Wednesday 31 July 2019

No One Ever Escapes, Do They?

A long time ago, in response to this post, I said

These are good examples of exactly what I said in the other thread. Thanks!
For example, in a "fiction-first" system, the sorcerer's attempt to intimidate would tend to work against the wizard's and ranger's attempt to soothe. In a "rules-first" system, one ignores the dichotomy.
EDIT: Also, in a "fiction-first" system, the players could attempt to avoid a combat because that offered their best chance of success. If you design the challenge of avoiding said combat "To keep the XP and pacing about the same as I'd planned", then you undo the value of that choice. 
It has been pointed out to me that, about a year ago, EnWorld user pemerton has been taking that out of context, to suggest, as victim did at the time, that a "single, correct choice" damages player agency. This is victim's post, which pemerton excerpts from:

I strongly disagree. Wide variance in difficulty or rewards based on player strategy doesn't preserve the value and meaning of player choice, it destroys that value - essentially, you create a single correct choice.
In a sort of in combat sense, think of 3e giants. They have pretty good stuff in general, especially in melee combat (and doubly so if specced to use combat maneuvers like Disarm or Sunder), and then really awful Will saves. Even if your wizard doesn't emphasize enchantments - let's say we're talking about an evoker - using Will based spells (Confusion, Slow, etc) is still the way to go even if your normal Spell Focuses don't apply. What the player/character would prefer to do; what they've chosen to be good at doesn't really matter, because taking advantage of giant's weakness provides such an overwhelming advantage.
Similarly, if a diplomatic approach is just as hard as a fight, whether or not the PCs have good CHA, skill trainings, etc means something. The fact that the characters chose a non violent means of resolving the problem even if it wasn't any easier tells us something about their values. If talking is easy, then PCs can get through without strong social skills, and all that their choice tells us about the characters is that they're expedient. 
When one choice is obviously superior, going for it is a pretty trivial decision.
Now, one might note that there is a world of difference between "the players could attempt to avoid a combat because that offered their best chance of success" and one choice being "obviously superior" or the DM sets up a "single correct choice". What the "best chance of success" is need not even be static - in most role-playing games, players can use up resources that change the strategies they use to meet challenges. When you are low on hit points, a fight that you could easily have won earlier may no longer be worthwhile.

The situation is set up by the DM; the strategy is determined by the players. It is not the DM who determines how the players should meet a challenge, it is the players.

It may be true that "The fact that the characters chose a non violent means of resolving the problem even if it wasn't any easier tells us something about their values", but it also might mean that they built their hammer to hit the nail in a particular way.

Victim says, "What the player/character would prefer to do; what they've chosen to be good at doesn't really matter, because taking advantage of giant's weakness provides such an overwhelming advantage." But this is really an argument that what the player has decided should determine what works best. If I am an evoker, evocation should be as successful against giants as enchantments.


When the players have a chosen manner of dealing with problems, be it hitting them with an axe or with charm person, you learn more about them when their chosen solution isn't optimal than when it is. This is because the players must actually engage with the game, and seek out new solutions. And if their solutions are clever enough to make an encounter easier, the GM should not inflate the encounter to meet their predetermined difficulty level. And if their solutions make the problem worse, the GM should not shrink the difficulty to compensate.

If the outcome is the same no matter what choices are made, the choices do not matter to the outcome. This should be blindingly obvious.

Moreover, the context of the post is the idea of a skill challenge where one person attempts to intimidate a bear, while two people attempt to soothe it, and there is no consequence for choosing this paradoxical approach because game mechanics trump the fiction of the game.

I refer you now to this post, where it is clear that pemerton not only understood the context, but agreed to at least some degree with the edit. He also ignores this post, which answers his objections.

I hope that the point I was trying to make was clear: If the GM determines that the encounter will be of X difficulty no matter how the players decide to approach it, then the GM has stripped the players of their agency in the encounter. 

Anyway, that sort of misrepresentation was not unusual on EnWorld when I was active there, and it should not surprise me that it is still ongoing. I thought I was completely out, but no one ever really escapes, do they?

If you are interested, see here, here, here, and here.

