Multiclassing just seems like a strange patch to this problem. It works, but it's really unintuitive.

A neuro-surgeon might never become a professional soccer player, but I don't see any reason why he can't be at least decent at it. After all, surgeons do other things besides operating. The same way, I'd expect that a wizard would do something besides sitting in the library all day, just in case they find themselves in a situation they can't get out by using magic.

This is why I like Morrowind. There a sorcerer can get quite competent with a bow, or even heavy armor given enough time. It adds lots of new strategies that don't exist in D&D.

I can enter a building, cast levitate, move to some place where the fighters can't reach me and shoot arrows at them. I can enchant my sword with a spell of paralysis and beat them up in direct combat. Given enough effort, I can wear the heaviest armor in the game, perhaps enchanting it to make it lighter. I can even make magical objects that will keep healing me, so that I can suddenly decide in mid-game that I'm tired of fireballs and want to use a long sword now. The magic will keep me alive while I'm learning.

Also, I'm not limited to N fireballs per day. Where's this strange idea from? That a Wizard, such a specialist is so incredibly restricted that she can't cast just one fireball more, no matter how much she wants it? Morrowind does it right again, you make your spells. You can decide to blast people with fire, ice and electricity all at once, make tiny fireballs and huge ones. Maybe the only thing missing is the ability to accelerate casting by using more mana.

The only thing in Morrowind I don't like is that mana is only replenished by sleeping. I'd prefer instead some system of non-regenerating exhaustion that required me to sleep periodically. It'd be interesting to have to sleep because I have to, and not because I ran out of mana.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Mana vs. Memorization(or compnent gathering) (none / 2) (#204)
by Zoshnell on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 01:34:02 PM EST

I think that comparing DnD's magic system with a mana or Final Fantasy type system is definately apples and oranges. In the DnD universe; its kinda like how witches and wiccans who cast spells in rl are; they gather these components and concentrate deeply to cast their spells. Sorcerors still have to focus, and can only do so much in any given day or some such. I think that Morrowind relies on more that everything is tied in with the mana, kinda like the force, and you just recharge by chilling for a bit, it just doesn't require a whole night to prepare :)

did I just get all sorts of metaphysical?
---------------------------------------------------- "I think there I am, I think." - Nordom The Modron
[ Parent ]
vancian -> mana (none / 0) (#205)
by eudas on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 01:35:35 PM EST

mana is just a finer-grained variation of the vancian (i believe it is called that; based off of the writings of jack vance) magic system.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Really? (none / 1) (#209)
by Zoshnell on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 06:54:19 PM EST

I was not aware of where the idea came from. Who is this Jack Vance you speak of?
---------------------------------------------------- "I think there I am, I think." - Nordom The Modron
[ Parent ]
the vancian magic system (none / 0) (#210)
by eudas on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 09:23:35 PM EST

see the link found in this comment:
http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2004/4/10/231927/504/195#195

Jack vance appears to be an author who wrote some books that the original creators of D&D based some of their design on.

also, some commentary (very much mixed in with discussion on other topics, so don't expect much clarity on Jack Vance himself) on the wizards.com boards:
http://boards1.wizards.com/search.php?s=&action=showresults&searchid=536 449&sortby=lastpost&sortorder=descending

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

also (none / 0) (#211)
by eudas on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 09:25:35 PM EST

other sources may have more information:
http://www.google.com/search?q=influence+of+jack+vance+on+D%26D&sourceid=ope ra&num=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Much appreciated(nt) (none / 1) (#219)
by Zoshnell on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 07:05:30 PM EST


---------------------------------------------------- "I think there I am, I think." - Nordom The Modron
[ Parent ]
Good points but ... (3.00 / 17) (#52)
by Ranieri on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:05:33 PM EST

I can't believe people still get upset over the inability of a computer to deliver "true roleplay experience". It's been nearly twenty years of roughly uniform rants, perhaps it's time to give it a rest 'ey?

It's fairly easy to see that in order to have a computer run (as opposed to computer mediated) RP campaign, we'd have to have near-Turing levels of AI. That's a rather tall order for the near future. In the meantime we'll be stuck with a glitzy 3D version of "choose your adventure" books. As much as I used to love "lone wolf" (and, indeed Baldur's Gate), they are a far cry from a campaign with a live DM. On the other hand, if well written, they can stack up well against other solitary entertainment. Games like KoTOR are more or less linear, but they manage to tell a pretty good story. It's not RP, but it's good fun.

On the other hand, computer mediated RP is alive and well. There are a bunch of options, ranging from augmented IRC clients to full graphical environments and, I'm happy to report from first person experience, they can both be made to work effectively with some effort and a few good players. The emphasis, just like with PnP, is on immagination and dialogue. Whether you use the NWN clients to posses one of your ancient red dragons and talk to the group, or you type "The red dragon says: '.....'" or you scream it into a Roger Wilco type device, with good players and a good DM the thing will work.
Besides, I have found that textual roleplay -- abstracting all visual clues -- can be an order of magnitude more intense than face-to-face. You get minute control over all aspects of the communication and, if used properly, character immersion can be scarily deep. Obvious downside is that it can be a whole of a lot slower, especially with inexperienced typists.

Finding good people to play with, whether online or off, is always the biggest challenge. It took me about a decade to assemble my current PnP group. Six months of hits and misses to hook up with some guys I really like to play with on line.

If I could leave the author with one piece of advice, it would be to stop being bitter at battles past, and see what the online RP world has to offer. You'll be amazed.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!

