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Topics - Drul Morbok

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1
Gaming Tales / Christmas session experiment
« on: December 22, 2018, 08:27:44 AM »
Hi, I just wanted to share an idea for an adventure I might be running these days - it mainly consists of two aspects:

First of all, the session starts with the characters knowing nothing about themselves - from what they can tell during the first hour or so, they just got magically resurrected from death, in a facility where such tasks are performed quite often. They will be told that loss of memory, or illusionary memories, are a common condition after resurrection, but that they will soon be remembering it all, I.e. them being three out of eight generals of The Mercenary Fortress, the worldwide center of power and authority.
Top elite stuff, but without memory and with reduced access to abilities. And they died on a failed mission.

The second aspect is dividing the playing day into "system phases" of at most one hour, where players will be sitting around a table and mostly roll dice according to the D&D system, and "free phases" where everyone can either do out-of-game stuff like shopping, going for a walk, cooking, doing online stuff - or or engage in free roleplaying not tied to any system.

The second component is important, as the "amnesia twist" leads to lots of doubt, intrigue and so on:
For example the question will rise if they really got resurrected, or if they got brainwashed and tricked into believing this. Also the eight generals are constantly scheming against each other and following their own agenda. So the players will have to decide whom they trust (or mistrust least) - there is no "right" decision within the setting.

In short, here is what I hope to gain from such a setting:
- Eliminating the impact of the real world of the players: If the characters talk about atoms and molecules, or about feminism, or about burgers and tacos...well, it's just their "memories from afterlife" and it doesn't matter if such things do exist or are plausible within the game world.
- Similarly, eliminating "knowledge spoilers"... If players find a dead body with a hole in the empty head, and ask things like "does my character know of mind flayers?", I could even give them the monster manual and say " If you want to, that's what you think you remember, but it might be false memories ".
- Steering character knowledge by having them "remember" something, eliminating the "wouldn't the character have known this from the beginning?" question.
- Moral issues. The Mercenary Fortress is definitively no "good-aligned" organization, and the generals the characters are playing where rather unscrupulous and callous in their "former lives". Will the characters at some point question their orders, or will they cast aside all moral quarrels as temporary side effect of resurrection amnesia?
...

Maybe it would be helpful to give an example of how the adventure might run:
The game start at the resurrection site, which is not within the Mercenary Fortress. After being told what they need to now, they are sent back to the fortress on their own on a dangerous path, leading to some d&d combat scenes. They will also be ambushed by an other general, but after defending well enough, the general will casually stop attacking and jovially state that this time, they sure got back strong. He will claim that it is quite normal and even accepted to attack the newly resurrected - should they be killed, it is only because the resurrection left them weak, so it will be like better luck next time. In fact, generals are fighting each other regularly and they are all about manipulating, blackmailing and tricking, but the stability of the system relies on them not actually killing each other - well at least that's what the attacking general is claiming.

At the Mercenary Fortress, they will learn that the Mercenary Fortress is led by a commander and the eight generals are directly subordinates to him, and that he is calling them together for a mission briefing.
It will turn out that the commander is a priest of Tiamat, and is wielding an extremely powerful black scythe, an artefact of his Deity... or a least used to, as he will open the meeting by stating that Tiamat is testing him by taking away the power of the scythe, and having him prove his worth as commander on his own.
So he is openly asking "now answer me: Who is your commander?".
After some talk, one general claims that he is not willing to follow a weakened leader and charges the commander - who still seems able to slay him easily by grappling him.with one outstretched hand and make the attacker's body pulsate with his heartbeat that gets more and more intense, until with a final beat fountains of blood are squirting from his nose, eyes, ears and so on, instantly killing him.
Another general will claim that such cheap blood magic will not work on him (he might be a lich), and will also attack, but be hit by some arrow that first liquifies and than evaporates his body. Behind the commander, there is a black cloak of vaguely human shape, and without turning, the commander smiles a funless smile and states "oh well, I never thought I might be thankful for knowing an assassin behind me".
The cloak speaks in a deep voice "Nothing is too dead to be killed by an assassin. As to your question, I wanted to mention that I hereby renew my vow of loyalty, oh my commander. Who is against you, is against us".

