Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Of the Tabletop, and other, lesser varieties.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:03 am UTC

Really? A fighter with high wisdom who has training in Dungeoneering isn't that out there in 4e, and can contribute as well as you might want. (Note to get Dungeoneering training, that fighter will either be using a background, be an eladrin, or multiclass to a class who has that on the list -- none of which is going to mechanically cripple the fighter)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:12 am UTC

There might not exactly be individuality for characters in the mechanics of skills but I think that roleplay can make up for it. That roleplay can translate into psuedo mechanics by way of the DM. If you roleplay something really well then the DM should change DCs or give out bonuses where it matters. I mean you can't just roll a 20 on diplomacy while saying that you character insults them and expect that to somehow fly. Simultaneously if you roleplay your skills well I don't see why why the DM can't lower the DC or give you a few bonuses to the roll or whatever. With Aid Another I don't think the other members 'having something to do' are problems.

If the DM knows that your character is really into certain thing X then it would be weird if he didn't lower DCs or give out roll bonuses to that character when that particular subject comes up to make the mechanics more suited to the roleplay.

These type of things is... kind of the DM's role isn't it?

Plus it's fun to use your knowledge of the situation to specifically do or say things that would give you a benefit past just your generic skill. An intimidate is all the more intimidating if you invoke a recent rumor about a crazed killer that has been in the area. A bluff more effective if you know the person is worried about that type of thing. Diplomacy is much more effective if you can signal that you know how dire their situation is. You get the idea.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Xanthir » Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:32 am UTC

Yes, the dragon at the end of the DMG starter adventure is meant to be a difficult challenge, capable of either being defeated or TPKing. It depends somewhat on party composition and leftover powers, and somewhat on luck (as always). My players killed it with very little to spare (two of them were unconscious, one of which had already failed two revive checks).
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Belial » Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:26 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Sure, in battle they have different ways of killing things, but outside of it? All fighters are equally as intimidating as others. All rogues are equally sneaky. All wizards are equally bookwormy. Just seems to strip away out of combat individuality.


That's kindof what I meant though. That individuality, while it was technically possible in 3.x, was in all practicality already gone. A skill basically didn't ever matter if you didn't put full ranks into it, or close to, so your totals in any given skill basically amounted to: what are my non-rank bonuses, what is my rank-cap, and do I actually have any (and therefore the maximum possible) ranks in this skill?

As I see it, the current system is just slightly more honest about that, and doesn't make you fiddle with a choice that isn't [i]really[i] a choice. Instead they remove the totally unnecessary granularity and just give you the choice of which skills to train or not train. Then your non-rank bonuses (magic items, attributes, feats) take over from there.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby El Spark » Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:48 pm UTC

I remember that fight with the L3 dragon at the end of the starter game. My crew had five L1 characters, and it was a fight and a half, but that was mostly because we did things like clump up for convenient breath-weaponing and the like. Once we got our act together, it went smoothly. Tough, but smooth.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby voicedotter » Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:34 pm UTC

When we had the level 3 dragon 3 of our party were nearly dead with the Ranger and Mage hitting it from afar.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Vaniver » Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:56 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Maybe it's just me and the way I tend to recall characters and so on.. I don't really remember the few "standard" characters I've run, but Fighters with an interest in Art History tend to stick out as being more memorable and more fun to play. Yeah, you can just say that your Fighter is down with art history and play a character who backs it up a lot, but without some kind of mechanical backing to it, it always feels to me like a regression of sorts - like a backslide to playing Make Believe and just pulling shit out of your ass when you think of it.
The Background mechanic is a step in the right direction for this- each background will have one or two available skills, and you get to pick one that either becomes trainable or you get a +2 bonus to it. A predictable downside is that instead of picking from all backgrounds, you pretty much pick a skill and then pick from the backgrounds that support that skill.