Insightful and interesting (none / 3) (#55)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:27:21 PM EST

The bulk of your post I do happen to agree with, although the premise of the article is to examine what is currently wrong with CRPG to get a sense of what it will take to fix it.

There are two points I happen to disagree with and I'll address them:

> it's time to give it a rest 'ey?

Sadly, CRPG are never going to get any better unless pressure is placed against development studios to adopt standards. I'm not belly-aching here. It's just a fact that without articles about how things ought to be, no changes will be made.

> roughly uniform rants

I don't see my article as a rant at all. It's an examination of the way things are and the way they could be and the result of that change. What's wrong with that?

The scope of the article does not involve current clients for PPRPG with computer augmentation, but an examination at the flaws of CRPG and what could be reasonably done to get better results. I hope you understand that I am not trying to regurgitate old arguements, but enforce the need for RPG standards that can be applied to any RPG game, CRPG, PPRPG or augmented.

[ Parent ]

man (1.00 / 10) (#82)
by Penrod Pooch on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:45:08 PM EST

do you have a PhD in boringology?

Heh (none / 2) (#90)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:11:41 PM EST

No, but I have a foot that might fit in your ass.

[ Parent ]
-1 pasty role-playing dork (none / 2) (#93)
by Penrod Pooch on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:30:53 PM EST

Dude, My cat can beat up total nerds like you.

[ Parent ]
Figures... (none / 1) (#97)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:58:30 PM EST

> Dude, My cat can beat up total nerds like you.

It Figures...
   That you'd need a pussy to fight your battles.

[ Parent ]

How would you know (none / 2) (#99)
by Penrod Pooch on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 08:12:15 PM EST

Guys like you has usaully never seen one.

[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 1) (#101)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 08:46:59 PM EST

> Guys like you has usaully never seen one.

Guys like you has tense problems.

Just give it a rest... 10/4 good buddy, over and out.

[ Parent ]

-1 criticises d20 system (none / 2) (#105)
by bc on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:20:58 PM EST

The d20 system is not as simplistic as you make out, it has many subtleties, and is not a cookie-cut system. In fact, it better represents the vicissitudes of the real CRPG realm than alternatives.

♥, bc.
Thoughts (none / 1) (#110)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:39:04 PM EST

> The d20 system is not as simplistic as you make out

Perhaps, you misunderstood. I think the d20 system is too complicated.

> and is not a cookie-cut system

I never said it was a cookie-cut system; I said that monsters are cookie cut, which means that if you run into one Red Dragon (Great Wyrm), he's going to be nearly statistically identical to all other Red Dragons, and have a hell of a lot of power to boot.

Now there is a really good reason I said this: I believe that all monsters should be like characters of their own. They should all have souls of their own. Roll up a character who is a Sorcerer, and you can make all kinds of intricate decisions about how that characters is. I believe that monsters should be handled the exact same way, not punched out of a mold. Maybe I should have explained this further, and it might make a good follow-up piece.

> better represents the vicissitudes of the real CRPG realm than alternatives

Can you rephrase this so I can get a better idea of your meaning? I think you mean to say that d20 is a great respresentation of CRPG, but that doesn't fly with me because how can a rules system represent a CRPG system? They are two systems that have to coexist... but they can't represent eachother.

Maybe in a less literal interpretation, perhaps you mean to say that the d20 system fires the CRPGs that it's available on? That would be your opinion and although unsubstantiated, it is still good because quite a few companies have used the d20 system, and that must be pretty damn cool.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of d20 but I believe it requires some standards to be applied to it that would make it even better! And that is the whole thrust of this article. :)

[ Parent ]

The d20 system is sheer perfection (none / 2) (#113)
by bc on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:47:47 PM EST

You stated that it results in cookie cut monsters and is too complicated, but the d20 system is at the core of every d&d technology since the 70s. Getting rid of it would be like getting rid of tolkien. It would be a disaster for d&ders everywhere, and result in a shallow system.

The point of d&d is not to be in a rule based system. it is to be in a system that, though based on rules, feels free and utterly flexible and realistic. d20 gives this to the masses, and alternatives impose hackneyed rulesets that people must consciously work around.

I might go so far as to say that d20 is the very embodiment of Republican values - that is, it is thoroughly conservative, seeing as it has evolved and defined d&d as we know it today. Republicans believe that we owe a duty to the past, and yet this does not mean the present is set in stone. d20 allows for a righteous, moral environment for d&d, while eschewing anarchy and chaos. We'd all be poorer without it.

d20 alternatives remind me of communism and fascism, of expirements in new societies based on new rules with new people and new moralities, ones that end in failure. We already ahve the key, we already ahve eprfection, and a vast bank of knowledge on how to use it and exist in it. lets not throw it away.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

Let's not overstate (none / 2) (#114)
by The Devil on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:04:13 PM EST

> the d20 system is at the core of every d&d technology since the 70s

The d20 system is not currently the same as that system you speak of. And be sure, I am not attacking the d20 system; instead, I'm suggesting that it's lacking standards and with new standards applied to it, the whole d20 system would be better for it.

> Getting rid of it would be like getting rid of tolkien

I didn't suggest getting rid of it; but even then, you are overdramatizing here. Tolkien does not rely on d20, but d20 relies on Tolkien. This is clearly a false statement you said.

> d20 gives this to the masses, and alternatives impose hackneyed rulesets that people must consciously work around

I think you've missed the point. I'm not suggesting that d20 needs to be abolished; I am stating that d20 is not suited for CRPG currently.

