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Foundation

A few years back, I had other posts on this site. I took them down on purpose. That’s my prerogative, as it’s my blog and all that jazz. The decision wasn’t based on anything so much as my desire to start fresh. See, I’ve changed my mind on gaming, since last I wrote anything here, and I feel that those previous posts no longer accurately reflect my position. There are some things that remain constant and I will address those topics again, starting with this one: f^@# point-buy systems.

I wrote before about AD&D (2nd) and an option to create your own classes. It’s listed in the DMG. Basically, you address each skill/ability as a unique talent that a character might possess. That talent has a cost assigned to it. As you add abilities to your “new” class, the cost goes up. This total, then, is multiplied against a static value for each level of experience (at some incremental ratio, like 400 for level 1, 800 for level 2, 1600 for level 3, etc.). Thus a class with many powerful abilities might have a high total modifier and characters in that class take longer to go up levels.

“That’s not a point-buy system.” Correct, disembodied voice inside my head, it is not. A point-buy system gives a set number of points to the player who can construct a unique character by purchasing abilities. The player might even take limitations or flaws that give back points; regardless, the goal is to spend all available points and use future points to buy new (or to upgrade old) abilities.

Take note: there are three critical differences between the AD&D custom class system and a standard point-buy system –

  1. A point-buy system puts the points (and the decision) in the hands of the player.
  2. A point-buy system provides a clear limit by assigning a starting pool of points.
  3. A point-buy system is usually associated with a point-based advancement system.

This is why I like the AD&D custom class system: it doesn’t do those things.

Point-buy systems place too much into the hands of the player. I don’t mean to say that player agency is bad, or that players shouldn’t be able to make choices about their characters, or anything else that you might misunderstand about that statement. I mean simply this: stop letting your players waste their time on character creation. That is bulls#!^. They should be wasting their time playing the f^@#!#& game.

So yes, I use a custom class methodology for designing my game. But the classes are set. I have the option of changing them and I welcome input from the players concerning which classes should change, why they should change, and whether there’s a need for a new class (presumably to address a gap in the game world). But I retain the right to veto stupid decisions.

Why Your D&D Sucks S#!^

It’s true. I know, it’s hard to accept, but you have no f^@%!#@ clue what you’re doing.

You started playing years ago when it was fresh and new, and the world was filled with an endless potential. All those adventures; all those dragons to destroy, those dungeons to delve. But you grew older and your game didn’t grow with you. The “official” rules are the same recycled tripe they were in the ’80s. And you know it. You know deep inside that you’re still playing a child’s game. You know that the glassy-eyed stare from your players signals the heat-death of your hobby. And you have no f^@%!#@ idea how to fix it.

Maybe you’re new to the hobby. The publisher has made an industry out of packaging their s#!^ with pretty artwork and fancy marketing schemes that leverage the opinions of the hobbyist (by gathering the most vocal and oft repeated fallacies from the internet), and so you could be a newcomer. You’re not familiar with the older games but you are familiar with the forum discussions, with online articles and social media gaming groups. You’ve encountered the arguments, you’ve analyzed the math and you can’t understand why the game is written the way it is. I mean, clearly, after 30 years of design and development, surely the authors would have figured out how to solve all these problems. Surely they’d be able to offer better advice on how to build a world or a fantasy city or a rational weather system…

But they can’t. So it doesn’t matter. That’s how you deal with it. Clearly, these things are not important because the powers-that-be have deigned to not include them in the Rules As Written. Clearly it’s better to nit-pick over the small details and rehash the same concepts again and again until our brains bleed through our pores.

Or maybe your D&D sucks s#!^ because you’re thinking about the wrong thing. You’re focused on the small details. You’re arguing over the definition of hit points or what it means to be a PC vs. an NPC. You think you’re talking about game balance or fantasy economics or the best way to structure the skill rules, when you’re really talking about how to manage people or how to address a complicated topic in a systematic manner (like treasure tables or random encounters).

That’s the rub, isn’t it? It’s not that the skill system isn’t worth discussing. It’s that when you think you’re talking about skills, you’re really talking about s#!^^% players who hog the spotlight and you’re a s#!^^% DM who can’t manage the s#!^^% players and keep them from behaving like little s#!^s during your game.

That’s okay. There are others like you out there. I’m one of them. And I’m here to help you through it.

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