The commander will conclude that he considers his question fully answers, and if no one else is still doubting (he is looking around, but everyone seems to agree), he will now be telling them the mission.

After that here would be the " free phase ".
The commander's mission is open about how to achieve it. The players can walk through the Fortress, search for equipment, allies, intrigue, and so on.
They can try to form an alliance against the commander and the assassin, or they can defend them against others who might. They might like the commander but fear that right now he is owing the assassin a favor, thereby endangering the balance of power among the generals.
Or they might just care about their mission...about which I might soon be writing more, but right now all that matters is that the mission will include lots of d&d dice rolling again. It will also be influenced by some decision the players can make in the free phase.

I hope my intension is clear - otherwise feel free to ask.
I think I will be writing more on it soon.

2
The Art of the Game Master / The omniscient holodeck
« on: April 02, 2018, 01:22:09 PM »
For my game world I also integrated an idea based on Star Trek's holodeck - which I assume to be known enough not to explain.

I came up with the conclusion that the holodeck could not be used to find out something unknown to its creator/programmer
 I could enter the holodeck and say "build a particle accelerator", or I might go to some console and specify. Then I might conduct experiments and measure results.
But I might as well look into source code of holodeck software.
The result of an experiment within the holodeck should have a deterministic outcome based on its algorithm and the data I enter.

So a society that builds a holodeck can not gain knowledge from it.
At least that's the way I see it, but I might be wrong...in any case, I wanted to build a story around a holodeck without this limitation.

In some other thread I wrote about a religion claiming science as its faith, and they revere a God that provides the holodeck (of course its not really a holodeck in my game world) with all the knowledge he has about the world...well, only scientific knowledge, its not an oracle, its more like a simulator to create laboratory conditions. A perfect science lab, not limited by issues like energy consumption, able to provide 100% pure elements and shutting of all external influence like gravitation and background radiation.
But as with the original holodeck, you can not take anything out of it, so the society would feature a huge gsp between knowledge and synthesis. They might know the theory of mass defect and about the speed of light, but not use electricity or the steam engine in their daily live.

So for me the whole thing has two purposes:
Thinking about how such a society might develop...and which roleplaying stories might arise from.it.
And creating alternative physics...I mentioned the mass defect as an example, but that does not mean my gamecworld mechanics will use the atom model.

3
Gaming Tales / Players at wordbuilding
« on: March 31, 2018, 07:17:52 AM »
Unfortunately I plan a lot more than I actually play, so most of what I write here about ideas and settings still waits to be met by actual players. But here's a new idea I already found interested potential players for:

It seems to me that in many settings, players are expected to react rather than act: If the players do not step in, someone else will reach his goal (or sometimes not reach it), and this would be bad for the game world.
I want the players to be the initiators: If they do not step in, things will go on as they are, but they do have an ambition to change it.

Maybe an example would do best:
I might ask my friends "Hey, what about a campaign where the protagonists get access to an artefakt that gives total control over a race of shapeshifters created by said artefact?" (I guess the source of inspiration is obvious  ;))
One of them might say "Why, yeah. This sounds like a perfect tool for someone who wants to take over rulership in his kingdom, realm, whatever"
Another one might say "Yes, but maybe not take over rulership, just control the current rulership because we think ist is weak. We are loyal to our nation, including whatever current authority, but we dream of restoring former glory. Less petty struggles"
Than I might say "Well, in this case, I already thought of something called the War Vale. Wanna hear?"
[...http://www.khoras.net/Khoras/Civil/Nations/War%20Vale/Warvale.htm...]
The might say "yes, this would be a cool campaign: Using this artefact to somehow unite the War Vale. Not becoming rulers of it, more like a paramilitary secret service...never seen, but able to install a nation-wide legal system and military, getting people to get their identification from being citizens of War Vale and not of their duchies."
I might say "Wait, wait, the Rukemian Empire might get nervous about a unified military. Come to think of, it, they might prefer the current state and already be actively working on keeping it that way."
They might say "OK, in this case out goal is independence from Rukemenia"
I might say "Well, I can't promise success, but you DO have a powerful artefact, and it sounds like something that someone in the game world might try, and if we stretch the campaign over decades of ingame time, inserting time lapse periods,...and you know, even failure could make for an interesting story. Let's do it.
Oh, by the way, did I say that you DO have a powerful artefact? Well, that's not quite true. You DO have pretty certain indications of where to find it, but doing so would be the first part of the campaign.
So now let's talk about what group of characters might secretely come together to plan and conduct all of it."
[...]

