What do you think are the most damaging ideas in the hobby?

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Ralph Dula

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He had a fire spell and tried to use it to melt the ice, but was told he couldn't because the way the Power was written meant it could only be used to target a creature.

Two years back a friend was playing a Starfinder Society adventure, and found a combat application of a non-combat ability in the context of the adventure. What followed was a half-hour argument about whether it should be allowed or not.

He freely admitted he woukd have just let it drop instantly if the GM had just said “no,” but apparently the woman flipped out at outside-the-box thinking, and acted like my friend had been strangling puppies rather than arguing over if RAW was allowed.
 

under_score

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It may sound weird to hear someone say this, but after all of the years it’s been out I am just now reading up on C&C and AA, and have developed a high fondness for their rules sets. I am catching all the TLG books I can for those series, and boxing away all my 5E stuff.
C&C pretty much got me back into gaming after nearly 10 years away, so I have a lot of appreciation for it.
Have you seen the new tribute covers they're releasing soon? The monster manual one is great:
1631105947686.png
 

AsenRG

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To get this thread back on topic (and avoid heated politics BS), there are two trends that I really hate in RPGs.

1. "You must have a rule for absolutely everything." I used to really like this but exposure to the OSR has increasingly convinced me of what a fool's errand that is. It leads to lots of contradictions, system rigidity and "there's no rule for that, so you can't do that." I am now much more of a fan of the OSR-school "Rulings over Rules" interpretation. Granted most RPG products will say you can change things if you don't like them, but you may well attempt to actually do that you may find the rules falling to pieces around you.

2. An obsession with excessive character "customization." Basically people now want tons and tons and tons of options for character creation but most of them tend to result in top-heavy characters loaded down with redundant abilities. Also it leads to some pretty silly situations where clever thinking on the part of players runs up against "you don't have the right feat, so you can't perform this relatively basic or logical action."

The absolute nadir of both trends was 3rd and 4th edition DnD. There's a particularly infamous incident during a livestream game where a player found a door frozen shut by ice. He had a fire spell and tried to use it to melt the ice, but was told he couldn't because the way the Power was written meant it could only be used to target a creature.

A knock on effect of both trends is something I have complained about previously "House of Cards Game Design." In a few words, it's where the rules are so interlinked that they actively resist tweaking and will fall apart if you change a single variable. 3.5 was notoriously bad and the OGL years really strangled creativity for this reason.

It boggles my mind how many people will go complete Buttermilk Bob the instant I bring this up and die on the hill of insisting that 3.5 was somehow "modular" when it PROVABLY was not. Pathfinder was even worse since most of its "innovations" consisted of declaring the most onerous and unfun bugs in 3.5's design to be features and doubling down on them.

I do like 5e for how flexible and modular it is. It's certainly a step in the right direction. I do still think that Castles and Crusades is a better 5e than 5e.

Oh man this really grinds my gears. As if the Fireball spell doesn't set fire to curtains or blow apart wooden furniture.

The issue is that because there's a specific spell that says something like "in addition, this spell can set things on fire", and so, naturally, the assumption by some players and DMs is that NO OTHER SPELLS CAN.

Even worse: having players tell you as the GM that you can't arbitrarily assign Advantage to a PC's roll because that specific set of circumstances is covered by "Feat X" (even if no one in the party HAD that Feat, which has happened to me twice in campaigns that I've run).

Now during session zero I put it out there right away for players that as GM, I can grant circumstantial advantage or disadvantage whenever I damn well please. The rule of cool > RAW.


"I catch a rat, put it over the ice, and use the fire strike spell. Did it melt:devil:?"
 

Isator Levi

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Well there I'm at a disadvantage. Looking back upon and sharing the details of a person's ban when they bring it up is a boundary that I will not cross, it is too invasive. It does mean that a person gets to have the last word on how they choose to describe those circumstances, but that's the point at which a person has to decide how much it ultimately matters.

In the end, what people say outside of a site doesn't much affect threads about, say, how games depict multiple societies with different pantheons of gods. Or what people think makes good and bad equipment lists. Supplements that people insist on owning physically. Book series and video games resembling Blades in the Dark. Opinions on the best systems for gritty superhero action. And how solo roleplaying works.

