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General Discussion and Questions / Re: Where do the Khoras photos come from?
« Last post by Drul Morbok on July 14, 2019, 02:54:58 AM »
I remembered this thread just in time as I go to Ireland for two weeks in 3 days  8)
I try to take as many photos as possible...resultion and battery of my smartphone will limit my abilities, but I'll try to organize a camera (good idea anyway).

Edit: One of my friends that go with me does have a camera with him.
The Art of the Game Master / Re: Ingame Alignment
« Last post by Drul Morbok on July 12, 2019, 10:04:23 AM »
Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I like it - and the more I want it to deviate from the rules of D&D and the the whole genre of "stochastic" roleplaying.

The scenario as I imagine it would not gain much from rolling dice about whether the axe hits or not, and how much damage it deals. No need for hit points, strength bonus, character level.
In fact, the very idea of a distinction between player and GM could be done away with. There might be a "main inspiration giver" that does not act as arbiter. Or everyone's just a player.

It could go beyond chronological storytelling and 1:1 mapping of players to characters.

For example, at the begining of the first session, one player might come up with the idea that when the lumberjack finally meets the marauders, they are already dead - but as far as the axe is concerned, it can still be buried in their hearts.
The other players like it, but when one of them comes up with the idea that the marauders disbanded, and each now lives as commoner with wive and children, they like it even more. They might together add the detail that the slaughter happened in a war that is now over, and authorities go to great lengths to prevent "old" tensions to flare up again.
Than they continue to tell the lumberjack's story from the point he leaves the scene of slaughter.

Later they might elaborate on what formed the bond between the lumberjack and the young woman back years ago.

Than they might come up with the idea that the lumberjack's father was exiled as a "bastard" child of lesser nobles, and the marauders were actually a revolutionary force that overthrew a feudal system to install an early republic - which by the population is generally considered an improvement.

And so on...
Role Playing Discussion / Re: Are humans really a fantasy race?
« Last post by Drul Morbok on July 12, 2019, 09:07:59 AM »
Reading this topic once again made me remember something I posted in some other discussion:
The distinction between "evolving" versus "decaying" worlds.

In an evolving world, live as such evolved from primordial soup, first to single-celled, than to multi-celled organisms. It is kind of consensus that nowadays organisms are the most complex organisms so far - well, not all of them of course, and species extinction makes it all a bit more complex then my simplified model.
And of course this whole notion of "complexity" is purely anthropocentric....but after all, whoever claims that there once were more complex species would most likely be at odds with western science.

A decaying world was once inhibited by entities whose power is beyond even imagination of nowadays beings, and even on a cultural basis, modern societies are "standing on shoulders of giants", marvelling at architectural and other remnants that humankind (or however you call it in a fantays world) will never be able to create again.

There might be the "evolving world in a post-cataclysmic state" (that's how I'd classify Khoras within my model) but for my point, it would not be much different from the evolving world:
My theory is that "evolving" fantasy world tend to take magic as an explanation for a greater diversity of live forms. Without magic, humans might be only "intelligent" race, but due to magic, there's also orcs, dwarves, elves and the like.
And this assumption to me seems to implicitely lead to a general linguistic usage where humans are a non-fantasy race, just as gravity is considered a non-fantasy force, even if it applies to a fantasy world (so levitation would be seen as a supernatural way to overcome the natural laws of physics).

I'm not saying humans can't be a fantasy race in an evolving world. But I tend to assume that GM and players would have to spend a lot of time and thoughts on such a world, while it's rather easy to jump into a world where humans are standard. For example, a generally used term "humanoid" does not make much sense in a world where humans are not standard, at least not without some ingame explanation, and not everybody wants to go through this debate, and carefully stick to the language that arises from it.

Neither am I saying that in a decaying gameworld, humans automatically are played as a fantasy race. But I tend to say that is due to players not caring about the gameworld.
From what I know, D&D sourcebooks never mention primordial soup, or evolution and genetics as we know it. Races do have creator gods, at least some of them. But than again, (not only) the idea of half-orcs and half-elves seems to be so much based on how we understand genetics, so that even if there are creator gods, their actual effects seem to be diminished for the sake of an easy-access gameworld that does not deviate too much from assumptions that arise from an "evolving" world like ours.
The Art of the Game Master / Re: Ingame Alignment
« Last post by tanis on July 12, 2019, 07:44:43 AM »
That's actually a really cool idea. Certainly it would have more implications on how you roleplay than on mechanics, but I think that's fine, and potentially a source of really interesting experiences and adventures.