And so on. In any case, much of was planned before could be changed sooner or later thereby deviating from Khoras canon. The fact that I used some Khoras names above is to (somehow) properly credit my source of inspiration, and because it comes with a lot of information I'd otherwise would have to first invent and than write in my post.
Ocean travel might seem too much, so I (or rather *we*) might do away with all geography, history and so on that comes from Khoras. A whole race of shapeshifters might be too much, so we might change it to an artefact that can create and keep alive a small number of shapeshifters at a time.

And of course the players might make different decisions in the first place. Maybe they want to use the artefact to incite a "savage" race to an uprising, centering the campaign around the Mandalar.

In any case, I'm looking forward to trying such a (at least for me) new approach, since my former approaches were more like first creating the world and the strory hook, an than presenting it to players who made their characters without knowing much about what awaited them.

4
The Art of the Game Master / Metaphysical sidenote: space and time
« on: March 31, 2018, 05:12:13 AM »
I just wanted to mention something I came up with for my game world:

Within it, people believe in a 5-dimensional world. Or, as they'd say, there are five directions, three of wich can be walked either way, and two that can only be walked one way.
The first three are spatial (up/down, forward/backward, left/right), the latter two are temporal (earlier, later).

So past and future are independent dimensions, rather than forward and backward on the same axis.
This effectively removes all kind of time travel paradoxa - if you first "travel" one minute into the future, and than one minute into the past, you do not end where (or rather "when") you started, but sqrt(2) minutes away from it (by the theorem of Pythagoras).
There is no such idea as to "turn back time" - time only turns forward, either into the past or into the future.

This might be hard to imagine for someone used to think of time as one axis, but someone used to think of it as two axes and never coming up with the idea of one axis could live consistently in this worldview, at least in a fantays word. And he would in turn find theidea of one axis rather strange.
And to be honest...I'm not even sure if modern real-world science could easily prove the idea of two time axes wrong (there even might already be such a theory of two axes, but if so I do not remember it).

5
Gaming Tales / The Prismate – Story idea
« on: March 03, 2018, 03:14:39 PM »
I had the following idea as a part of a rather special setting for my campaign.  I present it with the hope that parts of it might be used for any campaign – and because I like the sharing of creativity around here ;-)
I should add that the idea is based on idioms and metaphors that work in German. I try to translate them when I feel confident about it, but some of it can't be translated...at least not by me. I will mention and explain any borders I meet.

The idea assumes a setting where it s considered normal that supernatural beings take natural forms. Human form, animal form, but also the form of a spring, a cloud, a rainbow and the like.
Mortal beings within the setting tend to keep their heads low, as speaking and even thinking of those beings only attracts their attention – the attraction of beings with purposes beyond human reasons and reasoning, beyond human values. Bad idea.
Most importantly, players can not assume to find out what „really“ happened, since even the GM would not necessarily know whether the recent encounter was a god, a ghost, an illusion or anything else.
At least that's how I encorporate it in my game world. Feel free to do everything different ;-)


The encounter:
At the beginning of a campaign/adventure, the players meet a strange figure. It looks like a human-sized and -shaped jester, with a fool's cap, a venetian-style mask and gloves, so that no skin is visible. The garment is black and white only in some „symmetrically complementary“ way (not sure if this expression fits – I mean that it is black on the left where it is white on the right, and vice versa).
The being is oddly prismatic/angled: No matter where you look at it, you always seem to look at a flat surface. Quite obviously, there need to be edges or roundness, but you never seem to able to put your glance on them.
The being talks in a pleasant voice, always in complete and rather sophisticated sentences. It likes using metaphors involving sight, light, and the like, and whenever it does, „eyeholes“ in the mask glow in a color that's...well, it's a color, but impossible to tell which color: For example, when players make a comment about it, it will call them „bright“ or talk about it „dawning on them“ or them „seing daylight“, always accompagnied by emitting light fro the eyeholes.
At some point, it will use an axpression about it „looking through“ the players, emitting light that just seems to pass through the players.