When it comes to making characters distinctive, though, it seems to me that personality, background, and habits are the most effective, and there's no reason to make that compete with mechanics. That my character is the one that cooks the meals every time we make camp shouldn't require me to spend precious skill points on "Profession: Cook," or even worse a proficiency. (I don't have access to my 2nd edition books anymore, but I seem to remember cooking ability was one of the proficiencies you could take, meaning that it was essentially a feat.) Just have your players pick a hobby.

Which actually calls to mind something else- the Dragonmark feats from Eberron. Those are interesting because they offer some benefit (though they're significantly better in 4th than I recall them being in 3.X) and they have social ramifications- but you can't just drop those into every campaign setting.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby clockworkmonk » Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:20 pm UTC

I'm considering running a game similar to Council of Wyrms. Not gonna be using and DND ruleset, as I don't feel they are the right system for the game I wish to play, but the setting is something I am lacking. I could use some help deciding what kind of dragons and how they should behave to maximize fun for all involved (for a sliding definition of fun).

So, lets talk about dragons!
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Coin » Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:47 pm UTC

I think it would be interesting to have a dragon with learning dissabilities, as a response to the norm of cunning dragons.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Goldstein » Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:37 pm UTC

I designed a dragon in a game I DMed for a bit, but never got to use him. He was a copper dragon and was going to be bard-esque, with a greater fancy for artwork and unique things than raw gold. Being a powerful creature with a wealth of knowledge and connections, I was going to have him make creative demands of the party, like telling the group's dwarven fighter to have painted something for him by the next time they meet. He'd be angry if the fighter didn't comply, but would be gleefully happy with any old crap as long as the fighter really did paint it. Plus, y'know, pranks. Goading the party into looting his pile o' dragon loot while he was secretly observing them. I guess he was the 'eccentric billionaire' of dragons.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby The Utilitarian » Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:41 am UTC

Another session, another entry in my "Why I love Shadowrun" log.

First a quick note about Karma, (Edge in later vesions) essentially a (very) limited resouce given to players to use in "oh shit" moments. Use a point of your karma can let you re-roll or negate a critical failure. (3.5 eberron had a similar system in Action Points.) Having a system like this in place allows players to feel like they can take risks. As a GM it means you can make the action exciting without having to worry about a bad turn geeking your players on a regular basis. The important thing about a system like this is that it needs to be scarce. Karma resets per adventure, and action points reset when you level.

If the resource is scarce enough, you're thankful when you have it, and every time you use it you have to consider "will I need this more in the future?" Sure you can spend your karma point the first time someone shoots you to get a better chance of negating the damage... but what if someone shoots you with a BIGGER gun later? You need to be in control of when you use those points, but not in control of when you get more.

This is why the action point system of 4th edition D&D fails to fill the same roll. These action points reset when you rest, just like the rest of your daily abilities. In this way they end up being used less as an "oh shit" button and more as a tactical consideration, for something as simple as closing ground on an opponent or taking a second attack.

ok, that ended up being less quick than I thought, maybe I'll leave it at that.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:38 pm UTC

Warhammer 40k: Dark Heresy (a game I have not played enough of, that's for sure) has the Fate Point system, which has some interesting effects. You can spend a fate point (which reset per adventure) to get a reroll, a bonus, some other things, etc. You can also burn a fate point, which reduces your total number of available fate points by one. Burning a fate point makes your character survive whatever just happened, period. It's a nice system, in my opinion.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Menacing Spike » Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:57 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:You recall Gno Interference's rant on Rogues, yes?

For everyone else, the gist of it was that Rogues in 3.X were screwed over in their skill choices as, while, say.. the Monk could basically take whatever skills they wanted from their list and still contribute their full share, unless the Rogue dumped their skills into the Rogue arts (Stealth, Lockpicking, Trapfinding, Trapspringing, etc) they could not contribute their full share, as the expectation of the rest of the party would be that the Rogue is taking these tasks.