> I might go so far as to say that d20 is the very embodiment of Republican values

I think you're way off the mark here. How can this be related?

> d20 alternatives remind me of communism and fascism

You are a worshiper of d20, obviously. That's fine; but would you like to see standards applied to it that would allow d20 to intermix with other systems, or be at least base-compatible?


[ Parent ]

eh, it's just bc (none / 0) (#184)
by eudas on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 03:41:42 PM EST

he's just... well, i guess it's trolling, but once you learn to read 'bc', it doesn't fool you anymore. take what he wrote about republicans/communism/fascism out of it and ignore some of the baiting, and you'll get the real comment.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Wow, dude, put *down* the crack-pipe... (none / 1) (#168)
by pla on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 03:57:39 AM EST

d20 alternatives remind me of communism and fascism, of expirements in new societies based on new rules with new people and new moralities, ones that end in failure. We already ahve the key, we already ahve eprfection, and a vast bank of knowledge on how to use it and exist in it. lets not throw it away.

Wow... Tell me, did you manage to write that with a straight face? Did you consider it serious when you wrote it, or did you mean to write something so laden with hyperbole as to inspire the reader to laughter?

If serious, you need to get out a bit more. Not a joke or one-liner - You sound way too high-strung about something that amounts to a mere game. Not a religion, not Big Brother coming down on you, just a game.

Take a deep breath. Relax



I might go so far as to say that d20 is the very embodiment of Republican values

Ah, I always wondered what I found so distasteful about it, but couldn't quite nail it down - You've summed it up quite nicely. Thanks. ;-)



Full disclosure - I consider WotC to have all but destroyed what we once thought of as the Role Playing Game genre, reducing it to little more than a deterministic system with a "fuzzy" initial state. My opinions on this topic may, therefore, contain a tad bit of bias as a result

[ Parent ]
bwaha. bwahaha! BWAHAHAHHAAAHAHAHHA (none / 1) (#216)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 04:56:32 AM EST

The point of d&d is not to be in a rule based system. it is to be in a system that, though based on rules, feels free and utterly flexible and realistic. d20 gives this to the masses, and alternatives impose hackneyed rulesets that people must consciously work around.

Oh. My. Skullfucking. GOD.

D&D free and utterly flexible! Oh, the pain of laughing!

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Monsters (none / 2) (#157)
by nurglich on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 09:42:49 PM EST

Monsters are only all identical if they are created identical. It's a whole lot easier to use a dozen stock orcs than roll each one up, complete with skills, but a red dragon deserves a little more love than that. You can give it different stats or abilities if you want, and it had better have a unique personality. Just because they have numbers defining a monster doesn't make it holy scripture or anything.

------------------------------------------
"There are no bad guys or innocent guys. There's just a bunch of guys!" --Ben Stiller, Zero Effect

[ Parent ]
I agree (none / 2) (#206)
by Zoshnell on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 03:50:28 PM EST

I agree with this statement. Orc baddie # 1 -5 we don't necessarily want to care about(unless the DM runs them up before hand or something) and random encounters we don't necessarily care about(unless they are already a prebuilt to the DM) but the Ork All High Chieftan is probably something we care about in context with the game. So in closing, if your Red Dragon fights and sounds like every other red dragon, blame your gm, not the monster in that case :-)
---------------------------------------------------- "I think there I am, I think." - Nordom The Modron
[ Parent ]
More opinions. (2.88 / 9) (#124)
by causticmtl on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:17:19 AM EST

Firstly, it is sheer folly to compare pen and paper role-playing games to computer RPeeGees. Any PnP game has someone called a GM that can improvise a storyline as players do things. A computer cannot do this and necessarily throws players into a "sandbox". The computer must be aware of the environment it is expected to manage. A human being can not only improvise the details of a game environment but the very environment itself.

Fallout is not a role-playing game. It is a game where you succeed by effeciently spending your action points to accomplish the task at hand. You do not worry about your character's motivations, flaws, and quirks. It is more a game of one-man (or woman) military tactics than an RPG.

Oh, and about Gary Gygax, the man is a dolt. He is the father of nothing other than Dangerous Journeys (*cough*). He was part of a gaming group and simply managed to market what his friends had put together. He is no creative genius.

TSR was the Microsoft of RPGs during the nineties threatening intenet/BBS users with lawsuits for expanding on their game system. They eventually lost too much money on crap like the Buck Rogers RPG (a nostalgic daughter of the original 50's TV star was responsible for this), Dragon Dice (they made enough so that every american citizen could own a pack ... that's a lot of dice), and printed books like the Encyclopedia Magica series where they lost money on every book sold. The US retail price was almost half the price of producing the book and there were four volumes in the series!

I suggest you read an article by John Tynes, a man partially responsible for the d20 system and WotC's success. Very interesting and it offers an insight into WotC that none of us could have without having worked there.

And remember, a mathematically sound game system does not necessarily lead to a fun evening of gaming. A few beers and some pizza playing D&D will probably get you to gaming-Nirvana quicker than trying to figure out which page your puncture criticals table is by playing RoleMaster or the three hours it took you just to generate the statistics for your character in the first place.

On Fallout (3.00 / 4) (#169)
by UnConeD on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 07:05:39 AM EST

Actually Fallout is one of the few computer games labeled as RPGs where there was more going on that just shooting. Yes, you do shoot a lot, and yes it is fun, but I think you're ignoring pieces of the game.