If the players try to attack it, it will move in a strange fashion: a side of his face will...well, imagine the photoshop effect of drag&dropping a point of the face, so that the head will get cone-shaped woth the tip of the cone being several meters away, then sucking the being into that cone and reshaping below the tip of the cone (phew, hard to describe).
In any case, it will evade any attack.

Later, if the player talk to any „normal“ NPC about the encounter, some wise-guy will tell them the following:
„Do you know how seing and sight really work? You tend to say that you throw your glance at the world, but this is not quite true. In truth, it is Retmayeb's eye [GM note; he's pointing at what we would call the sun] is throwing its glance at the world, and the world is reflecting His glance into your eyes, so that you can perceive the world.
Light ist sight.
This in turn means that all knowledge about what ever happend in the world lies within the glance of Retmayeb, within the light.
The being you met, the Prismate, has control over the word 'light' [but see below]. Therefore, it commands truth as you know it. It is said that the Prismate can take away all truth from you, it can take away what you might call your past. What used to be truth earlier is no more.
It does so by 'looking through' anyone.“

GM note: In the minimal version, this is an ingame explanation for why player characters do not have a background story. Their past was taken away from them.
Also the metagame idea of „gaining Xps/levels“ could be turned so that the Prismate is giving the players back their past. Or it is turning whatever idea into players' reality. If you like this more than the idea of players getting more powerful by „experience“.

In my setting, the incorporation of this being into the game world goes much deeper, but it does not have to:
In German, there is a term „Wortklauber“ - „wort“ meaning „word“, and „klauben“ being a verb that might be translated as „to pick“, generally to pick something interesting/valuable from the floor from amidst rubble. A „Wortklauber“ is someone who uses words as it fits his own purpose...somehow pedantic, but there's more to it (online dictionaries translate the term as „verbalist“).
And there is an idiom that literally translates as „getting something/ a word into the wrong throat“ (maybe „taking something the wrong way“).

In my game world, mortals could literally „get a word into the wrong throat“, and the word would stick there, turning into a bitter lump in the throat. Some people trie to spit it out by force, and the word is mighty enough to tear those people into pieces. Others reach a symbiotic relationship with the word, and those are calles „wortklauber“.
The original idea was inspired by sorcerers from D&D 3rd, so a „wortklauber“ might be a mage whose magic is working on words and idioms rather than on schools of magic.
So the Prismate would be someone who "got the word 'light' into the wrong throat", but as the relationship is symbiotic, the very principle of light is commanding this being as much as this being is commanding light.

As a said, at some point the whole idea can not be translated. I hope my description is still at least interesting to read.
I will soon continue and elaborate why words do have such a great influence when they get stuck in throats ;-)

6
General Discussion and Questions / Subterranean sailing?
« on: January 07, 2018, 01:36:27 AM »
Hi everyone,
reading the page about the dwarven race, I stumbled upon the following sentences:
"There are a number of underground rivers, lakes and even seas in the vast underworld of Khoras. The dwarves sail these subterranean waterways in squat, thick hulled vessels called durogars. These sturdy vessels have broad bellies, are typically three levels tall, are tiller steered and have two square sails."

This made me wonder about subterranean wind conditions.
I can easily imagine even strong winds in narrow tunnels, but I guess that a cavern would have to be rather huge to feature air circulation within it, and for air currents passing through a cavern, the narrow entrances should pose some kind of bottleneck for the amount of passing air, so in the wider sections of the cavern, there should be close to no wind.

But then again, my assumptions might apply only for rather regional underground complexes, and not for continent-wide underworlds, or I might fail to consider other wind sources like geothermal heat, magma reservoirs and the like.

As with all my questions, I aim for an open discussion about game world mechanics rather than for judging right or wrong.

