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Old 03-29-2018, 08:56 AM   #31
tbone
 
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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Why "alas?" DFRPG is not getting another *print run*. It's not "please don't send us ideas for new products."
Alas it is, for precisely that reason: no more print runs of the game means there's very unlikely* to be a printed How to Be a DFRPG GM in the game's future.

There could be a How to Be a DF GM, though, which would be useful for both games. Maybe print, maybe PDF only; either way, useful. (Actually, it sounds to me like a perfect addition to the line of numbered DF books.)

In any case, there's a lot of great advice and "under the hood" reveals showing up in the forum here – stuff that's totally unique to the genre/setting, not to GURPS in general. Here's hoping it'll show up in a How to... compendium, somehow and somewhere!

* "unlikely" <> "impossible". Who knows what could happen. Definitely not me!
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Old 03-29-2018, 10:21 AM   #32
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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[INDENT]A-List
Cleric – Essential!!! ...

Barbarian or Knight – You'll want at least half the party to fall into these professions. ...

Wizard ...

Thief ...
Another observation is that if you have a complete A-List AND follow the half barbs and knights rule, you need more than 6 PCs before you even consider the B-list professions. Who regularly games with 7+ PCs?

Personally, I'm ok with NPC heelbots and alternative healing, a thief OR a wizard (also possibly NPCs), and at least half "melee capable" (depends a lot on build) PCs but I suspect that I'm not as old school deadly as DF is meant to be.

This advice would have been a good thing to include in the Delvers to go supplement, along with a couple more Barbs and Kniggits.

This may be another reason more recent games have generally moved away from niche protection.
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Old 03-29-2018, 10:40 AM   #33
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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Another observation is that if you have a complete A-List AND follow the half barbs and knights rule, you need more than 6 PCs before you even consider the B-list professions. Who regularly games with 7+ PCs?
Interestingly, the expectation for a lot of old-school games seems to be a party size of 6-8 PCs (that's even before hirelings, followers, torch bearers, etc)... but 3-6 players (with frequent comments that 2 players is doable but tricky).

This also goes with systems where combat is rather abstract and is resolved quickly, and you might need to roll up half a dozen new PCs at once because of expected character death rates, so that's a thing.
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Old 03-29-2018, 10:50 AM   #34
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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I still think that it's at least a bit weird to design classes such that they'll be useless most of the time (or unless you pick one specific way to optimize them)
There really are many types of fun, and there really are players who derive most of their fun from taking a "useless" archetype and making it soar. This is yet another facet of the old-school dungeon-crawl genre that I wanted to emulate. I am ready to be slapped for it . . . it isn't everybody's cup of tea. ;)

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Oh yeah, and just to be clear - what quirky combat rule that only applies to scouts are you referring to, Kromm?
Pretty much everything under Heroic Archer, but quick-shooting bows in particular. In GURPS, it's an option for all. In the DFRPG, it's strictly a scout thing. But it involves a lot of rolls (Fast Draw, Bow at -3 or -1, and then Bow at -3 or -1 again . . . possibly twice per turn, with Extra Attack), not to mention the either/or add Accuracy/ignore Bulk effect. It's a little harder to internalize than "I hit it!"

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It's interesting that your A-List mirrors the original D&D foursome: cleric, fighter, magic-user, thief.

I suppose it's possible that those are four rather arbitrary roles, and the genre has shaped itself over the decades to keep them at the forefront.
I think that's half of it. You'd be hard-pressed to find a first-gen FRPG that didn't have at least the warrior-wizard-rogue triad, and the division of wizard into cleric and magic-user arrived fairly early on. This has had an effect on all FRPGs since, and I'm sure their plots and expectations have evolved to match – a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

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But I suspect, instead, that Gygax and friends perceived from the start that those four make up something special.
Also that.

The division has military precedent: On a special-ops team, the "weapons" guy (fighter) handles most of the heavy hitting; the "engineer" (thief) disarms and defuses, and occasionally sets, mines and booby traps; the "medic" (cleric) patches people up; and the "communications" specialist (magic-user) calls in air/artillery strikes, and handles high-tech sensors and other gizmos nobody else quite gets. The "command" role isn't associated with a fantasy archetype because most FRPG parties are nonhierarchical; if there's a leader, that person is chosen on the meta-game level. The "intelligence" role is filled by treasure maps, hired sages, and cloaked strangers in taverns in old-school games, but inasmuch as there are in-game abilities, it's shared among the thief (who spies), cleric (who can ask the gods for information), and magic-user (who can seek things with magic).

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And this is the reason that so many modern dungeon crawling games significantly upped the combat capabilities of the "Rogue." The DF thief is unarguably old school, but it is a part of old school that folks in general have moved away from.
The thief starts out with DX 15, and can right out of the gate add more DX for skill; Expert Backstabbing and Weapon Master (Knives) for damage; Basic Speed, Combat Reflexes, and Enhanced Dodge for defense; and Ambidexterity for "dual-wielding." If that's the build you want, go for it! With DX 15, even a few points from quirks can give good weapon skill. Between the advantage allowance and points from quirks, a starting backstabber could have Expert Backstabbing 5, Weapon Master (Knives), Main-Gauche-16, and a couple of fine, balanced long knives.