Also, I'll be looking for your further response, as well as Dave's, with great interest!
The Art of the Game Master / Re: Ingame Alignment
« Last post by Drul Morbok on July 12, 2019, 07:07:07 AM »
I love resurrected threads, as it's always nice to read thoughts and exchanges from some years ago.  ;D

Especially since I recently also came up with yet another idea for roleplaying alignment:
Alignment does not describe (and especially does not prescribe  ;)) what a character is like now, but what he will become. Players start as young, curious, maybe na´ve, characters that did not yet have much opportunity to develop a moral compass (beyond caring for those close to them, which also poses some kind of necessity to survive in a not too friendly world), but the key point of the campaign is a plausible explanation of what makes them what they will later be.

The way I imagine it, it is a bit like watching prequels - you know that Anakin Skywalker will one day be Darth Vader, but Anakin does not.
And spectator's knowledge does not spoil the fun - it makes for the fun.

So in some way, alignment, especially evil, could be compared to a prophecy in classic tragedy (at least in my limited knowledge) - the reader/player does know it can't be evaded, but enjoys the character's struggle between sticking to values, and embracing new power.
The whole plot is about the struggle, not the outcome. It would be boring if the protagonist could escape the prophecy/alignment by just ignoring it, and it would be equally boring if he just accepted it.

So a player that selects "lawful evil" might start as a lumberjack whose family family is slaughtered by marauders and dedicates his axe to what he first calls justice.
Another player might decide that his little sister, or early childhood girlfriend, also survived and selects her future as neutral good.
Neither character does have an alignment yet. The wohle campaign is about playing out what makes either chose their path, playing out conflicts between them, conflicts that never break their bond, but often come close.
Said lumberjack might enter some kind of pact with his axe - the axe "promises" him the opportunity to bury it in the heart of every single marauder involved in that slaughter, but until then, it requires him to bury it into someone else's heart every day. He might start what he believes to be a crusade against evil, killing "only" marauders, but one day he is confronted by the militia that requires him to stop vigilantism....

This might not be suited for a dice-heavy setting like classical D&D. It could even be most suited for roleplaying without dice - role-playing rather than roll-playing ;-)
Collaborate story-telling rather than than the players defeating the GM.

Well, after all, I'm not trying to establish a new system. But I do have some players that might enjoy playing such a setting.
And, as a side effect, even if it does not result in something like a playing session, but in discussion, I consider it a valuable inspiration on how to create plausible and somewhat morally ambiguous antagonists for more classical roleplaying ;-)

PS: I intend to write another post with regards to what you said.
The Art of the Game Master / Re: Ingame Alignment
« Last post by tanis on July 10, 2019, 06:32:47 PM »
I know I'm resurrecting an old topic, and I apologize, but I've been thinking a lot about game mechanics lately and I've been rereading some of these old posts to remind myself of things we've discussed on the forum over time. When I reread this thread, I realized I had things to say that I hadn't had the language, knowledge base, or wherewithal to add some seven years ago.

I think one of the main things I was trying to get at when I pushed back against both of your thoughts on alignment was in the different orientations we had towards how to interpret alignment. In linguistics, and numerous other disciplines, we talk about prescriptivism versus descriptivism. For instance, saying that some groups of people, or some individuals, "don't speak properly" is prescriptivist. It assumes that there is a "right" way to use language, and prescribes rules to be followed, typically justifying the privileged position of social elites by defining their language as "proper". In contrast, descriptivism assumes that all language that achieves the goals of communication is, by definition, correct, and seeks to understand and describe how it achieves those goals.

Similarly, I think your interpretation is that alignment is a prescription for how your character must behave, and I think that's got a lot to do with the way AD&D 2.0 handled class restrictions and other related mechanics by walling them off to anyone who didn't have the right alignment and, in some cases, the right rolled stats (I'm looking at you, Paladin). However, I, having had less contact with those rules (the closest I've ever come to playing AD&D is playing Baldur's Gate repeatedly, because it's great -- speaking of which, Baldur's Gate 3 is on the way, and looks like it'll be awesome, if you haven't heard or seen the trailer that was released last month), have always been predisposed to interpret alignment as a description of how your character thinks and behaves, rather than rules to follow.

Your character isn't sadistic because they're evil, they're evil because they're sadistic and cruel. Your character isn't lawful because they lack the ability to break the law, they're lawful because they value a stable society with defined standards, and are predisposed to try to act in accordance with those values.