7
General Discussion and Questions / Modern values and Fantasy world
« on: July 31, 2017, 03:20:03 PM »
Hi,
there's some conflict I can't avoid as a GM, and I'd be happy to hear other opinions:

I can't seem to stop feeling responsible for the moral within the world I create...maybe conflicting with my feeling that players often carry their ideals into my game world.
No matter the characters, they naturally seem to have a tendency to disobey authority, especially authority that RL would consider outdated like monarchistic and/or hereditary authority, or hierarchy based on race, gender, and the like.

This is kind of a dilemma, resulting in roleplaying taboos:
If I was to introduce some hints of let's say domestic violence or slavery into my campaign, I'd either expect my players to naturally be against it and base the campaign/adventure on the assupmtion that they do so - or feel kind of guilty for creating a world where such concepts would not just be considered normal, but where there never even was public duscussion questioning them.

I even feel strange for asking that question...saying that I *want* to ceate a game world where players see a husband publically beat up his wife and think "oh what a naughty thing she must have been" is not quite what I *want* to say, because..well, as I initially said, I find it hard to distinguish between my personal ideals, and the values of the world I create. But creating a world where such situations don't arise...well, to be honest, would mean creating a world that's "better" than even the society we live in.
I have to admit - I ended up in not creating such situation, where players resp. their characters would be expected not to behave somewhere between humanism and anarcholiberalism (not sure if this term really fits)...

All that said - yes, roleplaying is about fun, and some topics are not suited for fun, so if the conclusion is to keep them out of RPing, that's fine.
But then again...dystopic literature might not be "fun", but I consider it valuable literature, and..well, maybe all I said boils down to the conclusion that I find it hard to GM dystopic scenarios, because I think that a dystopic GM might be blamed more than a dystopic author...
So maybe the question is about how to display negative aspects of a game world, yet avoid appearing to idealize the world you create..

8
When I look at Khoras as a whole, I often wonder about the order in which the components came into place....let me give some examples:
- Did Khoras as a game world start at some point and from thereon develop further, or did different unrelated components from different unrelated campaigns (or other settings) at some point get joined together into one coherent setting?
- Was the Sundering always part of Khoras as a game world? It seems very central to me, maybe even the most defining aspect, from ingame point of view as well as a metaanalysis of the setting...
- Was Khoras always named Khoras?
- Did you introduce the desolation of Shidar, the Horde and the morphians together as background story for the Jaidor Talisman campaign, or did the campaign bring those together in a way you did not intend or foresee when you introduced each of them?
- When did the physical world get its final shape? When did you say something like "ok, that's the continents and that's how they are shaped and where they are"?

I don't know if such an approach is possible, but I'd love to see some timeline, some order of "creative events". I mean...I don't know how creativity works for other people, but I'd expect there are some milestones that you are very proud of, where you think Khoras would not be quite what it is today, had you not decided to introduce that very special element...

Phew, I hope I could make my question somewhat clear...
Drul

9
Announcements and News / Merry christmas
« on: December 24, 2016, 08:27:18 AM »
...everyone!
Happy holiday and some time of peace and reflection in times where one can not seem to take those for granted.

10
Gaming Tales / My game world
« on: December 24, 2016, 02:27:23 AM »
It was not my initial intension, but reading all over the forum again after years of glancing at most, I just realized HOW much I also used it as some storage room for unfinished ideas…In my posts I found ideas, story hooks, prototipical society description and all the like I had already forgotten or „invented again“ since then, albeit slightly different. And of Course I also found very valuable feedback to it ;-)

But wow, I finally reached what I might call a playable game world! So this time, rather than presenting raw ideas or joining/starting a somehow theoretical discussion, I want to contribute what I intend to keep as persistent world for roleplaying and maybe future narration (dreaming of writing stories playing within this world). Exact numbers might still change, and the world and many parts of it are yet to be named (names seem to either come first or last in my creative process...).