And I suppose none of that really matters, but I disliked it when I was on EnWorld, and I still dislike it today. And it is still the same people pulling the same BS.

Cheers to having found a better community!

Related Posts: Difficulty in RPG Scenarios and Difficulty: Not Just For Players.

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Mathoms Away!

Back in 2013, I started a tradition of giving away a "mathom" every year on my birthday. That tradition ended last year.

This year, I have made all prior mathoms available as "Pay What You Want" products on DriveThruRPG. I have also made my Gary Con 2017 Special available. I hope that I am stepping on no toes by doing this, and they are NOT approved for use with DCC.

You can find them here:

Gary Con 2017

Get them all for free, or buy me a cup of coffee if you wish!

Monday 22 July 2019

Prince Charming, Reanimator

This is a friendly reminder about the upcoming one shot adventure Prince Charming, Reanimator, at Storm Crow Manor!

This is running from 7 pm to 11 pm on the 1st of August, and includes the same food as the standard DM & Dine experience.

Classic fairy tales are re-imagined with an (un)healthy dose of H.P. Lovecraft! When Prince Hubert Charming seeks to claim the Sleeping Beauty as his latest bride, he conscripts a group of peasants to recover her for him. You are that group of peasants!

Seats are still available.

Register Here or Here!

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Dungeon Crawl Classics - Patron Finder

Last updated 15 May 2021

It is almost 100% certain that I am missing several patrons already. Links go to listings in the DCC Trove of Treasures, and will be updated accordingly as that blog is updated.

As it stands, though, this page will help you locate patron information for your DCC, MCC, and related games.

Aakaanksha, The Granter of Pleasures
Acceptance, the Root Organ-Fractal
ACHROMA (Ad-Hoc Computer Hierarchy with Recursive Optical Memory AI)
ADEONA (Accelerated Destination Engineering & Orbital Nilspace AI)
Agaderathil, the Black Between the Stars
A’goth-Amon, Abyssal Prince
Alboran, the Red King
The Anti-Sam, Patron of the American Nightmare
Archdloos,The King of Swords
The Arm of Vendel Re’Yune
Ar-Mammon, Lord of Hidden Treasures
Ars-Eleeta, Goddess of Technology
Atraz-Azul, Mother of Spiders
Avridar, King of Air, the South Wind, the Sirocco, the King of Storms
Azi Dahaka
Baal Zymymar
The Baba Jedza
Balancyrs, the Changeling Prince
Belshar of the Five Eyes
The Benefactors
The Benighted Pleomorphic Prion from Beyond
“Billy Jack”, An Artificial Intelligence Patron for DCC
Biloop, King of Sealife
B’kakaaw, Queen of Birds
The Black Goat
Blorgamorg, the Chthonic Snail
The Bone Lady
Brinae, Queen of Water, Lady of the Laughing Waters, the River Maiden, the Mistress of Clouds
Buddy O’Burger
Camazotz the Death Bat
Castle Oldskull
Michuval, Angel of War
Midwinter Maker
Mike Fink
Modeca, the Second of Three (Ol’ Blackcloak)
Mog the Spider God
Moolineha, Queen of the Hooved
Mordines, the Shadow of Death
Mother of Hearts
The Mother of Monsters
The Mother of Shards
Reku, the Light Giver
The Resplendent Aweswine
The Rope, God of Assassins
Saint Nicholas
Senet, the Eye that Sees
Serbok, the Slithering Shadow
Set-Utekh the Destroyer
Shaggath-Ka, the Worm Sultan
Shammat, Lady of Cats
Sheelba of the Eyeless Face
Sheytherax, Emperor of Reptiles
The Silicone Minds
Sintar, the Knower
Sister Ultiva, Goddess of Vengeance
Sky-Lasher the Everlasting, Trident of the Sun
Somnos, the Dreaming God
Sperato, God of Hope
The Spider Goddess
Splaasha, Prince of Elemental Water
Squallas, Mistress of the Night Soil Rivers
Sseleen'Jeril, the Emerald Snake, the Coiled One, the Endless Beast
Stagger Lee (a.k.a. Stackalee, Stack-o-Lee, or Stagolee), Patron of Badasses
The Star Child
Stardust the Super Wizard
Supreme Brainskull Commander
The Synod of the Astroliches
Takisaka, the Mother of Serpents
Tamarah Pandoramicum

Sunday 7 July 2019

Prince Charming, Reanimator, at Storm Crow Manor

If you are in the Toronto area on the 1st of August, my Storm Crow Manor event, Prince Charming, Reanimator, has been moved to that date.