None of what I've said is new, of course. Lots of YouTube DMs offering advice to other gamers, new and old, have said as much (among many others), and I get the sense that consensus in the hobby is beginning to shift that way already. Plus, this is the perspective that people like Jeremy Crawford and Mike Mearles openly support, so anyone paying attention to 5e's designers will probably be familiar with the ideas.

Of course, it's also enlightening to know, for instance, that alignment started out as just Lawful versus Chaotic, and was intended as a way for Gary Gygax to rein in his murder hobo players, with players being tied to the civilized forces of Law, as opposed to the despoiling forces of Chaos. Good and Evil were added during the Satanic Panic days to help defend against misguided accusations that players were modelling evil behavior. Though, the game definitely retains an underlying tendency to treat alignments as reflective of objective reality, especially in its relation to Great Wheel cosmology, I'll grant you that.

Beyond that, I guess I'd add that I've never been fond of hedonist ethical standards (i.e. pleasure-seeking/pain-avoidance), whether we're talking Epicureanism or Utilitarianism, so I'm inclined to think very differently than you on that point, Dave. If I were going to tie ethics to a game mechanic, and by so doing hardwire an ethical framework in, I'd probably be going into things with more of an Aristotelian sort of perspective (Aretaic or Virtue Ethics), or even a Kantian one, though I'd probably be prone to eliding a lot of the details of those ethical systems. What would matter in that sort of situation would be the framing of certain acts as good or evil.

But having said that, I think I'm still much more inclined to take a very loose, descriptivist approach, and just say something along the lines of, "Altruism is good, egoism is evil, and most people are somewhere in the middle. As far as law and chaos go, lawful people tend to follow laws irrespective of the justness or aptness of the laws; chaotic people tend to disregard any laws that they find distasteful, inconvenient, or unjust, for whatever reason, and follow their own whims and standards without concern for others' opinions; and those who are neutrally aligned tend to follow the law, but aren't devoted to it."

Oh, one last point. Since legend and myth, as well as Victorian and 20th Century fantasy literature, play such a large role in influencing D&D, and by extension roleplaying games in general, let me bring up a good example of a magical weapon with an alignment restriction: Excalibur. The sword Excalibur couldn't be wielded by evil people, or in service of evil actions. How did Excalibur know who was evil and who wasn't? Magic. Explain it however you like: the sword looks into your soul, or asks you to respond to philosophical thought experiments, or their exists some objective measure of good and evil (potentially related to a divine source). At the end of the day, the mechanism isn't as important to the myth as the result -- a sword that resists what it considers misuse on the part of its wielder.
Announcements and News / Re: Three Short Stories
« Last post by tanis on June 23, 2019, 04:28:18 PM »
1) "Braya", huh? I know a Callister story when I see one. ;)

2) Holy shit, those were all excellent, especially the most recent one. I especially loved the implication for all those poor henchmen and hirelings getting drug hither and yon on adventurers' business.
Announcements and News / Re: Three Short Stories
« Last post by David Roomes on June 23, 2019, 04:13:54 PM »
Thank you!

Yeah, I've been getting back into writing lately and enjoying it very much. More short stories to come, hopefully.

I've also been doing more 3D computer generated art. My goal it to release a new CG image every month for Khoras. The first new image was the Citadel, the second piece was Death's Door. Next up is the Core Crystal that was central to the Focusing/Sundering. After that, the CG art will probably be related to whatever spotlight item I'm working on that month.  That's the goal, anyway.
Announcements and News / Re: Three Short Stories
« Last post by tanis on June 23, 2019, 11:39:31 AM »
Congratulations, that's really cool!
Announcements and News / Three Short Stories
« Last post by David Roomes on June 21, 2019, 08:22:43 PM »

My best friend and creative collaborator, Mark Price, and I have written three short stories together which have been recently published in Dragon Magazine.

The first was a few months ago. It's called "Secrets of the Deep". The second is "Raven's Reckoning" about two months ago. Those first two short stories both feature a female rogue named Braya. And the third short story, "The Henchman", was just published a couple days ago.

You can find all three of them at The specific issues are below:

Secrets of the Deep - Issue 20
Raven's Reckoning - Issue 23
The Henchman - Issue 26

These aren't Khoras short stories. In fact, the first two take place in the Forgotten Realms. The third was based on the new "Ghosts of Saltmarsh" adventure which Wizards of the Coast just published and that adventure can technically be put in any world. So they aren't Khoras related, but they are swords-and-sorcery fantasy.

Writing them was a lot of fun and yes, we are planning on writing more. I will be more timely with notification here in the forum about any future stories.

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