Wednesday, May 30, 2012

+X Magic Items

This one is going to get ranty.  You have been warned.  Magic items that grant +X passive bonuses aren't magical.  Sure they are technically magical items by the system definition but they do not in any way produce a sense of wonder, awe, or amazement that you would expect when obtaining a magical item.  And trying to gussy it up in a fancy get up doesn't change that.  I don't care if my character had to go on a 3 month quest through exceedingly dangerous terrain and hazards to find it.  It's still just a +X item and I the player will be looking to trade it in when the +X+Y item (where Y is a positive number) comes along.  Sure my character might have some connection to the item from the quest, but that doesn't make the item magical to me the player.  Making the +X larger also doesn't make it magical.  I the player will be happy to have a better magical item than previously, but beyond adding the bonus in when relevant I won't give a crap.  As far as I'm concerned, all +X magic items should be dropped from D&D entirely.
You want to make magical items magical?  Here's what you do.  A magic item should be active, add to your capabilities, and encourage you to think laterally.  Portable Holes, Decanters of Endless Water, and Immovable rods should be the standard for magic items.  Not the exception.  Replace all of the need for +5 longswords with system math that doesn't require the bonuses for character competency.  4e had a good start with its inherent bonus system, but I'd like to see the system not need those bonuses.  I know we'll never get back the wonder we had of our first times playing D&D when we were younger but dammit we can make it easier for our older, more cynical brains to care.

Art from GIS for "pile of swords"
LooneyDM out

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pet Collectors

We've all had that player.  You know the one.  Anything they encounter, be it animal, vegetable, or mineral, they want to keep it as a pet.  They're not even trying to game the system to min/max.  They just want lots and lots of pets.  More often than not they will fight to defend their pets, not the other way around.  In some cases the more exotic the better, in others the fluffier the better.  It's a different sort of players species but be aware if you have one because they'll want to take it home.  Whatever 'it' may be.

Art from here
LooneyDM out

Friday, May 25, 2012


There was quite the rush on the WotC servers yesterday with the open play test going live.  As a result quite a few people were unable to obtain the files immediately.  They may have felt a little bit excluded.  I know I did.  I mean it took mean an entire day to finally get the play test.  Now I just have to find players to inflict it upon.

Art from GIS for 'Exclusion'
LooneyDM out

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


You know you like it when you're players aren't overly paranoid.  They're much more heroic that way.  However they can get too heroic.  Which can lead to them making some less than stellar judgement calls.  Of course if you're playing with the right group this simply becomes hilarious rather than tragic.  It's always a balancing act as a DM.  Lean too far one way on the consequences of the players' actions and they become worried at the slightest inclination of danger.  Lean too far the other way and they charge in headlong at the first inclination of danger.  Both are on the edges of what I prefer as a DM.

Art from here
LooneyDM out

Monday, May 21, 2012

Roll With It

Harry Dresden is entirely a PC.  No question about it.  Imagine running a game for him.  Obviously there are people running games for him in his world, but they can't be any less crazy than the adventures he has himself.  Also a friendly reminder that sometimes the best moments happen when you let your players run wild.

Art from here
LooneyDM out

Friday, May 18, 2012

Class Stereotypes

We all know that rogues steal (even from their own party), paladins have sticks up their asses, and bards are uselessly goofy.  Or are they?  Wouldn't it be more interesting if they had non-stereo typical personalities? Wouldn't there be so much less friction in the party if the paladin and the rogue could get along?  What if they were both of the same faith?  Or for an even crazier twist, siblings?  Imagine this.  Two siblings of a noble house that has fallen from grace or into hard times.  One of them is adopted from the streets.  Which one is it?  Who knows.  Stereotypical it would be the rogue classed sibling, but what if it was the paladin classed sibling?  The blood born noble child goes through life developing social deftness and lightness of foot to deal with court situations while the adopted noble child cultivates a passion for protecting others after seeing the abuse of the poor and destitute on the streets.  Food for thought.

Art from here
LooneyDM out

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On the subject of healing

Being the healing class in RPGs, both computer and tabletop, can be a thankless endeavor.  Oddly enough I enjoy playing what has come to be known as the "leader" archetype in D&D style games.  That is not to say I enjoy playing the healbot.  I do find the healbot an interesting tactical game within MMOs when played real time, but not during a turn based game.  Turn based games also tend to not give you enough resources to maintain your comrades round to round.  What I find most enjoyable is the combined application of buffs and healing in combat situations.  The ability to humble brag is sweet too.  No one wants to listen if you're gabbing about your character's +[insert impressive number here] to hit, but they're much more open to hearing about the +[insert impressive number here] to hit that the buff you just gave them is giving them.  My own source of amusement and all.

