Monday, May 25, 2015

Quick Thoughts About Primes

This will be brief. It is just my thoughts on the main knocks I see about Primes and the SIEGE engine.


There are quite a few comments about Primes being a base target of 12, and non-Primes being base 18. It seems that many folks are more comfortable setting the base difficulty flat and then modifying it if a Prime comes into play. Some players seem to dislike saying, "The lock is heavily rusted and difficult to open. Its difficulty is +4, so if your DEX is Prime, you need a 16." They are more comfortable with saying, "The lock is heavily rusted and difficult to open. Target number is 15 + 4, for 19. Add +5 to your roll if DEX is Prime."

I may not be saying that exactly right, but that's the spirit of the thing. I can see both sides, but I don't really think either way is a ball-breaker. I can see the second way being a bit more intuitive, but it's a near thing and I think the first way (which is RAW) has certain situational advantages.

SIEGE Engine

I was basically ambivalent about the first point. I mentioned it because it is something I've seen a good bit and I wouldn't want it to seem like a big deal. This second point, though, it riles me up.

Some forum posts and reviewers like to whine about the following:

"Your cleric rolled a 19 Dexterity check to sneak by a guard, but the rogue's stealth roll of 15 is somehow better because… well, he's a rogue."

This is patently absurd, and is carefully worded to support the "point" that Primes don't work. What this example fails to effectively communicate is that the author is referring to the roll itself. Of course, a 19 is a better roll than a 15. Things don't stop with the raw roll of the die, though. The thief had a base difficulty of 12, since DEX is Prime for rogues, plus he adds his level to the roll. So, he beat his target by 3, not counting level bonus. The cleric, on the other hand, had a base difficulty of 18 (non-prime, presumably), with no level bonus. So, yes, the thief achieved a better Sneak check result than the cleric. Which should be expected.

I don't mind well-reasoned, constructive criticism. I don't like it when someone picks something apart, then presents the pieces in a certain light, just to support their dislike of something. If you don't like it, then don't like it. Move along. But, don't ruin for the next guy with such carefully crafted "criticism".

Breaking My Own Convention

There is a game, a game I've never talked about. I absolutely love this game. The reason I've never talked about it is that it violates one of my principle desires in a rules system: it isn't freely available. Even D&D is free now, so this is a bit of a sticking point. It is OGL, though, so maybe that's worth something. Anyway, the game is . . .

I have admired this game from afar for some time. Quite some time. I really dig the art, and just the "feel" of the game. Something about it just feels so much like AD&D to me. No matter how many times I flirted with it over the years, I never really reached critical mass with it. Ascending armor class and base attack bonuses give me 3.x flashbacks right out of the gate. So, I would flip through it wistfully, but never sank my teeth into it.

Well, it isn't 3.x. It is built on the OGL, but apparently not the SRD. It has no interest in touting compatibility with 3.x. In fact, in some ways, it sits somewhere between OD&D and AD&D, power level wise, as near as I can tell. I'm currently perusing a couple of modules (praise to the powers that be, they refer to them as "modules"!) and so far the most significant stat I've seen in an NPC is a 16. One time. The baseline for character generation is 3d6 arrange to suit.

Something I have always liked about the system are the character classes. There are a slew of them, which admittedly is a love/hate thing for me, but you can't have an AD&D experience without them. I feel the fighter is underpowered (of course), but easily fixed. Plus, and a BIG plus, the ranger is non-casting. He's just a badass in the woods. As he should be.

There are no feats or skills. Skills are covered by the SIEGE engine mechanic. I am quite certain that if you read passed the logo above, you already have an interest in C&C and thus are familiar with the SIEGE engine. Having not played the game, I can't comment on either the rapture of such a flexible and elegant system, nor on the supposed burden it promises to some readers. Apparently one loves it or one hates it. I remain undecided in fact, but love it in theory.

One thing I have seen talked about is the math. It seems the game is based on the underlying math of 3.x and there is a concern that it breaks down at higher levels. I am interested in this, in an academic sense. It is doubtful I will ever have a group to explore the system with, let alone get to high enough level that the system begins to unravel. I am curious, though.

So, there it is. My secret revealed. I love a game that isn't free. I almost forgot to mention another selling point for me. This is a little silly to some perhaps, but meaningful to me. Troll Lord Games is based in Little Rock, AR. I am a Southern boy, born and bred, and I like the fact that a game I like comes from the south. I'm not sure if the Chenault boys are from the south, but their game is, which gets it marks from me.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Little Spitballing

So, I've been thinking. I like to stick as much with free RPGs as possible. It's not even a monetary thing because I usually print them or have them printed. It's just a preference. As we all know, the basic rules for 5E are freely available. I printed the player and DM pdfs this weekend and did some home binding. I've been thinking about using just these as the basis for a hypothetical campaign. Stick with the classic classes and races, as presented. Clean and simple, and in only one book (not including house rules and such, see below).

Even though the core books aren't free, I would cull from them certain things, kind of like incorporating articles from Dragon. I would include Feats. I think that between Backgrounds and Feats, it really is possible to take the "Core Four" and create most, if not all, the additional classes, to some degree. I would likely include Colleges for wizards and Domains for clerics, as much for campaign flavor as anything else.

Over at the City of Iron there is an excellent series of posts on race-as-class. Mr Norman takes the dwarf, elf, and halfing from 5E and gives them a very nice B/X twist.

A short post, I know, but it is a brief idea in the description. I may while away some time this afternoon knocking together some class/background/feat combos to represent some of the other classes. If I'm happy with how it is working, I'll post them.