First of all, the game allows you to play on both sides of the moral scale, and between. That's why they included Childkiller, Gravedigger, etc traits, and allow you to murder out entire villages. Or you can be nice, and help out people.

Secondly, the choices you make during the quests and conversations do have effects. There are several mutally exclusive quests and results. Quite a lot get you a tangible during the game, but the biggest thing is that at the end of the game you get a summary about each game location and what happened to the people there. You can get quite a lot of different options there. Fallout's ending was in fact one of the best I've seen so far in hiding the big disappointment from "Game Over", as is often case with games.

Thirdly, Fallout was one of the few games where adult themes where present without just being fluff. You could take drugs and get addicted to them: the drugs did give you advantages, but addiction meant you had to keep taking them or suffer penalties. Your character could have sex with certain characters (no, you didn't see anything), and depending on whether you used a rubber, you'd get a message at the end about a child being born there.

Of course it doesn't compare to true pen'n'paper RPGs, but I think Fallout was in fact one of the CRPGs where you /were/ allowed to think about your motivation. I can think of many other so-called RPGs that didn't have what Fallout did and were indeed only about allocating skill points.


[ Parent ]

Agreed. [nt] (none / 1) (#177)
by causticmtl on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 11:23:10 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Hmmm... (3.00 / 5) (#136)
by AngelKnight on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:47:46 AM EST

Someone might have already brought this up. But:

If I'm reading this right, your article has not asserted that d20 was a bad system to pick. It seemed more to assert that computerizing an RPG with TOEE's story does not work out. Almost all of the references to d20 seem to get in the way of this point.

Maybe you're looking at two articles, or maybe you need to remove extraneous mention of d20? Because right now I'm not sure which point you wanted to make, or where to find it...

Someone definitely raised this point already, but: a computer has no sentience, therefore it cannot make judgment calls that a human DM running a pen-and-paper RPG session will have to make from time to time. When was the last time it was fun to have a game-master strictly going by the rules?

Reply (none / 3) (#141)
by The Devil on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:34:45 PM EST

> It seemed more to assert that computerizing an RPG with TOEE's story does not work out.

I think what I mean is that d20 is not standardized enough to be used with CRPG. Many changes to the system would make life easier for porting.

Perhaps d20 could create separate rules for CRPG?

[ Parent ]

dude (1.50 / 8) (#137)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:58:02 AM EST

You need to get out more...

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
A few insights: (none / 1) (#147)
by debacle on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:17:34 PM EST

On d20: I hate the system with a passion. While trying to make things better, WotC made them incredibly worse. I love the idea of ECLs, templates, standardized experience and being able to multi-class as you see fit. The new skill system is a great addition, and I am sort of neutral about feats (On one hand, they're pretty good. On the other, min-maxers are in heaven.). The fact that you gain another hit dice every level is incredibly stupid. I think that at a certain level (say 10hd) a player should merely get their cons bonus every level (That's how our games are run, some sort of weird 2nd/3rd edition hybrid.) The psionics system is kind of advanced for a casual D&D game, and the fact that WotC loves to bastardize every genre they take on (Those WotSQ books are completely fucking gay, have we had enough drow yet? Did we need a 3.5 less than two years after 3.0? I think not) sort of makes me not want to play anymore. By simplifying the system, they merely allowed themselves to make it that much more complex.

On NWN: The game completely broke the 3rd edition ruleset. It destroyed any class that wasn't incredibly popular (The druid, bards, etc) by leaving out the most important features, the spell selection sucks (Why couldn't they take the time to even seperate the wizard/cleric schools?) and as far as being able to role play, you can't. Every single item you have is a magical artifact by the end of the game, and you have the ability to make a keen regenerating sword of trueseeing, haste, magic resistance with a damage modifier of +10. WTF?

On TOEE: Basically this was the "green party" radical game in response to NWN. As an RPG it is almost perfect, as a computer game though it sucks because it's so drawn out. The things that would take 20 seconds talking to your DM take five minutes in TOEE.

On Baldur's Gate: The only real AD&D game that I can actually ROLE PLAY (RP-G) in. Great conversation trees, a good story, a friendly rules system (That was fleshed out in BGII to include a few kits, crafting, and even our old friend the monk) and plenty of twists, turns, and opportunities to enjoy yourself. You can even kill drizzt!

So, yeah. </geek>

It tastes sweet.

Smart insights (none / 1) (#148)
by The Devil on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:24:35 PM EST

I think your insights into these games are quite accurate and I thank you for posting them. TOEE is indeed an enjoyable game if you've got the experience to work around bugs. But it's got drawbacks... and I think you've identified one major one.

[ Parent ]
I'm a little confused.... (none / 2) (#155)
by DDS3 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 08:19:43 PM EST

On NWN: The game completely broke the 3rd edition ruleset. It destroyed any class that wasn't incredibly popular (The druid, bards, etc) by leaving out the most important features, the spell selection sucks (Why couldn't they take the time to even seperate the wizard/cleric schools?) and as far as being able to role play, you can't. Every single item you have is a magical artifact by the end of the game, and you have the ability to make a keen regenerating sword of trueseeing, haste, magic resistance with a damage modifier of +10. WTF?

You are talking about NWN the video game?  The one from Bioware?  While I won't comment on your "destroyed classes" comment, I will say, NWN allows for diverse roleplaying.  You do realize that the default module that comes with NWN is, in its self, NOT NWN!??!  It's a module.  Period.  You need to remember, a lot of people don't play NWN for roleplaying.  Rather, they playing to power level are crap.  Your comment about NWN appears to highlight that you really don't know much about it.  A module is a module.  The game engine is actually fairly powerful and awesome.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it worth a DM's time.  Absoluetely!