Stuff that trundles along for dozens of replies, oblivious.
 

Moonglum

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C&C pretty much got me back into gaming after nearly 10 years away, so I have a lot of appreciation for it.
Have you seen the new tribute covers they're releasing soon? The monster manual one is great:
View attachment 35380
If there were any justice in this world, C&C would have vacuumed up most of the 5E and OSR market. It is a better re-imagining of the core D&D game than anything else kicking around now.
 

Gabriel

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If there were any justice in this world, C&C would have vacuumed up most of the 5E and OSR market. It is a better re-imagining of the core D&D game than anything else kicking around now.

C&C is definitely my favorite of the D&D clones. For a while, it was my preferred D&D, even managing to finally supplant my beloved AD&D2e. But, I have to admit that I'm becoming sold on D&D 5e. Recently, I've been wondering if I really would want to go back to C&C, and surprisingly, I'm starting to lean towards "no."
 

EmperorNorton

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I think one of the funny things about "rules literalists" is that some who will complain about the logic that says "you can't melt ice with a fire spell cause it doesn't explicitly say it" will then turn around and use the same rules literalism to claim that an RPG is bad.

Take for example the hatred many people have for at-will cantrips. They'll be like "a wizard can make fire endlessly all day without rest, the world would break if a wizard could produce fire every 6 seconds for 16 hours a day!". Ignoring that the same rules for exhaustion apply to swinging a sword. As in, none. And let's be honest. Anyone who could swing a sword nonstop for 16 hours a day without tiring would be superhuman.

I've always took at-will cantrips more to mean "they take little enough energy to use that it isn't worth tracking", not literally at will. Just like most modern games don't track how many sword swings you take before fatigue.

(Also, just as an aside, melting a frozen shut door depending on how much ice was on it, would probably take longer to melt than a single fire spell lasts. You'd probably only melt the surface ice with the first casting. I'd probably require more than one casting unless it was something that created a fire that persisted).
 
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AsenRG

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Well there I'm at a disadvantage. Looking back upon and sharing the details of a person's ban when they bring it up is a boundary that I will not cross, it is too invasive. It does mean that a person gets to have the last word on how they choose to describe those circumstances, but that's the point at which a person has to decide how much it ultimately matters.

In the end, what people say outside of a site doesn't much affect threads about, say, how games depict multiple societies with different pantheons of gods. Or what people think makes good and bad equipment lists. Supplements that people insist on owning physically. Book series and video games resembling Blades in the Dark. Opinions on the best systems for gritty superhero action. And how solo roleplaying works.

Stuff that trundles along for dozens of replies, oblivious.
I don't understand - are you the Official TBP Representative or something?
If it's not official...well, you find TBP to be fun, so have fun with it:thumbsup:. We don't, so we're fine here as it is.

If yes, I give you permission to share the details of my temporary bans. That's not going to be "too invasive" to me...I literally think they don't matter. I laughed upon receiving both of them...but I laughed AT THE MODS. Because that kind of BS was nonsensical in a way that would make Kafka worried.
I mean, come on, banning for "abuse of emoticons"? On a site that doesn't allow more than 10 in a post, to begin with?

And no, I didn't leave because of the bans (the latter of which has probably elapsed, unless it has been "upgraded"...I neither know nor care).

I left the place - where I'd had many fun moments - because those were the latest drops of stupid in a long, long list. Putting it simply, the moderation-approved stupidity (a lot of it political in nature) was making threads about different pantheons Not Fun To Participate In. Walking on eggshells to make sure you're not offending someone who's on the lookout for Stuff To Be Offended About can only be tolerated for so long...and people on the lookout for STBOA abounded on RPG.net when I left - including some of the mods, so I couldn't just IL them:shade:.
Bottomline: all the rules aimed at "making the site welcoming" made it unwelcoming to me, so I'm out. No, I don't think anyone should decry the loss, nor do I expect it to be noticed.
But seeing how most of the posters that I remembered being fun to interact with had already left or were banned anyway - it wasn't any big loss to me, either. Besides, by leaving, I found them quickly...some on your "sister site from the other party" (a.k.a. TRS:devil:), some found their way here. About the only ones I've not found are @ChalkLine (and the rest of that crew) and DD. The latter was another big-postcount user who got banned from TBP.