My game world is definitely not Khoras, but I would not hesitate one second to call Khoras.net (including the forum) the most important and valuable source of inspiration at worldbuilding. Hopefully, you will see what I mean ;-)

The physical world:
More than 98% oft he world’s surface is covered by steppe, where the soil ist rather viscous – you do not sink in when walking on it, but stones lying on the ground would, within some hours, depending on size and density. The ground is not perfectly flat, but appears to be wavy – well, it actually IS wavy, and the „waves“ are moving. If watched in fast motion, it would appear like one of those huge plastic swimming pools after you give a punch to one side at ground level – at first, the waves spread concentrically from above impact point, but then they bounce back from other walls and start interfering. Some waves might cancel out each other, some might add up, some might create vortices. Well, that kind of pattern, but al LOT slower. Still fast enough to make it hard to recognize terrain after a year, and impossible to create anything like maps. You also could not build any permanent structure, especially not made of stone. The movement reaches deep, it’s not just on the surface, but you would not easily know or notice this within the game world. But it can result in some kind of rogue waves that appear like huge wandering dunes, with a rather steep „slip face“ in direction of movement, which can be as fast as several meters per day (about 100 times as fast as normal „waves“ would).

This might give the impression of dunes in a dessert, but they are not shaped by wind or water, and the effect is not being based on fine-grained material but rather on kinetic energy of the mass oft he ground moving. So the wave analogy is a lot more accurate than the dune analogy – well, actually it’s more appropriate to think of the steppe as an ocean, for physical analogy as well as for gaming purpose, as follows (side note: there is even at least one ship-like vessel travelling around in the steppe).

The rest is terra firma, resting on a floating fundament (OK, so it‘s not that „firma“, but for lack of better word) - or rather about 100 separated „isles“, to stick to the ocean analogy as well as ingame terminology. They are about evenly distributed within the steppe, making them rather isolated from each other, since not only physical aspects of the steppe greatly hamper exchange between themSmaller „isles“ might be about 10 square kilometers, huges ones seveal 1000, but those are extremes. Most are between 50 and 300 square km. Average nearest distance between neighboring islands is about 50 kilometers, although more isolated ones might be as far as 200 km from the nearest neighbor.

Travelling between „islands“ is possible mainly for organizations, of which there’s few, and some soldiers of fortune and the like. The main reason is the Barbarians in the steppe, who attack anyone entering. Their reputation as bloodthirsty, aggressive killers however is mainly the result of cultural misunderstanding and ignorance. For example, if you wave your empty hand to a Barbarian as a greeting along the lines of „I’m not armed“, the Barbarian will understand it as „I do not consider you a warrior“, in turn reacting along the lines of „I’ll show you WHO’s not a warrior around here“…which in the past has wept out many a group „coming in peace“.
For groups of up to five people, the Barbarians will send a scouting party of youngsters, intending to start a fight. If the scouting party is utterly destroyed by the entering group, the Barbarians will consider the group harmless and let them pass without further incident. Their logic is simple: Up to five is no invasion army itself, and if it was the advance party of an invasion army, they would have left one survivor to tell the news. Knowing this, especially the player’s party should be able to navigate through the steppe without problems…as far as the Barbarians are concerned, that is. Of course there’s more danger out there.


To be continued...


Metagame section:
I have to admit…the setting of the physical world is far away from the Khoras setting. Maybe surprisingly, maybe not, I’d compare it to Star Trek :D
Of course, Star Trek features planets in space rather than „islands“ in a steppe, but than again, most episodes I remember that involve visiting a planet take place within an area that doesn’t seem (or at least does not have) to be larger than my „islands“. To put it short: I want a world full of smaller worlds. The smaller worlds are rather monolithic and consistent within themselves, and quite often rather isolationist, either by decission or dictated by circumstances. On some islands, they might not even know about or believe in other islands, others might be pre-industrial or even futuristic when compared to our history, using their technology to seal them off from the rest oft he world. In any case, most islands are rather unique in appearence, and their inhabitants quite often larger-than-life (not sure if this expression really matches what I mean) in their attitude.
The principle of territorial expansion is rather uncommon, islands do not tend to invade or conquer each other. Apart from the fact that the Barbarians hardly would let pass such an army, it would be a major challenge to organize occupation. That does not mean that islands do not dominate over other islands, it’s just not militaristic.

To be continued....

11
Gaming Tales / Story hook / riddle
« on: December 22, 2016, 12:11:35 PM »
Hi everyone,
I just imagined a situation, lets say at some high-ranking dinner, where a young playful girl, lets say the host's daughter, sneaks up to a participant from behind, covers his eyes with her hands, merrily asking "who am I?". The participant, obviously not getting the point, answers "You're the young girl I saw earlier playing in the garden...presumable the daughter of our dear Mr. [whatever]".