Prince Hubert Charming, son of the Baron of Westlake, and heir to Westlake Manor, is well known as a cold man, whose watery blue eyes seem to betray no emotion at all. Yet he is a great lover of beauty, as all his wives have proven. The first he found working in the cinders of a woodsman’s cottage. Some say that the girl’s jealous stepsisters threw her down a well to prevent her from becoming the young prince’s bride, but even death did not bar Prince Charming, and she enchanted everyone at the wedding. Her stepsisters were placed in spiked barrels filled with hot coals and dragged through the town until they themselves died.

Whatever process Prince Charming used to revive his bride, it did not last forever. All too soon, the Princess Ella took ill and died.

Charming then found another bride, and there was no doubt in this case that she was dead. She was entombed in a glass coffin guarded by half a dozen or so dwarves. Yet, when Prince Charming injected his magic elixir and kissed her upon the lips, her eyelids fluttered open and she breathed again! The story was told that the new Princess had been in but a deep coma, a sham of death, until a poisoned apple was dislodged by the Prince’s kiss. But folk began to whisper in dread, and none were surprised when it was announced that Princess Snow, like Princess Ella, succumbed to a fatal illness after only a few years of marital bliss.

In all kingdoms there are tales, and in the Barony of Westlake, it is said that the Grimmswood hides the ruins of a long-lost realm. The daughter of its final king, cursed by a malevolent faerie, pricked her finger on a spindle upon her sixteenth birthday, in the blossom of her youth, and died. With her death, the kingdom went to ruin. Few now dare to go far into the Grimmswood, although the riches of the lost kingdom are said to lie unclaimed within. Fear of dark fey magic and even greater evils keep men out.

Or they did so until now. For Prince Hubert Charming of Westlake has determined that the long-dead Princess Beauty is only cursed to sleep away the aeons, and he will have her for his bride. His men rounded up a stable of “volunteers” at the beginning of one early autumn morning, and here you are, with what makeshift arms and equipment you had upon you when you were “volunteered”.

Your mission, the Prince’s Bailiff explains, is to enter the ruined castle, find the place where the “Sleeping” Beauty lies, and bring her forth for Prince Charming to restore with a kiss. Those who choose not to go upon this quest must take their chances with the Prince’s Guard, twenty men strong, and be declared outlaw. Those who choose to hazard their lives within the ruined castle may keep what they find, apart from the sleeping princess, but dare not leave without her.

An adventure combining well-known (and lesser-known) fairy tales with the works of H. P. Lovecraft, for a bit of rollicking fun and danger!

From the reviews:

"I'm a huge fan of DCC and Grimm fairytales. Needless to say this was an amazingly perfect combination." - A Customer

"Every time I run this the players all enjoy it immensely. The familiarity of ther fairy tale is something most people can cling to, but there are some many little twists included that make it enjoyable to play and to run." - Keith M.

And more reviews here!

Monday 1 July 2019

Beneath the Temple of Doubt!

Tabletop Scotland

Raven Crowking is going to Scotland (Again!) 

And this time I am bringing an adventure!

Beneath the Temple of Doubt

Description:  A fortune of hoarded gold is said to be hidden beneath the ruins of the Temple of Doubt, but none has claimed it yet. To be certain, none has even come back. But few are as powerful as you, and surely the treasures of the Temple are destined to be yours.

Daniel is writing this scenario for the convention.  All players who participate will be added as Playtesters prior to it being published by Purple Duck Games.

Players: 6 Players Max.  4 Spaces Online. 2 Spaces at the convention.

Level 3 DCC. All necessary materials & swag provided!
Saturday 24 August

14:30 - 18:00