And yes, I'm sure there are threads with interesting content on TBP even now. Putting it simply, we can easily start such threads here - without the drawbacks inherent in posting there. And, as mentioned above, the way I see it, I don't have reasons to believe those threads would be any less fun or productive. The reverse seems quite possible, though.

In the end, what rules you decide to impose on a forum is like choosing the music for a bar: some people might enter because they heard My Chemical Romance. Others would pass it because of My Chemical Romance.
 

VisionStorm

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Personally I don't think he's inconsistent, more he's a dedicated "it's only politics if their side is saying it" person; he cares about people agreeing with him and his opinions and not breaking plausible deniability when they're too awful.

I've seen him ban people at his own political side as well, particularly if he's already put his foot down, but people keep dragging the topic to RL/non-RPG politics. But he does seem to indulge basking in his own ego.
 

Dropbear

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C&C pretty much got me back into gaming after nearly 10 years away, so I have a lot of appreciation for it.
Have you seen the new tribute covers they're releasing soon? The monster manual one is great:
View attachment 35380
The CKG is kinda what drew me in, now I want them all. But I was really struck by nostalgia with the M&T binder so ordered that as well.
 

robiswrong

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So does that make Sorceror "urban fantasy heartbreaker":grin:?
I know this is a joke, but... kinda the opposite.

So a fantasy heartbreaker is "a game that wants to do Not D&D, but is using so much stuff from D&D, usually without thinking about it, that it's limiting its ability to be successful". Roughly.

Sorceror is "OMG THIS COULD TOTALLY BE A WW SPLAT BUT I'M GOING TO SHOW THEM HOW TO DO IT RIGHT".
 

Gabriel

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The CKG is kinda what drew me in, now I want them all. But I was really struck by nostalgia with the M&T binder so ordered that as well.

I was disappointed with the M&T binder. I misunderstood and thought that they would mimic the presentation of the AD&D2e Monstrous Compendium. Instead, they just released the book in the same book based page flow but in a looseleaf format. It completely defeated the whole idea and function of the binder format.
 

AsenRG

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I know this is a joke, but... kinda the opposite.

So a fantasy heartbreaker is "a game that wants to do Not D&D, but is using so much stuff from D&D, usually without thinking about it, that it's limiting its ability to be successful". Roughly.

Sorceror is "OMG THIS COULD TOTALLY BE A WW SPLAT BUT I'M GOING TO SHOW THEM HOW TO DO IT RIGHT".
I know this is how Edwards was using it...but I used in the meaning of "a game that tries to show how the creator thinks Fantasy Gaming Should Be Done, but never reaches popular acclaim compared to the 800 lbs gorilla". Which Sorceror totally is, just in relation to White Wolf, BTW:thumbsup:.
Mind you, it's not a pejorative term when used this way. Many, many great games (say Ars Magica) never reach popular acclaim, overshadowed by the 800 lbs gorilla. Its shadow is huge and dark!
 

ffilz

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I know this is how Edwards was using it...but I used in the meaning of "a game that tries to show how the creator thinks Fantasy Gaming Should Be Done, but never reaches popular acclaim compared to the 800 lbs gorilla". Which Sorceror totally is, just in relation to White Wolf, BTW:thumbsup:.
Mind you, it's not a pejorative term when used this way. Many, many great games (say Ars Magica) never reach popular acclaim, overshadowed by the 800 lbs gorilla. Its shadow is huge and dark!
I think for "heart breaker" to apply, it would imply that the game did not do remotely as well as the designer hoped for. Edwards knew what he was up against with Sorcerer and published it in a way that he didn't lose his shirt on, and within the circles that were interested in it, it did well, so I suspect he was reasonably satisfied.