Now let the players conclude what's going on, and how to react ;-)

12
General Discussion and Questions / Back to Khoras
« on: November 19, 2016, 04:00:56 PM »
Hi everyone,
Phew, I just realized HOW long I have stayed inactive here
I feel like coming back and resurrect some ides in old threads, so just checking who's still around here..and how everyone's doing  :D
Drul

13
The Art of the Game Master / Having fun with game mechanics....
« on: October 02, 2013, 05:40:14 PM »
Hey everybody,
8 or 9 years ago, I had my first try on GMing, a single-player campaign with a friend of mine who had studied some years of chemistry. We quickly agreed that the game world did not have to be consistent with what he had learned at university, but that the rules for some in-game effects should be consistent enough to allow for their own scientific explanation.
Of course this would be too big a claim to discuss in all aspects, but we especially had two favourite topics: Invisibility and darkvision as seen in 3rd ed. D&D.

Invisibility, of course, has always been a popular topic at almost any time in almost any culture. So I already had read some SciFi literature containing some thoughts about it, the main one being that an invisible person should be effectively blind: If you become totally translucent, or find some way of bending or teleporting the light around you, there will by definition be no light reaching your retina. One might find a different explanation of how "seeing" actually works, but I think that would be overkill.
So either you should keep your visual organs visible for them to work (the retina alone would not be enough since it relies on the light being focused by a lens and dimmed by the pupil), suffer those consequences, or find an in-game way around it.
Another question that always intrigued me is the idea of invisibility as an illusion, either in the mind of the onlooker, or as a hologram-style "chameleon suit" portraying the background. In either case, people can not see you while you can still see them - but they also should not be able to see what's happening behind you. In a modern example, if such an insvisible person stepped in front of a running TV screen, would other people still actually see what's running on TV?


I should add that none of those are yes/no questions. I have not found any "best" solution so far, and I certainly don't want the topic to go the way of a general debate ;-)
I rather think that each consideration could make for some interesting roleplaying situation. Even if you don't care about the laws of optics, it might still be interesting to have players putting some ring of her finger becoming blind, while becoming invisible for the others. Than put on that smart-ass smile while they try to remove curses, or cure blindness  ;D
I mean, still than, there could be several implementation of spells that all achieve some different kind of "invisibility", some of them even being outright fraud to the credulous buyer.


The question of Darkvision turned out to be a somehow sociological one  :o
First of all, we agreed that it was a kind of misnomer, since vision and seeing are so closely tied to light-based effects, that non-light based perception should not be called "vision" or "sight". For lack of other words, I'll use them anyway...
We agreed that when seen with darkvision, there are neither reflecting surfaces, nor translucent materials. A perfectly polished silver plate would look almost the same as a perfectly even and even-colored stone plate - or a glass plate. And if you're looking "in" a mirror, you see the same flat surface. So with darkvision only, it's pretty hard to know how you really "look like". I decided that this was going to have "some" impact on such races' self-perception as well as behavior in general...
To spice it up, I added the unexplained fact that gold is the only material that actually "reflects" darkvision. Most sentient being consider this a mystical or holy property of gold, and actually believe that they are being granted "visions" when looking at gold (and maybe they are even right, who knows  ;D). That's why some underground races downright crave for gold  :D

If even perfectly clear water is deeper than a few inches, so. using darkvision can't tell how deep it is, or what's in there, so most underground dwellers tend to be very cautious about any body of water deeper than a puddle....
To make such underground dwellers somehow surface-compatible, I decided that they additionally had conventional vision - but not necessarily the best of both combined  ;)
Followind D&D terminology, if you have darkvision, it has some specified range, usually 90 feet i think - which also is the limit of depth perception! A D&D dwarf standing on an open field in broad daylight might feel like within a globe with a radius of 90ft, the walls displaying moving pictures. He would almost surely fail if he was trying to aim a ranged weapon, or estimating any distance, beyond that range.
Looking upwards to the sky for him would be some kind of equivalent of a human looking down into a seemingly bottomless hole.