The rogue could also max UMD and carry around a wand of knock, a wand of invisibility, a wand of cure light wounds... and try to be useful and polyvalent like a real character!

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Vaniver » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:59 pm UTC

Another variant on that that I've heard of is Divine Intervention, where you have an unknown number of points determined randomly by the GM at the start of the game. Every time you use one, if you had one you get a reroll / automatically succeed / whatever. If you try to use one and you've run out, Bad Things happen.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby EmptySet » Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:48 am UTC

The Utilitarian wrote:This is why the action point system of 4th edition D&D fails to fill the same roll. These action points reset when you rest, just like the rest of your daily abilities. In this way they end up being used less as an "oh shit" button and more as a tactical consideration, for something as simple as closing ground on an opponent or taking a second attack.


I think that's how they're intended to be used. I mean, all the paragon paths have a special ability which gives you a bonus for using them that way.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby The Utilitarian » Mon Jul 25, 2011 6:21 am UTC

EmptySet wrote:
The Utilitarian wrote:This is why the action point system of 4th edition D&D fails to fill the same roll. These action points reset when you rest, just like the rest of your daily abilities. In this way they end up being used less as an "oh shit" button and more as a tactical consideration, for something as simple as closing ground on an opponent or taking a second attack.


I think that's how they're intended to be used. I mean, all the paragon paths have a special ability which gives you a bonus for using them that way.

Indeed, I'm just arguing that this isn't a good system. That they called them Action Points is a pretty clear indication that they were trying to capture some of what everyone liked about Eberron's 3.5 action point system, but they've really failed.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:33 am UTC

I actually don't like those fate systems mostly because it seems like some sort of mechanical version of plot armor whereas 4th Edition action points are more like the natural will of the character to survive (or get revenge, or slay filthy undead, whatever) surfacing when it's needed. I think of it as an addrenaline rush or something.

If you really want the PCs to have plot armor then... you're the DM, just give them plot armor. I don't see a reason to have a mechanical version of that. And if you want plot armor that runs out after a certain amount of strikes then you can secretly do that too.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rrwoods » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:12 pm UTC

So I'm currently in a game running a system I like (D&D 3.5) playing a character I like (Hengeyokai Fighter/Warshaper) run by a DM I like and with players I like (mostly... one of them has recently taken to falling asleep half-way through a session).

But it seems like we never get to actually run a game anymore. We've played ~5 hours in the last three months and the next available time to run this game is in another month.

I'm looking for another group to really get my fix in. I have a couple character ideas already so I'm fairly able to dive right in. Any suggestions on where to start looking to find groups? I'm not looking for something weekly or even bi-weekly as I don't think I could commit to that, but something monthly would be awesome. I'm very apprehensive about playing online (on a site like mythweavers).
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby pseudoidiot » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:27 pm UTC

Are there any gaming stores in your area? Every gaming store I've ever been in has a bulletin board of some sort and people use it to advertise games, whether they're wanting to get in one or if they're looking for players.

If not that, just chat up the store owner/employees especially if the store has space for people to play games. They might know of some games that are open to new players.

Also a lot of gaming-related sites (rpg.net for instance) have a section for people trying to get games together.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:48 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:If you really want the PCs to have plot armor then... you're the DM, just give them plot armor. I don't see a reason to have a mechanical version of that. And if you want plot armor that runs out after a certain amount of strikes then you can secretly do that too.

I suppose the issue I see with that is - as a DM and as a player - you don't want the DM pulling punches as once you figure it out, you pretty much know that you can take anything down, ever, with hardly any planning and foresight and it all pretty soon becomes a boring grind. And as a DM you're constantly trying to make things dangerous but not too dangerous as you then have to rein things in and try to be subtle about it and it becomes a goofy balancing act that isn't really fun for you either.