By the 800 lb gorilla measure, every game but D&D is a heart breaker, though some (like White Wolf) have at least been able to stand in the dim light and not be totally shadowed.
 

ffilz

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As to those other sites, I still go to them occasionally, even tried engaging in a few threads on TBP, but so many of their threads are just questions that everyone answers but there is little to no discussion of (at least here we often actually have some discussion about those kinds of questions). I have not found any remotely interesting RPG threads in the past year or more to read on that other site. When I'm in the mood to sit by a virtual campfire I drop in on the politics threads.
 

Moonglum

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Both TBP and therpgsite are totally insufferable, regardless of your politics. The last times I I looked, think the basic rpg board at pundit's site has half a dozen flame-throwing political threads going on any given day, virtually all of them furiously angry echo chambers. I almost never go to either place any more.
 

TristramEvans

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For "Heartbreaker" to apply, IMO, it has to include

1) obvious passion and unbridled enthusiasm on part of the amateur author for a game that has no hope of ever being financially successful

combined with

2) a lack of awareness of the hobby overall - classically, those who have never played any game besides D&D, but this could be any game where the author thinks they are doing something unique and revolutionary simply because they have no wider awareness of the hobby and design trends.
 

redlemonginger

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I can't really think of many things that are really that damaging to the hobby. I think it's pretty healthy overall. There are things I don't enjoy that are very popular right now, but I wouldn't say it's bad for the hobby.

I would like the market share open up a bit so we can get more competition. The new avatar rpg is definitely a sign of that happening. I didn't buy it, but I'm happy for their success!

I haven't really been an active member on those forums, but I have lurked a bit. I mostly come from reddit and youtube. I think I was told about this forum by Savage Schemer on reddit (r/rpg). Really liking this crowd of people :smile:

Reddit's biggest issue is that people just recommend their favourite game all the time even if it's not relevant. Really not a fan of that.
 
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robiswrong

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For "Heartbreaker" to apply, IMO, it has to include

1) obvious passion and unbridled enthusiasm on part of the amateur author for a game that has no hope of ever being financially successful

combined with

2) a lack of awareness of the hobby overall - classically, those who have never played any game besides D&D, but this could be any game where the author thinks they are doing something unique and revolutionary simply because they have no wider awareness of the hobby and design trends.
Yeah those are the two biggies, I think. A "D&D, but..." design with a lack of awareness of the larger hobby is pretty much it. But keep in mind:
The basic notion is that nearly all of the listed games have one great idea buried in them somewhere. It's perhaps the central point of this essay - that yes, these games are not "only" AD&D knockoffs and hodgepodges of house rules. They are indeed the products of actual play, love for the medium, and determined creativity. That's why they break my heart, because the nuggets are so buried and bemired within all the painful material I listed above.
Combined with a poor business model that was doomed to fail (trying to keep in the retail channel against the behemoths without doing the artistic work necessary to be a Cool Thing).
 

AsenRG

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I think for "heart breaker" to apply, it would imply that the game did not do remotely as well as the designer hoped for. Edwards knew what he was up against with Sorcerer and published it in a way that he didn't lose his shirt on, and within the circles that were interested in it, it did well, so I suspect he was reasonably satisfied.
I'll concede this point. He even managed a reasonably successful KS, IIRC:thumbsup:.

By the 800 lb gorilla measure, every game but D&D is a heart breaker, though some (like White Wolf) have at least been able to stand in the dim light and not be totally shadowed.
Of course, I mean the latter case. Nobody would call Vampire or CoC "a heartbreaker", even if neither is as popular as D&D in North America:shade:.

(Also, just as an aside, melting a frozen shut door depending on how much ice was on it, would probably take longer to melt than a single fire spell lasts. You'd probably only melt the surface ice with the first casting. I'd probably require more than one casting unless it was something that created a fire that persisted).
Sure, but the point is whether you can melt it at all. You can repeat as necessary, especially if it requires negligible energy expenditure, right?
Whether that would be viable if you were being chased by werewolves is another matter:tongue:!
 

Black Leaf

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2) a lack of awareness of the hobby overall - classically, those who have never played any game besides D&D, but this could be any game where the author thinks they are doing something unique and revolutionary simply because they have no wider awareness of the hobby and design trends.