This might be a rather bad basis for a long-term campaign including such races as PCs, but right now writing this, I'm having a creative flash  8)
In this year's after-X-mas session, I'll have all PCs be dwarves that have to leave or abandon some undergorund dwelling and travel the surface...suffering the aforementioned consequences for the duration of the session. They'll never know how far a Mountainis away, they can't navigate by the stars, and they most likely don't understand surface cartography, except for the "ranger" with an ancient map...


Maybe it's a personal trait, but I rather dislike this omniscient kind of magic that makes spell always work out the way the caster intends and need them to. Like "detect poison" - even in our modern world, there still often seems to be surprisingly little agreement on what qualifies as dangerous substance under which circumstances  ::)
As above - no general "best" solution, but also the idea that it might be nice to have players find a ring of detect poison, to find out that it reacts to rather small concentrations of alcohol - by giving a rather annoying mental alert. Or make it a lout BEEP that can't be turned off. And since the ring requires one week of constant wearing to attune itself to the wearer's metabolism, the player can't take it off for an occasional sip of ale  ;D

Maybe as another personal trait, I just like adding flaws to benefits, and benefits to flaws. I think David already posted something similar, so I'm not claiming to express a new idea...rather the other way round: I think this site kind of influenced my creative work in that direction, so I enjoy contributing to it and feeling like giving something back...
So I hope those that have read so far at least somehow enjoyed it...

Drul

14
Completed / Minor stuff
« on: October 11, 2012, 05:32:46 PM »
Just noticing minor inconsistencies here and there, but most of the time, I forget them...just thought I might as well start a thread and update if I see some more.

- Spice crystal:
"A full kilogram of spice crystals can fetch as much as 150 gold pieces. One dose will fetch about  5 silver pieces on the street. One kilogram of spice crystal is equivalent to about 300 doses."

Assuming Drakkelian currency (10 silver nobles = 1 gold lord), the guys buying kilos of it are selling it on the street at cost price. Assuming the currency of any other locations where it is sold, they even make loss.
Unless I'm getting something terribly wrong....

- Brotherhood of the Serpent Tongue
It says 64,200 members on the page of the organization, but only 4,200 on the organization overview site. I think you increased the number following one comment in the forum.

15
The Art of the Game Master / Variant D&D 3rd rules
« on: September 23, 2012, 01:44:56 PM »
Hi everybody,
some time ago, I stumbled upon the D&D sourcebook unearthed arcanna, an I really liked some of the variations they proposed. So I just wondered if anyone playing more or less the D&D system has tried some of those..or if not, what you think of them. I especially liked two of them, and I'm thinking about adopting them, so I present them here. But please feel free to write just about everything that comes to your mind about such modifications.

- Replacing the D20 by 3D6. Same average result, but more moderate results, and less extreme ones. I think this might, on the one hand, make planning adventures more predictible when it comes to setting DCs. This might be personal, but I also think it's more realistic, or at least conceivable this way...most of the time, characters perform about what they are expected to be able to, and the more extreme results thend to be rarer, and also more differentiated...a natural 3 resp 18 is just about 10% as likely, so it really means soething. An natural 4 resp. 17 are still impressive, but less significant.
Just my subjective point of view - I prefer this random distribution.

- Upon casting a spell, the caster has to make some roll about some DC, with a cummulative penalty for every spell cast so far, as well as mabye other modifiers, not quite sure, I forgot the exact implementation.
The main idea was that spellcasters where not limited anymore by some set numbers of "spells per level", but rather by some more flexible and abstract concept of "level of exhaustion". They'd be free to cast easy spells all of the time, or just a few mighty ones, no matter how often they already tried to cast, they'd be alway free to try to cast once more, with some chance of succeding, and some chance of failing. The bigger the failure, the worse the consequences....

Of course, that's more than just house rules; I'D expect them to have some serious impact on how players will take their approach, so it has to be handled carefully.

So..do any of you have tried those variants, or some other? And if not, what do you think about it?
In my opinion, one of the really great things about the D&D s3rd system is its modularity - you can easily implement such changes. It needs some - well, rather a lot - of forethougt and math to keep things in whatever balance they are, but I feel it moght be worth it.

Drul

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