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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.

Announcements and News / Avisarr Campaign Notes and Session Summaries
« Last post by David Roomes on June 16, 2019, 06:48:37 PM »
This is just a heads up.

Nathan Sherman, a friend of mine and former member of my gaming group (who is now living in California) is planning on running the Avisarr campaign on his current gaming group. As a favor to him, I'm going to remove the Avisarr notes and session summaries from the website. That way he can show the web site to his players, but there will be no "spoiler" information about the Avisarr campaign on there. I'll be removing that information later this week.

If anyone else out there is currently running the Avisarr campaign or reading the summaries or otherwise wants access to that material, just email me at the Contact link above. I will be happy to share the Avisarr campaign and all related materials with anyone who wants it (except for Nathan's players, of course -  ;) ).

I will re-upload the Avisarr campaign and session summary information back to the website at a later date, to be determined.

Email me with any questions or concerns. Or just to say hi, what the hell. :)

General Discussion and Questions / Re: Alliance mage Lords
« Last post by Delbareth on January 03, 2019, 03:32:13 PM »
In fact, even with Karrym and Drellis, I very often say "the sun" and never "the suns" or "the stars". So There won't be any problem for that I guess.

- A real problem could have been the lack of Drellis effect, but the scene takes place the first week of July during a would-be balanced phase.
- I already though about changing names of countries or languages ("-PC : Hey DM, you didn't told us the name of the empire we live in ! - DM : Uhhhh...).
- They could ask me in which year they live, but last time I played in Carrikos around 2500 C.C they didn't ask... Anyway, I will say their country have set its own calendar, and they live in the 470th year.
Please, tell me what else could be a clue for you to discover the truth.

The main issue of this adventure idea is that these events are very cool to describe, but not necessarily interesting to play. It's a kind of survival adventure, not at all what I want. I want to show the Assembly Hall, but there is nothing some PCs can do there. Mage-lords are extremely powerful and can solve every problem without help. So I imagined two things :
- a Traxx commando attack, shielded with the most potent traxxian anti-magic. A situation where quickly-reacting warriors can have a role, before mage-lords can understand and adapt to the situation (and kill the commado).
- a false adventure: to make it simple, their mage-lord master thinks there is a treator among the other mage-lords, who plots to overcome his own position. In fact it's only the pre-Sundering disturbances which destroy some of their cosmology spells. PCs are sent in the Assembly Hall to find the treator (they have clues he can be there at this very moment).
When they come back in Tosche, and when the Sundering happens, my goal is to make them think as long as possible it's "only" this treator assaulting their master mansion. Tower explosion, OK. First earthquake, OK because they don't know it is a continent-wide earthquake. Burning light, why not. End of magic, OK he can be very strong in metamagic. Dust clouds and storms, easy. 15 minutes long meteor shower, uuh ?. As the time goes on, it will appear more and more unlikely a single mage-lord (or even few of them) could or will destroy an entire region just for them. Few days later, after numerous replica, and a completely ruined city, a piece of cloudless sky will reveal the truth: two distinct stars in a giant shell of ejected gas. Angry mob will then assault the mage-lord mansion to kill him.

This is a quite psychologic adventure. Players will be gradually stripped from their power (all the magical weapons and tools which behave eratically), from their mission (this treator issue was nothing but thin air), from their confort (everything is destroyed around them, lot of dead friends/collegues) and finally from their loyalty or their live (without magic and greatly overnumbered, their only chance is to abandon their master ; it will be an individual decision and I don't know who (if any) will choose to do that).

I want them to FEEL how the sundering destroyed everything of the former world.
General Discussion and Questions / Re: Alliance mage Lords
« Last post by Drul Morbok on January 03, 2019, 07:08:23 AM »
Yeah, great campaign idea, also looking forward to any reports how it went.

Just out of interest: Your players are aware of the fact that the adventure predates the sundering...?
From how I understand it, they know enough that this would be pretty obvious from looking at the sky...

Edit: Sorry, I failed to read that you want your players to assume to live in the "present", i.e. the end of the timeline.
And while I'm aware of the fact that in a pen&paper game, players don't "look at the sky" as naturally as in the real world (or in a modern video game), I don't think it's easy to be consistent about sky-related wordings...
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