"NO TRUE NEUTRAL ALIGNMENTS" shouts Kevin, the 35th level game designer.
 

TristramEvans

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In the main I am in agreement, but with exceptions. For some games the core rule in the 1st edition needed a change. Obvious examples include WoD and Shadowrun, both of which evolved their rules over several versions.
In both the case of World of Darkness and Shadowrun, the cleanup between 1st and 2nd edition was exactly that - a revision, retaining essentially the same core system. That's not the sort of thing I take issue with.
 

VisionStorm

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In both the case of World of Darkness and Shadowrun, the cleanup between 1st and 2nd edition was exactly that - a revision, retaining essentially the same core system. That's not the sort of thing I take issue with.

That's the way it should be IMO. They've made so many changes to D&D across editions I don't know what to think of it anymore. I don't even have a "favorite" edition, cuz they all have stuff I can't stand. Even 3e, which in terms of core mechanics is one of my favorite editions (streamlined d20+Mod, etc.), gets bogged down with a lot of useless baggage and poorly implemented Feats that complicate things. 5e is too bland and over emphasizes fiddly class features, which is the thing dislike the most--classes. 4e is 4e (never even played it). 2e lacked unified mechanics, but gives me nostalgia and had great supplements. Never played 1e. I hated OD&D and gives me flash backs of the old edition wars (which I experienced mostly as Basic vs 2e), which I feel are now continued by fanatics of the OSR.

Every time I look at it now I think: What is D&D? What is my North Star? What is the guiding principle that makes D&D, D&D, and lets me know "This is D&D"?

IDK, but I'm sure WotC will tell me once 6e comes out and they establish the next iteration of non-backwards compatible rules they expect everyone to buy.
 

Black Leaf

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That's the way it should be IMO. They've made so many changes to D&D across editions I don't know what to think of it anymore. I don't even have a "favorite" edition, cuz they all have stuff I can't stand. Even 3e, which in terms of core mechanics is one of my favorite editions (streamlined d20+Mod, etc.), gets bogged down with a lot of useless baggage and poorly implemented Feats that complicate things. 5e is too bland and over emphasizes fiddly class features, which is the thing dislike the most--classes. 4e is 4e (never even played it). 2e lacked unified mechanics, but gives me nostalgia and had great supplements. Never played 1e. I hated OD&D and gives me flash backs of the old edition wars (which I experienced mostly as Basic vs 2e), which I feel are now continued by fanatics of the OSR.

Every time I look at it now I think: What is D&D? What is my North Star? What is the guiding principle that makes D&D, D&D, and lets me know "This is D&D"?

IDK, but I'm sure WotC will tell me once 6e comes out and they establish the next iteration of non-backwards compatible rules they expect everyone to buy.
By this point, I think D&D is best seen as the "brand" for a family of related but different RPGs.
 

Brock Savage

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I guess I am a dick GM who is glad he doesn't play with hardcore gamers. After reading the developers weigh in on their reasons for spell target verbiage in 5e I decided to adhere closely to RAW and RAI. My justification? Sorcery is based on strange cosmic forces and alien mathematics scarcely understood by man. Casting a combat spell doesn't resemble shooting a pew pew video game laser in any way shape or form and most are keyed to target animating life force. No one has ever complained except for, you guessed it, one of the veteran gamers I recently invited.
 

Brock Savage

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Take for example the hatred many people have for at-will cantrips. They'll be like "a wizard can make fire endlessly all day without rest, the world would break if a wizard could produce fire every 6 seconds for 16 hours a day!". Ignoring that the same rules for exhaustion apply to swinging a sword. As in, none. And let's be honest. Anyone who could swing a sword nonstop for 16 hours a day without tiring would be superhuman.

I've always took at-will cantrips more to mean "they take little enough energy to use that it isn't worth tracking", not literally at will. Just like most modern games don't track how many sword swings you take before fatigue.
I like the way you think, dude. You just gotta rule whatever's plausible and fitting for your campaign setting and then stay consistent. Right up front I told my 5e players they can't cast guidance like a nervous tic and that it is meant for non-reactive tasks that take a minute or less. You can't cast it in social situations because casting a spell in front of of people unannounced is tantamount to pulling out a gun and brandishing it aggressively. It's just not done in the majority of social situations. Everyone was cool with it.