By giving the players a couple of "Get Out of Jail Free" cards, and adding one more at every level but when they're gone, they're gone, you keep the plot armor but completely reverse who controls it - it's no longer the DM, it's now the Players. Whenever something doesn't go their way, they're free to cash in their armor but at the expense of it now being gone forever blah blah blah you know how it works.

But that's why I like it - because it changes the dynamic of the plot armor. Turns it from a mulligan or whatever the DM gives you "Alright, just this time. Next time I may not be so forgiving" into a tangible asset of yours, but one that is irreplaceable. Hit points come back, stat damage can be fixed, but OhShit Points are gone forever.

It's plot armor, but one that doesn't rely on the moods of anyone involved.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby The Utilitarian » Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:22 pm UTC

^ This

And in a system like Shadowrun where EVERY time an enemy fires a gun at your character there's a half-decent chance of you becoming seriously injured or dead, two or three karma points (which are still no guarantee of safety, just a second chance) by no means equals plot armor.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby rrwoods » Mon Jul 25, 2011 6:14 pm UTC

pseudoidiot wrote:Are there any gaming stores in your area? Every gaming store I've ever been in has a bulletin board of some sort and people use it to advertise games, whether they're wanting to get in one or if they're looking for players.

If not that, just chat up the store owner/employees especially if the store has space for people to play games. They might know of some games that are open to new players.

Also a lot of gaming-related sites (rpg.net for instance) have a section for people trying to get games together.

I will try out both of these avenues, thanks :-) I did poke around on dnd.meetup.com as well, but everything seems really specific (including the someone surprising and counter-stereotypical "Christian Dungeons and Dragons" group near me) or about games other than D&D. I will try rpg.net and similar sites as well.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby clockworkmonk » Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:00 pm UTC

Does anyone else, when running a game, change your story when a player has a better idea?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby pseudoidiot » Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:03 pm UTC

I purposely leave holes in a lot of my plans when I run a game, or at the most have only very vague notions. Then I see what the players are really interested in and follow their cue.

I'll note that I'm a big fan of games with player authorship, both as a player and a GM.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby clockworkmonk » Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:20 pm UTC

Thats how I prefer things as well. Recently I've been helping my gf with how to gm a game, and am doing my best to help her find a style she is comfortable. Mostly I help with prep and am never present for the games she runs.

I'm just not sure I'm the best to be helping as in my regular group, I'm the one they turn to for a game on the fly, as I don't really have the attention span to run a longer game.

edit: Entirely unrelated, I got a pound o dice! I am way more excited about it than I should be.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby El Spark » Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:01 pm UTC

My players are fiercely intelligent and absolutely DELIGHT in going in unexpected directions. They don't do it out of meanness or even trolling, but just because something catches their attention and they follow it. It's a lot like trying to distract a concussed kitten.

So my strategy is this: present the players with an interesting situation and then sit back to see what the hell they do with it. It's the only way to keep from weeping in frustration when they chase a butterfly over a cliff for the nth time.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Levi » Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:34 pm UTC

Just posting to say that Invisibility and Disguise Self are way OP.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby clockworkmonk » Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:38 pm UTC

how, exactly, are they overpowered?
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Levi » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:52 pm UTC

Mainly for roleplaying purposes, although you do have to get lucky with the dice. Disguise Self can get you in to a lot of places. They do also give the wizard quite a bit of functionality that would be better suited for rogues.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:12 pm UTC

You don't need Disguise Self when you put all your points in Bluff and Diplomacy and start convincing the universe that it's wrong about the natural order of things.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Levi » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:21 pm UTC

Unfortunately I was not expecting to go the direction I did in the game, so most of my points are in less relevant skills.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby clockworkmonk » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:23 pm UTC

debating balance of mechanics for dungeons and dragons is rarely fruitful.

The reason is simple. The classes are not balanced. A Wizard (or any prepared spellcaster) can duplicate just about any other party role with enough preparation. Mechanically, a fighter of any level cannot compete in combat with a 6th level wizard because of Fly. Knock and invisibility are spells that can do most of what a rogue is needed for in a dungeon crawl. Wizards are simply more powerful than the non caster classes.

