Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Culture of Pluses

I'm an avowed follower of D&D blogs, particularly old-school ones, and there were a couple things on the Gamerdome blog (link disabled) that struck me.

One was a post on the Sphinx in 4e, and how it was metagamey rather than relying on cleverness, and how you could turn it to a more narrative device like the original source material. Another was a post about how D&D has turned into a "culture of pluses," squeezing every last bonus out of the books to make your characters more efficient. As Propogandroid says in the Sphinx post: "What happened to the days when players were supposed to be clever instead of just relying on dice and character sheets to do everything for them?"

Which has been my problem from the start. The page after page of rule after rule in 3E makes the unified d20 mechanic something of a joke. It's like it was written for 10-year-olds who had never run a game before, by making a rule on page 456, paragraph 3, subsection 7 that farting while moving gives a +.001" to movement. What was even worse was the 3300+ Feats that cropped up, plus the insane amount of Prestige Classes, making it, well, not so prestigious to be in one. Somehow, real roleplaying and storytelling got tossed to the side of the road to hitch a ride on another game.

The Gamerdome's author has done away with the unified mechanic to cut down on the culture of pluses. I propose something a little different. Whether it is more or less radical than Propangandroid's solution remains to be seen.

In Daniel Bayn's excellent Wushu, the players describe what's supposed to happen, then they roll to advance the scene to its end. They have a certain number of successes needed within a certain time limit to end the scene well. From the core rules: "everything happens exactly as the players describe it, when they describe it...The player is within rights to describe never "failing", or to never describe "succeeding", but regardless their character can still advance a scene towards it’s end."

In our re-tooling of the D20 mechanic, you describe your action as well as whether you achieve your goal or not. The bonus you get to your action is based on how well you describe your action. The player's description can be (and often is) more than one sentence. Each cool thing that happens could give you +1:

"The character eases her blade from her scabbard (+1), sunlight glinting from it as it clears the sheathe (+2). She drops easily into attack stance (+3) and prepares to skewer the sweating soldier (+4)."

Then you roll a d20 and add your +4 to it, or however much you gained from describing your action. You could even put a hard limit on it, like level +3 or something.

Handling failure could be more than simply "you missed." It could be something where the character's foot slips while dropping into attack stance, it could also be a gradual thing like damage being reduced, for example, "You missed by 2 so that's -2 to damage."

In my opinion, way better than Feats and Prestige Classes. You use your imagination while fighting, rather than calculating AoO. I've got a way to handle Feats and Prestige Classes,too, but more on that later.

Unfortunately, since I've written this it appears that Gamerdome has been hit with a Trojan, and it's not safe to go there. My avast antivirus gives me all kinds of grief when I try. I wouldn't suggest going there for a bit.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Obama, the scapegoat

The Obama bashing has begun. One year after Barack Obama took the oath of office, the conservatives now are blaming Obama for the problems of his predecessor, claiming that he can no longer pass it off onto Bush. Obama has been made the villain for the mistakes of the Bush administration. But let's put this to the test:
  • They turned a budget surplus into a deficit.
  • They took us to war on false pretenses, manufacturing a link to terrorism that even the common man should have been able to see through. I did.
  • They spent money they didn't have to fight this war, instead of spending it for the general welfare of the people.
  • They screwed over the troops, many of whom had to buy body armor.
  • They destroyed Afghanistan and then sent troops to die there.
  • They ignored and denigrated the Constitution.
  • They presided over the weakest economy in decades.
  • They had the worst unemployment rate in decades.
  • The stock market was more screwed up than it had been in decades.
This is just a partial list of the many issues. A list of 99 problems is to be had here: To be fair, Obama has had his problems with his administration, too.
  • He didn't shut down Gitmo
  • He defended the warrentless wiretapping program
  • He didn't get us out of Iraq
  • He didn't get us out of Afghanistan
  • He didn't get us any decent healthcare, and instead of cutting out the insurance companies he cut deals with them.
  • In refusing to pull the same crap as Republicans, he makes himself look weak. Of course, an attempt at a show of power (like a suggestion to shut down Fox News) gets him attacked by conservative blowhards.
But, truly, what the conservatives are attacking him for is ridiculous. When you screw up the economy this bad it's time to take some responsibility for it instead of blaming someone else. And yes, I'm talking to you Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, George Bush. All of you helped to fuck up America. Time to take the rap for it and shut the fuck up.

Because I won't.

And I know better than the rest of those morons, and have facts to back it up, not useless conjecture and mindless rhetoric.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Limbaugh & Robertson at odds with Haitian Suffering

Pat Robertson blames Haitians for their earthquake, by saying they had "made a deal with the devil" to free their country from France. WTF? Mr. *koff koff!* er...Reverend Robertson, we know you spewed all sorts of senile and evil rhetoric during 9/11 and you were silenced. But again? When will someone yank you off the air, so you can expire in peace and no one need listen to you anymore? You bastard.

Rush Limbaugh also has taken issue with Haitians, blaming communism for their ills and somehow linking President Obama with racist leanings and policital opportunism there.

Why is it that conservatives seem to be the most assinine loudmouths of this or any other century? Why do they seem to be at the center of the most heinous stupidity ever committed in this country? I think they should require an IQ test in current events and history to broadcast. Then, if you fail, you're off the air, or are never allowed in the first place. I'm willing to place bets that Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Coulter, and other conservative commentators would fail such a test. I'm not saying anyone else would do much better, but at least the airwaves would be quieter.