Some things you may not know about NWN.
NWN is a game engine.  It comes with module design tools.  You can create your own modules and even your own fatansy world.  Want to make magic very rare.  Do it.  It's easy.  Want to implement your HD rule?  Do it, it's easy.

You can also, easily DM with NWN.  It has a client specifically created to allow this.  It's powerful.  It's easy.  Do it.  If you can not DM with NWN, you are will never be able to DM with any game.  Period.  It's easy.  Try it.

Over all, it appears that you really don't know or understand much about NWN.  Which, basically means we should all ignore your NWN comments.  Do understand and realize that the module that comes with NWN is not NWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  NWN is a GAME ENGINE!  So really, what you have about NWN is the crappy module, not NWN.  You may want to learn more about it before you comment again.

If you love BG and hate NWN, well, I think that again highlights how little you understand NWN.  Simply put, if you love BG, it's pretty dang hard to not love NWN about 50 times more as it's 50 times better.  And yes, UNLIKE BG, YOU CAN ACTUALLY RP IN NWN!!!!!!!!!!

[ Parent ]

Are you a troll, or stupid? (none / 2) (#156)
by debacle on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 09:11:01 PM EST

The engine is not fleshed out enough in nearly any way to make it a good "engine." The infinity engine as edited by teambg has taken leaps and bounds. The Aurora engine has relatively few spells, poor interface, the list goes on. I have played through several modules for NWN, never had a DM (Adding a human to the equation makes it no longer a crpg, doesn't it?). I appreciated the attempt, but I think Bioware was more into having the computer nerds playing an rpg and the d&d nerds playing d&d.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
Here Here (none / 2) (#159)
by The Devil on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:26:28 PM EST

> I appreciated the attempt, but I think Bioware was more into having the computer nerds playing an rpg and the d&d nerds playing d&d. I have to agree. And I'm a d&d nerd. ;-)

[ Parent ]
I do not think it means what you think it means (none / 3) (#170)
by rho on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 08:23:18 AM EST

You've got a funny definition of "role playing". Myself, I don't consider running through a conversation tree "role playing". While Baldur's Gate is probably the best single-player RPG game, ever--we do agree on that point--NWN is not a single-player game. The Official Campaigns are pretty limp, really.

For instance, you can't have a real party in SP NWN. If you're a wizard, you can have a henchman, a familiar, and a summoned animal, which is a "party" only for sufficiently small values of "party". In addition, the way encounters are balanced, it favors the PC in a lot of ways, because it's designed to be playable by a single PC and a henchman. So you have ridiculous situations like a monk beating an ancient golden dragon with his bare hands.

The SP aspect of NWN is merely a prelude. It's goal is to entice the player to seek out more games with other players. To put it in simpler terms, NWN was designed to allow you to look up your old RP-ing buddies so you can get together again and go fight the evil wizard and his undead orcs, even though you're seperated by hundreds of miles and two time zones.

While I agree that the spell system is a bit meager, it's not as bad as all that. Not to mention that Bioware is continually updating and enhancing the product. With both expansion packs, you got more spells, more monsters, more classes... just more. Also of note is the recently released Community Expansion Pack--you know, stuff that the living, breathing community built with the tools available to add to the game.

If you're satisfied with the limitations of a SP Baldur's Gate game, then NWN is likely not for you. But to call it crap only highlights your ignorance. Maybe what you really need is an NWN session with the Fleet Street boys to make your mind right.
"The thought of two thousand people munching celery at the same time [horrifies] me." --G.B. Shaw
[ Parent ]

clearly... (none / 2) (#172)
by DDS3 on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 09:02:17 AM EST

just based on your subject line, it doesn't take much to figure out who the troll is.

Get a life.


[ Parent ]

Additional comments... (none / 2) (#173)
by DDS3 on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 09:10:17 AM EST

I have played through several modules for NWN, never had a DM (Adding a human to the equation makes it no longer a crpg, doesn't it?).

Ah, yes, actually it does.  The primise is a CRPG, which NWN is, with or without a DM.  IMO, there is no such thing as an RPG without a DM.  Being on a computer just makes it another tool.  And yes, if that tool is a computer, then it's still just a tool.  The game rules are still implemented on the computer, so, clearly it's a crpg.  No doubt.  The fact that it's a crpg and allows for an actual dm, with actual RP'ing, makes it even better.

Since my original post was rather friendly ad factual, I don't think it's hard to point the finger, with zero doubt, that you're either an idiot, a troll, or both.

Nuff said.


[ Parent ]

To summarize... (none / 1) (#151)
by Yori on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:58:13 PM EST

Complicated games are hard to make right T_T;

The only thing worse than crap like this posting (1.66 / 6) (#162)
by Little Surfer Girl on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 12:06:01 AM EST

Is finding it has made the front page of slashdot. Ugh. I shall need a shower, now.
-- Don't criticize Ronald Regan, or your K5 account will get zapped, too.
re: Slashdot (none / 1) (#176)
by STFUYHBT on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 11:00:53 AM EST

It appears that a fellow named Scott Lockwood is not a big fan of Kuro5hin! Perhaps he has some sort of history with this site?