I got tons of little rulings like that which have built over the years to give my game its own identity.
 

Moonglum

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The only problem I have with cantrips/at-will spells as enacted in modern edition D&D is that they are functionally just excuses for letting magic using characters 'zap' enemies every turn so they don't feel left out in combat. Yawn. The idea that every class is supposed to be able to do something loosely equivalently useful every turn of combat is just blech; it trivializes the whole purpose of having different classes, reducing characters to little algorithms for doling out damage. i'd rather play my 1E wizard who gets to blow the doors off someone a couple times a day but otherwise is relying on moxie and grifts.
 

Brock Savage

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The only problem I have with cantrips/at-will spells as enacted in modern edition D&D is that they are functionally just excuses for letting magic using characters 'zap' enemies every turn so they don't feel left out in combat. Yawn. The idea that every class is supposed to be able to do something loosely equivalently useful every turn of combat is just blech; it trivializes the whole purpose of having different classes, reducing characters to little algorithms for doling out damage. i'd rather play my 1E wizard who gets to blow the doors off someone a couple times a day but otherwise is relying on moxie and grifts.
I am running a B/X game right now and appreciate that nuances of old school gaming but let's not kid ourselves and say that playing an old school magic-user is anything but an acquired taste at best. Most people dislike being the equivalent of a one-shot magic item. For every person like you and I that get into surviving with 3 hp, a dagger, and no spells, I can assure you there are many more who would find it incredibly boring to shoot their wad then hide out in the middle of the formation until they rest for 8 hours.
 

Stan

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The only problem I have with cantrips/at-will spells as enacted in modern edition D&D is that they are functionally just excuses for letting magic using characters 'zap' enemies every turn so they don't feel left out in combat. Yawn. The idea that every class is supposed to be able to do something loosely equivalently useful every turn of combat is just blech; it trivializes the whole purpose of having different classes, reducing characters to little algorithms for doling out damage. i'd rather play my 1E wizard who gets to blow the doors off someone a couple times a day but otherwise is relying on moxie and grifts.
It's fine, mostly. But I think it is a holdover from 4e when everyone had at-will powers.
 

EmperorNorton

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You can't cast it in social situations because casting a spell in front of of people unannounced is tantamount to pulling out a gun and brandishing it aggressively. It's just not done in the majority of social situations.
See, my thought is also like "you want to risk it, give me a sleight of hand check to hide the somatic components, and a bluff check to hide the verbal ones". (which for some social spells may still be worth it to try, especially on like an arcane trickster or bard who has high sleight of hand/bluff).
 

Bunch

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The second most damaging thing to the hobby is DC Heroes being out of print. A travesty if there ever was one!
It is a shame we don't have an easy example from which rpg designers can learn what not to do.

:gunslinger:
 

TristramEvans

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I am running a B/X game right now and appreciate that nuances of old school gaming but let's not kid ourselves and say that playing an old school magic-user is anything but an acquired taste at best. Most people dislike being the equivalent of a one-shot magic item. For every person like you and I that get into surviving with 3 hp, a dagger, and no spells, I can assure you there are many more who would find it incredibly boring to shoot their wad then hide out in the middle of the formation until they rest for 8 hours.


49477217481_83ac113fd7_o.jpg
 

carpocratian

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Now during session zero I put it out there right away for players that as GM, I can grant circumstantial advantage or disadvantage whenever I damn well please. The rule of cool > RAW.

During Session Zero (or before I even agree to let someone join a game), I go into detail about my GMing style and how I view rules. One of the things I tell them is that I tend to use "the rule of what makes sense." If a player has a spell that does X, but realistically it also means it could do Y, then it can do Y (and maybe Z), even if the rules don't cover that. A well thought out creative use of a spell (or anything, really) goes a long way in my games.

By the same token, if a given rule doesn't make sense to me, I change it, either beforehand or the first time we encounter it. I'm consistent with those changes, though, so the players know how such things will work in the future.
 
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