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Old 03-27-2018, 12:54 AM   #11
evileeyore
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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Originally Posted by Myrion View Post
Oh and I noticed these things too and... was less than impressed.
I'm actually impressed that the adventure lines up so firmly with my memories of OS gaming (back in the early 80's, it was a heady time).

I have grown to hate old school gaming... buuuuut that's more an issue I have than the adventure has.
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Old 03-27-2018, 01:22 AM   #12
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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Well, who with? The only one who could reliably damage it was the barbarian. Sure, the thief snuck up behind it, but they had serious trouble getting through DR - and then the peshkali turns around and knocks them out in one attack.
Well that's one way to get him to turn his back on the barbarian...

and maybe even lead to a replacement for the thief... ;->
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Old 03-27-2018, 04:36 AM   #13
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

True, that did get the barbarian one good shot at the Peshkali :)

The thief was just knocked out, though, around -1HP, iirc.
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Old 03-27-2018, 05:55 AM   #14
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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I thought that one of the genre conventions that the DFRPG would uphold was that everyone's a fighter.
That's not a genre convention that I'm really familiar with, particularly with starting characters.
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Old 03-27-2018, 07:07 AM   #15
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

Let me rephrase it to "everyone is useful in a fight".

That's been the case since D&D 3rd, which is as far back as my experience goes - that is not very far, I'm aware^^

At low levels, where no one has a lot of special abilities, everyone can contribute by using an appropriate weapon, and bows or crossbows aren't any worse than melee weapons. Once you get to higher levels, things start to diverge, but in my experience, combat skills are still very much everyone's focus.

Sure, Rogues do better out of combat than others, Bards are more charming than most, but everyone can fight. One can quibble about linear fighters and quadratic wizards - but still.

If that's not a genre convention, but just how D&D handles things then I'm sorry I got it wrong, but maintain that in a dungeon bash game every class should be able to contribute to a fight and that not providing for that expectation is a trap that feels bad.

Does that fit better, Bruno?
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Old 03-27-2018, 08:58 AM   #16
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

4 suboptimal characters need help. That's spelled out in the adventure itself. I ran it with three optimal characters, and I gave them a boost in points to start because I knew the peshkali was going to eat their lunch otherwise, and I'd always rather front-load my cheating.

When it seemed like my players might not figure out the Peshkali's secret because they were considering not bringing a cleric. I considered adding even more armor to the rest of her, so they'd have a big hint.

We found it to be one of the most satisfying nights of GURPS in a long time. But yeah, like all adventures it requires some planning and adjustment for the party you bring.
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Old 03-27-2018, 09:18 AM   #17
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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That's not a genre convention that I'm really familiar with, particularly with starting characters.
Me, neither.

I am not just a game designer but a 50-year-old game designer. My gaming life began in 1979, when AD&D First Edition was still being released (the Dungeon Master's Guide was published that year). 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." Somewhere in there I played a lot of Rogue-like games, in which warrior roles are played straight but non-warrior roles are almost always start scummed. So yeah, I do actually think of non-warriors as needing warriors to survive!

When I designed I Smell a Rat, I had "a well-rounded party of six 250-point adventurers" in mind, which is why I wrote Advice: Scaling Encounters (p. 3). I'd consider a party of four including a bard and a thief to be half-strength. A "typical" group would be something like a high-damage barbarian meat shield, a warrior-healer cleric with decent arms and armor, a heavily armored holy warrior or knight, the inevitable skirmisher with absurd Move and active defenses (a scout arrow machine gun, or a martial artist or swashbuckler harasser), a "thief" who's more of a backstabbing and crossbow-shooting assassin, and a wizard with a dozen ways to blow people up and set them on fire.

In the GenCon runs I did, that's pretty much what people opted for without much encouragement from me.
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Old 03-27-2018, 12:30 PM   #18
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

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Originally Posted by Myrion View Post
Let me rephrase it to "everyone is useful in a fight".
That is not an Old School convention. That is very much the New School.... and it's not even really a 3e D&D thing (see low level Wizards) but was fully embraced by 4e and on.


Old School (see Kromm's "I'm older than dirt and rolled bones with dinosaurs now get off my lawn kid!" post above) was all about absurd dungeons, bizarrely scaled challenges, abusive traps, sudden death, fabulous treasures, and rolling 3d6 in order for your next character 16 minutes into the first game (exaggeration for effect).

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At low levels, where no one has a lot of special abilities, everyone can contribute by using an appropriate weapon, and bows or crossbows aren't any worse than melee weapons. Once you get to higher levels, things start to diverge, but in my experience, combat skills are still very much everyone's focus.
Switching in Rogue (from Dungeon Fantasy Denizens 2 - Swashbucklers) for Thief does this.

In fact Im'a stealing that idea from Stripe for my next DFRPG game.

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If that's not a genre convention, but just how D&D handles things then I'm sorry I got it wrong, but maintain that in a dungeon bash game every class should be able to contribute to a fight and that not providing for that expectation is a trap that feels bad.
That's been a bone of contention about the Thief Profession in DF for over a decade, everyone else* can easily be 'fight competent' without much thought at chargen, but a Thief Player has to be GURPS savvy and work harder to pull 'their weight in combat'.



* Okay, it's easy to go amiss with Wizard and Martial Artist. Absurdly easy... but... if one is importing over from D&D 3e (or older) then those two 'classes' are already known worries for those Players.
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Old 03-27-2018, 11:56 PM   #19
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

I read Advice: Scaling Encounters, but coming at it with my New School assumptions, it didn't read like hard requirements, without which you'll simply fail horribly. It's a bunch of suggestions, which I tried to follow, but I didn't want to force a group of newbies to play characters they didn't want (because that'd be a great intro to RPGs) nor force them to hire followers and care for those too. So I tried to compensate a little, and ended up having to do so on the fly, more than I expected.

Of course, that's at least in part on me. I have trouble reading monsters and judging how much of a challenge they'll be, always have. I trusted the adventure to be written more forgivingly and those were bad assumptions, it turns out.

I also noticed that I misread the example of a "half-delver", as it says unarmored not unarmed. Wouldn't have made much of a difference.

I feel like your experiences at GenCon are not a good match to most other situations, though, Kromm. You played with high-level kickstarter backers, who most likely all had good system mastery in GURPS, possibly DF, and years of experience with RPGs in general. That such a group goes for an optimal setup with little prodding is not exactly surprising. Plus, they will likely have had the same assumptions as you.

Evileeyore, I feel that D&D 3e was at least partly there already, but that's a discussion for another time :) You may be exaggerating, but not by much, I suspect ;) I'll look into subbing in the Rogue, and make sure that my most experienced player will take the wizard.
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Old 03-28-2018, 12:30 AM   #20
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Default Re: [Spoilers] Experience running ISAR and some concerns

Any role playing game that relies on niche characters does just that... it relies on niche characters.

If you don’t fill the niches you’re going to have problems.

Reading the posts it seems that the problems aren’t with the adventure or the game.

Frankly, nobody really knew the game including the guy running the show.

Quote:
Let me rephrase it to "everyone is useful in a fight"
Yeah. No.

Like Kromm I’m a 47 year old RPG player. Bought the D&D Basic boxed set in 1980.

A low level wizard being more than one and done didn’t come along for a long time.

You took an adventure designed for a balanced 6 character party and ran it with 4 unbalanced, suboptimal characters played by newbs...

What did you THINK was going to happen?

I mean, did you expect that any possible combination and number of characters could be successful?

Last edited by tanksoldier; 03-28-2018 at 12:44 AM.
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