-
"Of all the myriad forms of life here, the 'troll-diagnostic' is surely the lowest, yes?" -medham
[ Parent ]
Yeah, I read that. (1.75 / 4) (#179)
by Little Surfer Girl on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 12:40:29 PM EST

He's right.
-- Don't criticize Ronald Regan, or your K5 account will get zapped, too.
[ Parent ]
Not to nitpick... (none / 2) (#163)
by archiesteel on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 12:10:32 AM EST

...but the author makes a reference to Atari as a coin-op company. This was true back in the days, but now Atari is just the new name of Infogrames, who bought it from the previous owner (Time-Warner?)

Some kind of brand necromancy, I guess...


-- This sig has blue six words.
It's not the system (3.00 / 4) (#165)
by Wildgoose on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 03:19:49 AM EST

...it's the Game Master. And without AI a computer will never be able to successfully replicate that.

The best adventure I was ever part of was by a GM who was using a bastardised version of the old Tunnels & Trolls rules. Yup, that primitive. But it worked. I later learned that he'd won awards for his GM-ing, which didn't come as a surprise.

Take a look at Traveller. There are 6 different rule systems available for Traveller (at my last count). "Classic" Traveller, MegaTraveller, Traveller New Era, GURPS Traveller, d20 Traveller and "Marc Miller's" (the original designer) Traveller.

I've switched to GURPS because it's simple without being simplistic, flexible (an enormous no. of alternate environments are available), and it doesn't get in the way of what really matters - the Game Master.

my $0.02 about this article/subject (2.80 / 5) (#183)
by eudas on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 03:13:26 PM EST

Problems: Conflict of Interest
I think that you are right in saying that WotC has an interest in promoting continual expansions; finishing a beautiful, systemic product would result in plummeting sales as people get the books and then use them. Why would you keep buying things that work perfectly well?

That being said, you come across as very disgruntled with d20. That's fine, you have an opinion, but you also come across as though you are trying to write an objective piece (even though it is Op-Ed.) Personally I consider 3rd ed and 3.5 to be much better than 2nd ed, but we're both entitled to our opinions.

Problems: Distributed Database vs. Brain
I disagree slightly with the premise that d20 is difficult to meld to CRPG format; parts of it are difficult, others simply don't get implemented because the developers don't think the diminishing returns are worth it. Some parts are impossible to put into CRPG format, but by and large the d20 system made it at least as easy, if not easier, to put into CRPG format. The development of d20 is much more systemic than it ever was in 2nd ed; I can practically see the code when I read it.

Some old "bugs" persist; exceptions to rules, etc, but the development in this iteration is much better than in the past.

Problems: Melding to Stone
In this case, the problem is not in the Melding to Stone spell, the problem is in the AI development. You're barking up the wrong tree here.

The Adventure
You complain about having only 9 sub-quests; there are 9 alignments and 11 classes (not counting PRC's and non-core base classes). Having a quest for every class/alignment combination is 99 quests. You refer to the challenges of developing according to a timetable, and then complain that you were robbed of 90 quests? Okay...

How to make CRPG unique
You make some good points here, in that a decent "DM" AI could make for much more varied and interesting game and incease the replay value drastically.

More Bugs
While d20 may be at times complex, I am skeptical that portions related to movement could be primarily responsible for game engine sluggishness, especially on today's computers.

Scroll Bugs and a Solution
All I can say here is, <sarcasm>I and the entire rest of the gaming community has been waiting a long time for you to come along and solve all of our problems.</sarcasm> People have been attempting to solve these issues for some time; d20 is merely one version of an attempt. AD&D 2nd edition, GURPS, Torg, Unknown Armies, and the rest of the infinitude of RPG world are other various attempts, with widely varying degrees of success (or failure, depending on how you look at it.)

Solution: Standards Compliance
Again, here, as in the section above it, you are being very ambiguous, to the point of almost saying nothing at all.

Planning problems and a clash of ideals
It sounds as though you want a Diablo2-style of continuance here; something akin to Normal/Nightmare/Hell mode play with dueling. To which I can only reply: Hey, everything ends at some point. If you want PvP, fire up a FPS.

Baked Cakes vs. Realtime Magic
sigh
Ok, so once again, you are repeating yourself and blaming everything on d20. Like this kind of thing has never happened before -- all the AD&D 2nd edition games all popped out right on time with all kinds of magic content perfected. Right.  While you are right in that the choice of base system can affect development time, I think that you are unfairly laying the bulk of the blame at the system's feet rather than in the company's failure to give enough time/resources to developing a game engine capable of running the system.

Back to Basics
Well, ya gotta start somewhere; a system has to make choices in its development. Your last sentence really sounds like a lot of the other paragraphs -- full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Summary
You bitch a lot about some of the choices Troika et al made with TOEE, and lay 90% of the blame at d20's feet. I personally don't think it would've made a damn bit of difference if they chose d20 or Torg or GURPS or Big Eyes/Small Mouth -- if you don't give enough time/resources to do a job right, you don't do it right.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat

m:tg as an example (none / 1) (#191)
by eudas on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 06:25:53 PM EST

Hrm, one more thing that I forgot to say w/rt your "Problems: Conflict of Interest" section is that you can really use M:tG as a comparison to what WotC does with alot of their other product lines (up to and probably including D&D); their goal is to continually make old stuff obsolete, so you keep spending money on new stuff.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Microsoft (none / 1) (#214)
by The Devil on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 11:23:43 PM EST

> their goal is to continually make old stuff obsolete, so you keep spending money on new stuff.

This really reminded me of Microsoft's strategy, through and through; and it really bothers me.