Another subtlety, often missed, is that those final 7 points can be spent "to improve any previous skill." This is an option that bards, clerics, druids, and wizards don't get; it positions thieves between casters and true warriors in terms of combat skill. If you want a warrior-thief, spend those 7 points to be really good at fighting. You could easily have even higher Main-Gauche in my previous example, or perhaps merge those points with quirk points and decide you're an archer with Bow-17, Fast-Draw (Arrow)-15, a composite bow, and a quiver full of fine, balanced arrows.

So I think one can go the route of a killer, if one wants. But that's just one option. I wanted to leave in the option of the pure, Bilbo-inspired burglar and similar combat-avoidant sneaks. The thief with enhanced Per and Basic Move, Night Vision, Cartography, Lip Reading, and Observation, and amped-up Stealth is a role some gamers like, too: "Yeah, so while you were resting I scouted the rest of the dungeon real quick. I found all the sentries and lip-read the passwords. Oh, here's the map. The fighting is up to you, but I set some traps here and here on the map . . . lure the bad guys there."
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Old 03-29-2018, 10:59 AM   #35
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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Another observation is that if you have a complete A-List AND follow the half barbs and knights rule, you need more than 6 PCs before you even consider the B-list professions. Who regularly games with 7+ PCs?
My average group size has been six, so I'd say barbarian-cleric-knight (×2)-thief-wizard is pretty typical. But in pure dungeon-crawl campaigns, I've gone as high has 13 players, because there's a lot less "social overhead": When you're all in a dungeon all the time, and most of the session is devoted to fights, there are no distracting mini-games.

And I won't lie . . . the time I had 13 players, the group had a cleric, two knights, two wizards, and a thief, and the other eight were a bard, a druid, a martial artist, and, like, four swashbucklers. It seems that as soon as the basic roles are filled, people go nuts playing swashbucklers.
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Old 03-29-2018, 03:42 PM   #36
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
It's interesting that your A-List mirrors the original D&D foursome: cleric, fighter, magic-user, thief.

I suppose it's possible that those are four rather arbitrary roles, and the genre has shaped itself over the decades to keep them at the forefront. But I suspect, instead, that Gygax and friends perceived from the start that those four make up something special.
I think that was a discovery in play, rather than a theoretical insight. The thief is not in original three-booklets D&D (November 1973), but appeared in the Greyhawk supplement (February 1975).

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Old 03-29-2018, 03:43 PM   #37
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
It's interesting that your A-List mirrors the original D&D foursome: cleric, fighter, magic-user, thief.

I suppose it's possible that those are four rather arbitrary roles, and the genre has shaped itself over the decades to keep them at the forefront. But I suspect, instead, that Gygax and friends perceived from the start that those four make up something special.
Since the thief class didn't make it into D&D until a few months after publication, and at the urging of someone who wasn't one of either the Gygax OR the Arneson crew, I doubt it. My understanding has always been that Gygax didn't like magic-users much as well.
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Old 03-29-2018, 03:46 PM   #38
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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For me, "starting magic-user" means "someone who will cast one spell and run away for the rest of the session and possibly adventure, because between low HP and weapons that rarely hit or do significant damage, there's no way to contribute to a fight."
The most interesting thing I've seen starting magic-users do is decide to use the brains they're required to have, and think about the overall situation, rather than just that round's actions. Having someone doing that and making sensible suggestions can make a remarkable difference to party effectiveness.
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Old 03-29-2018, 04:01 PM   #39
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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The most interesting thing I've seen starting magic-users do is decide to use the brains they're required to have, and think about the overall situation, rather than just that round's actions. Having someone doing that and making sensible suggestions can make a remarkable difference to party effectiveness.
It helps a lot to allow occasional penalized IQ rolls to function a little like weak clue-granting traits (in the DFRPG, things like Divine Guidance and Divine Omens). If the "free clue from the GM when you have no special powers" roll is IQ-6, like most defaults to IQ/Hard skills, then those with IQ 12 or less won't risk it due to the enhanced odds of critical failure (IQ 10, 11, or 12 means, respectively, a target of 4, 5, or 6 with critical failure on 14-18, 15-18, or 16-18). Whereas IQ 15 wizards will be rolling at 9, which isn't any worse than their odds of succeeding at a Dodge roll. :)
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Old 03-29-2018, 05:59 PM   #40
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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I think that's half of it. You'd be hard-pressed to find a first-gen FRPG that didn't have at least the warrior-wizard-rogue triad, and the division of wizard into cleric and magic-user arrived fairly early on.
Runequest springs to mind. I would dispute the primacy of the thief -- outside of D&D, 'being sneaky' was usually a side discipline of a class with another combat role, and even in AD&D, you didn't play thieves, you played MU/Thief or F/MU/Thief because there was no downside, thieves were the only class with no level cap for demihumans.

Tactically, the classic division is front-line fighter, artillery, support, skirmisher, non-combatant.
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