The solution isn't to try to balance the classes, its to recognize this and run your games accordingly, or discuss the roles in the group.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Levi » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:34 pm UTC

Do you mean levitate? I'm going to have to pick that one up.

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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby clockworkmonk » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:39 pm UTC

wait, what edition are we talking? if its 3rd/3.5(what I've been assuming) I mean fly.
If you are playing 4th, disregard everything I said.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby hendusoone » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:04 pm UTC

The thing with wizards (3.5), though, is they can only do the magic stuff a rather limited number of times per day. A rogue has no such limit, other than the amount of time in a day.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby clockworkmonk » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:10 pm UTC

Not true. see scrolls.

edit: elaboration. Scrolls are cheap, resource-wise, and allow a wizard to prepare spells well in advance for several situations and negligible experience cost, especially due to the different xp gains when characters are different levels in the party.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:33 pm UTC

For most of the time you play a Wizard, you're limited to One Full Attack Action/One Standard and One Move Action. Yeah, there's Time Stop, but that is a level 9 spell.....

Point being that while a Wizard can replicate pretty much any other class with the right assortment of spells, the wizard gets one action a round, same as everyone else. But even using scrolls, it's not a bottomless well of spellcasting.

All of this is, of course, assuming the Wizard's been able to fill the spellbook relatively easily. Not all DMs have Scribing Services where you can pay someone a fee to copy a spell. Hell, even that doesn't guarantee that the spell's going to be copied successfully anyway, so there's also that.

Wizards are toolboxes, and that toolbox can be used to do almost anything, that is true. The issue is that you start the game with a nearly empty toolbox and while you do get more tools automagically while leveling up, you won't have a full set if that's your only source. And until you have the right combinations of spells, you can't emulate a particular class.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby Yakk » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:37 pm UTC

And fighters are good... but not all DMs have weapon stores where they can buy swords and armor, let alone magical equipment.

And the lack of actions for a wizard per round meaning they have to rely on others isn't a sign that the wizard isn't strong -- it is just an argument for more wizards.

(Anti-magic fields -- "I'm sorry, wizards don't work here" -- are similar to "I'm sorry, swords don't work here".)
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:47 pm UTC

Sure, but the fighter can be about as effective with a big stick as they can with a shiny sword. Wizards, not so much. Clubs, Quarterstaffs and Slings - all weapons with no cost in 3.X, all weapons that can be made by pretty much whatever's around you, all weapons a fighter can use. Yeah, they're a die damage lower (or more) than equivalent weapons (The Club and Quarterstaff's 1d6 compared to the Longsword and two-bladed sword's 1d8s, or the greatsword's 2d6) but after a few levels most of the damage isn't from the die anyway. Nevermind that, once they kill the orc with the falchion.. they now have a falchion. Wizard kills the orc wizard, gets their spellbook and... has to make a couple of skill checks to decipher the spells and copy them over.

But yeah, a fighter's never going to replace a wizard. A sorcerer, bard or a rogue are the only ones who could, and to do so would require extensive investment in magical items. A wizard (with a respectable spellbook) can damn near replace any other class. About the only thing they can't do well is cast healing magic, and that's simply because Limited Wish is overkill for a Cure Moderate Wounds.
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Re: Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop RPGs)

Postby El Spark » Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:37 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Wizard kills the orc wizard, gets their spellbook and... has to make a couple of skill checks to decipher the spells and copy them over.


...over the course of quite a bit of time, too, iirc. Even if it only took five minutes, I think that's something like 50 combat rounds, so the fight's been over for some time.

You can also have the unparalleled joy of an enemy fighter taking your staff away and beating you to death with it (totally happened, to the eternal delight of the others who were in the game with my wizard.) That's not something that works the other way.
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