[ Parent ]

product life cycle (none / 0) (#217)
by eudas on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 10:41:41 AM EST

it's not a new strategy, though. planned obsolescence has been with us for some time, in areas such as commodity consumer electronics -- tv's and vcr's die after a certain amount of time -- it's just that with products such as the ones that Microsoft and WotC puts out, you can actually "see" it in action because their products have a much shorter life-cycle. People do understand that nothing lasts forever, and that sometimes you need to replace/upgrade, but nobody likes being taken for a ride.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Reply to this (none / 1) (#212)
by The Devil on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 11:17:34 PM EST

> In this case, the problem is not in the Melding to Stone spell, the problem is in the AI development. You're barking up the wrong tree here. The way the spell is written is not the way it's been coded; you are correct. But that is because of the difficulty to interpret the difficult rules of the spell. They are very arbitrary, it would seem. > Having a quest for every class/alignment combination is 99 quests. You refer to the challenges of developing according to a timetable, and then complain that you were robbed of 90 quests? Okay... Okay what? It's important, I think, to point out that the PnP DM would have many more options available than simply 99 starting points. That's just frivilous to point out. The challenges according to development are present in any project, and my point there was to suggest that more money should be in place for a project like TOEE, to allow a brass-ring approach to game design. Atari dropped the ball on this one, IMHO. > I am skeptical that portions related to movement could be primarily responsible for game engine sluggishness Well, you've never compiled a Quake level, have you? Pathing takes up quite a bit of time and energy and to do it in realtime is a mistake. The game should do so at each turn, but to save time between turns for processing, the game is doing a lot of calculations when you move your cursor. > I and the entire rest of the gaming community has been waiting a long time for you to come along and solve all of our problems. Part of the problem in the Fallout community, for example, is truly summarized in your attempt at humour. Really emphasizing any attempt at wrapping some solutions together in a 2500 word article, and discouraging this attempt, is what plagues many gaming communities today. It really does generate apathy among developers, so you may wish to reevaluate your cause for doing so, because it works against the effort. If I want to spend my time writing an article, and I decide to use a particular approach to problem solving, then I have a right to do so, and anyone who disagrees with the approach has a right to debate it; but to discourage the process entirely is just criminal... it's a crime against RPG.

[ Parent ]
Drat... here is my reply without formatting probs (none / 1) (#213)
by The Devil on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 11:18:30 PM EST

> In this case, the problem is not in the Melding to Stone spell, the problem is in the AI development. You're barking up the wrong tree here.

The way the spell is written is not the way it's been coded; you are correct. But that is because of the difficulty to interpret the difficult rules of the spell. They are very arbitrary, it would seem.

> Having a quest for every class/alignment combination is 99 quests. You refer to the challenges of developing according to a timetable, and then complain that you were robbed of 90 quests? Okay...

Okay what? It's important, I think, to point out that the PnP DM would have many more options available than simply 99 starting points. That's just frivilous to point out. The challenges according to development are present in any project, and my point there was to suggest that more money should be in place for a project like TOEE, to allow a brass-ring approach to game design. Atari dropped the ball on this one, IMHO.

> I am skeptical that portions related to movement could be primarily responsible for game engine sluggishness

Well, you've never compiled a Quake level, have you? Pathing takes up quite a bit of time and energy and to do it in realtime is a mistake. The game should do so at each turn, but to save time between turns for processing, the game is doing a lot of calculations when you move your cursor.

> I and the entire rest of the gaming community has been waiting a long time for you to come along and solve all of our problems.

Part of the problem in the Fallout community, for example, is truly summarized in your attempt at humour. Really emphasizing any attempt at wrapping some solutions together in a 2500 word article, and discouraging this attempt, is what plagues many gaming communities today. It really does generate apathy among developers, so you may wish to reevaluate your cause for doing so, because it works against the effort. If I want to spend my time writing an article, and I decide to use a particular approach to problem solving, then I have a right to do so, and anyone who disagrees with the approach has a right to debate it; but to discourage the process entirely is just criminal... it's a crime against RPG.

[ Parent ]

thanks for responding (none / 1) (#218)
by eudas on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 01:40:21 PM EST

"The way the spell is written is not the way it's been coded; you are correct. But that is because of the difficulty to interpret the difficult rules of the spell. They are very arbitrary, it would seem."

I would posit that it has nothing to do with the way the spell is written; it has everything to do with the monster AI programmer deciding that they would never switch targets once they had acquired a target. What would a PC do? "I can't hurt this thing, so i'm going to go find a different target until either a) i can hurt this target again or b) all other targets are dead." Why didn't they (whoever they are) fix that obviously dumb design?

"Okay what? It's important, I think, to point out that the PnP DM would have many more options available than simply 99 starting points. That's just frivilous to point out. The challenges according to development are present in any project, and my point there was to suggest that more money should be in place for a project like TOEE, to allow a brass-ring approach to game design. Atari dropped the ball on this one, IMHO."

That was "okay" as in "okay, whatever, dude."
Yes, a PnP DM has many more options/starting points; however, a PnP DM also knows what races/classes his players will be using before the game begins, and only needs plan out a limited selection based on that data; he doesn't need to plan out all 99 options for every module he writes.

"Well, you've never compiled a Quake level, have you? Pathing takes up quite a bit of time and energy and to do it in realtime is a mistake. The game should do so at each turn, but to save time between turns for processing, the game is doing a lot of calculations when you move your cursor."

No, I've never compiled a Quake level. I did say that I was skeptical, as opposed to definitively knowledgable. I doubt that that distinction came across well, though; you probably regard it as splitting hairs. I'll take your word for it on the calculations/cpu load.