Art from here
LooneyDM out

Monday, May 14, 2012

Crappy Entertainment

It's fine to enjoy crappy entertainment as long as you realize your entertainment is crappy.  According to Sturgeon's Law, 90% of everything is crap.  Whether or not that is true you have a high probability of liking something that is crap.  This is fine.  You should not feel bad about yourself for liking it.  You should only feel bad if someone tells you crap you enjoy is crap and you get defensive about it.  Hating people for telling you your crap is crap is pointless.  Hating people because they don't like the same crap as you do is also pointless.  Looking down on people because they enjoy crap is also pointless.  Which this all leads to lots of pointless arguing.  So cut it out already.  If someone tells you stuff you enjoy is crap, consider their points.  Just because you like something doesn't mean it is the best thing ever.  If you feel a need to respond to their points, do so in a calm and respectful manner.  If you can't agree you should both walk away from the argument.  Save the needing to be right for bigger stuff than edition wars or Star Trek vs Star Wars.  Additionally just because you don't like something doesn't make it automatically crap.  Before judging like that consider the points of people who like it.  if you still don't agree, walk away.  So enjoy your crap and let everyone enjoy their crap too.

Art from here
LooneyDM out

Friday, May 11, 2012


Tell your players the hallway is perfectly safe and they won't believe you.  Not until they've checked it at least 3 times.  But tell them it's trapped.  Oh then the fun begins.  You can be entirely truthful.  They still might not believe you.  In any inevitability they will assume you couldn't possibly be telling the truth about something like that.  Not when they haven't checked for traps yet.  Maybe they'll double check.  But more likely they'll blaze ahead safe in their belief that you wouldn't ever tell them something so unabashedly like that.  *twang* goes the arrow trap.

Art from GIS for "this is a trap"
LooneyDM out

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Falling Damage

Falling damage is a great short example of how mechanical rules can shape player behavior.  In systems like 3.5 D&D where falling damage is capped at 20d6 damage you reach a point where falling ceases to be an issue for characters.  In some cases it can be preferable to their alternatives.  Jump out the tower window and take the falling damage or face down a wizard monster with spells that target your bad saves?  Not the best of choices but sometimes it's the only one you have.  It doesn't even have to be the max damage.  As long as the fall takes less than your maximum hit points, vigor points, or life points higher level players will fall off of high places rather than try to take a "safe" way down.  Of course this leads to silly considerations, like high level fighters and barbarians falling from low orbit and walking away from the impact.  So if you're building a RPG system and you don't want these sorts of shenanigans, keep your falling damage scaled to the stylings you desire for your system.

Art from here
LooneyDM out

Monday, May 7, 2012

Brain Freeze

Ever have sessions when you can't remember rules that you've used every week.  You can't recall how the game is supposed to work or the motivation for the NPCs simply escapes you?  I know I have.  When the creative juices flow not except to random places that aren't helpful.  I mean really, coming up with a new way to use cleric spells is all well and good but doesn't fix the problem of the players asking about lore that I haven't thought up yet.  Brain Freeze!  It's like an ice cream headache (save ends).  

Image from GIS for brain freeze
LooneyDM out

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mixed Tier Parties

So I saw the Avengers today.  Short review:  Go see it.  On to the topic at hand.  Towards the end of 3.5 there arose a discussion that focused on the disparities between different classes.  Some classes get all the toys, others not so much.  This was distilled down into a terminology called the tier system.  Other times exemplified by the phrase "Linear Fighter, Quadratic Wizard".  Generally mixing the tiers is asking for trouble.  The classes in the higher tiers simply have too many more options than the lower ones.  Of course that brings us to the humor in today's poster.  The Avengers would seem to fit this paradigm.  Why do you need Captain America if you have Thor?  Why Hawkeye when you have Iron Man?  The best part about it is the movie answers these questions.  Especially the final battle scene.   Many action movies don't pace their battle scenes well

Art from GIS for "Avengers movie"

It's been a while, so quotes from my "A-team in eberron" style game:

Iannes: (( just focus on keeping your eyes on the air and hands at 10 and 2 ))

Iannes: Listen, you snivelling good for nothing caster, I didn't drag you out of the mage's academy for you to help me make a lot of money as a freelance mercenary for you to cry every time some poofy git shoots you with an arrow! NOW BUCK UP!
Iannes: (( That's inspiring....right? ))

Pitch: "More punning! It pleases the trickster gods and turns things in our favor!"

Markarian: the sewers? i just got my clothes cleaned
Rendar: Less worrying about clothes and more saving the girl.

Markarian: (( crap, sewer monster got him ))
Rendar: (( Or...sewer, crap monster got him. ))

LooneyGM: (( what sort of controller are you? ))
Markarian: (( the kind that mops up the mobs ))
Pitch: (( Munitions. He's a munitions controller. ))
LooneyDM out

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


It is my understanding that miscommunication is an issue between players and DMs, especially at the start of games.  One assumes one thing, the other assumes another and you're off on a merry chase when someone brings a looney character to your serious business RP game.  Or the other way right round.  Matters not.  The communication is what you should be focusing on.  Amazing how many disagreements in games come down to miscommunication.  It's the sorting out of those miscommunications that causes the problems.  Best to be up front so they rarely happen.

Art from GIS for "crossovers"
LooneyDM out