"Part of the problem in the Fallout community, for example, is truly summarized in your attempt at humour. Really emphasizing any attempt at wrapping some solutions together in a 2500 word article, and discouraging this attempt, is what plagues many gaming communities today. It really does generate apathy among developers, so you may wish to reevaluate your cause for doing so, because it works against the effort. If I want to spend my time writing an article, and I decide to use a particular approach to problem solving, then I have a right to do so, and anyone who disagrees with the approach has a right to debate it; but to discourage the process entirely is just criminal... it's a crime against RPG."

Part of it was an attempt at sarcasm, yes, but part of it is a very real criticism: everybody says that they've got the real best idea and they're going to show us. Okay, well, show us then.

It seems to me as though a lot of design of RPG's is done very much like open source; you get something that "scratches an itch" that somebody has, and someone else likes it but hates portion X of it so they rip that out and recode it, and a third person thinks that X was ok but Y was broken so it "forks the code", ... it winds up with alot of game systems, that all have shitty parts to them. d20 is probably the closest I've seen in some time that uses a systemic approach. of course, it has its fair share of flaws as well, as it inherits "sacred cows" from previous iterations (2nd ed) and of course, nobody's perfect -- the designers of 3rd ed made some of their own mistakes as well. but i do believe that it is better than many which came before it.

And your going on about "rights"... useless noise. You have a right to write something that is so vague as to be useless, I have a right to criticize it... and vice versa. I wasn't complaining about your writing an article, I was complaining about your writing an article which complains about several specific somethings and then, instead of a specific recommendation or solution, includes some text that appears to be the vaguest description of how one might possibly address the issue:

"In a positively comprehensive system of PPRPG that is standards-based, I would intend to create a system where all characters, npcs, spells, skills, feats and items are created equal. This system is coming, and it's going to be very simple, so that it may be scalable to suit any CRPG or PPRPG system, and to adapt to any system."

If you can expand on what any of that is supposed to actually mean, rather than simply being non-speak, please do.

If you're trying to say that one day we will work out a fair, balanced, comprehensive yet simple classless system, then sure... someday. And when this ideal gaming system arrives, I'll applaud it too.

["I... have a dream." -- MLK]

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Melding to Stone (none / 2) (#188)
by irrevenant on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 06:02:41 PM EST

Actually, taking advantage of loopholes in the rules is very much in the spirit of pen and paper roleplaying.  Remember when someone worked out that the "Wall of Stone" spell worked really well as an offensive weapon if you just cast it sideways ABOVE your opponents?

CRPGs did not invent rules lawyers. :)

(Incidentally, the solution is much the same in both cases - go "Oops, I didn't foresee that option" and tighten up on it for next time).

Randomness (none / 1) (#222)
by The Devil on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 02:34:00 PM EST

How we challenged the Wall of Stone spell was by making the thing kinda random when mages would cast it. By lessening the control they had over the spell, if they said to drop it over an opponent, their party became at risk of taking damage from the spell. Let's just say that after the party had to spend twenty minutes digging out a dwarven comrade, the spell Wall of Stone was used less.

[ Parent ]
slavish d&d universe (chaos & law) (none / 1) (#195)
by bloodnose on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 08:26:31 PM EST

is it just me or does it bug that so many gameplay system don't reinvent the wheel? particularly with something as arbitrary as the alignments. not that chaos, law, good, evil wasn't a good idea for 1 gaming system, but not for all of them.

and for the D&D is Tolkien is gaming noise upstream: you've just been regulated (but thanks for your book report from the movies you've seen, plz tell me more about star wars)

what's your alignment? oh it's player-character. thus spake ruwanda.


CRPG rules flaws (none / 2) (#198)
by IHCOYC on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 10:39:54 AM EST

Perhaps the biggest rules flaw I can recall seeing in a CRPG was the use of "Animate Dead" in Baldur's Gate I.

There was:

  • no limit to the number of skeletons and zombies you could summon;
  • no alignment or reputation pop from casting the spell in public;
  • no reaction from townspeople when you went walking through the streets with your army of skeletons.
So my Good clerics did little else but prepare multiple instances of this most valuable spell in the game. I know that if I were DMing a game, a good cleric who summoned an army of the walking dead would probably get some up close and personal attention from the gods. There were few battles that could not be won by having a mage fire off a Stinking Cloud at the foes and then sending in the skeletons.

More intriguing, I think, was the fact that people walking the city streets in the company of fifteen or twenty skeletons. No one noticed. Conversations with NPCs continued as if the staring eye sockets were not there. Trying to imagine a town where this sort of thing is routine is itself an intriguing effort of imagination.
--
Nisi mecum concubueris, phobistę vicerint.
   --- Catullus

wow. (none / 1) (#225)
by joshsisk on Mon Apr 26, 2004 at 04:11:00 PM EST

The problems experienced by TOEE users might be best described as systemic, rules based problems that were not developed by Troika, but by RPG rules publisher Wizards of the Coast (WotC), a bastardized version of what TSR used to be in its hey-day, prior to the removal of a very important figure from the company: The Father of RPG, Gary Gygax, first created Dungeons & Dragons with a bunch of people who hung out with him regularly, and it was through this intensive and subjective process that the rules of all future video games were spawned.

That sentence boggles the mind.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn

Where Dungeons & Dragons Fails Video Games | 225 comments (157 topical, 68 editorial, 4 hidden)
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