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klecser

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Everything posted by klecser

  1. The POW cost is a tremendous cost. The ramification of it is that you could cast that spell just one or two times and make your character completely unable to resist the effects of spells cast on them because of a weak POW. What will happen is that they will get potentially unbalanced advantages in one or two games and then render themselves very ineffective from then on. That might be a good lesson to learn. Right now, my players know over a half dozen spells between three characters. And they have only cast one of them once. Because they are too afraid to cast them. And that is exactly how it should be. They know the mechanics consequences of those that they've researched the most. And they've learned spells that they don't fully know the consequences of. There is no rule that says that players are entitled to RAW descriptions of spells. In fact, it is always best if the name used for the spell is completely cryptic and they can't look it up. Edit: Here is an analogy. And I'm not trying to patronize you or anything ColoradoCthulhu, so if this is second nature to you, maybe it will help newer Keepers anyway. In D&D, everyone has complete knowledge of all of the rules. As an adventure game, the culture of D&D is about managing resources that you know intimate details about to their fullest. I say "culture" because, although that is what is most common in D&D circles, it doesn't have to be played that way. But it is, I'm sure partly because it also creates a common language that people speak. Horror investigation is very different. The most fun is had in Call of Cthulhu the less you know. And that particularly means spells. Consider these example exchanges: Dungeon Master: You find a dusty book on a shelf. Contained within the pages are a spell that you can copy into your spellbook. Player Character: Cool, which spell? Dungeon Master: Ray of Frost Player Character: Cool! *starts looking it up in the book* Dungeon Master: I got you. It can be cast on a monster up to 120 yards away as an Attack and does 1d10 damage. [I don't know the exact stats.] [Riveting. Now, that is hyberbolic. And it doesn't have to be done that way. But anyone in the audience who has played D&D knows that this is common, especially among DMs developing skills.] Keeper: "After an intense period of study, and your mental stability wracked by these revelations, you uncover the secrets of an eldritch chant that calls upon the powers of some otherworldly force. You think, perhaps, that the chant could be used in a pinch to inflict harm on your enemies. Investigator: What does the tome name the spell as? Keeper: Forceful Deliverance of Enemies Investigator: What can I discern about what it does? Keeper: Not much, I'm afraid. There are horrid pictures of flesh being rendered. And there appear to be risks to you as well for tapping this source and inflicting this harm. Investigator (OOC): Where would I find this in the rulebook? Keeper: You have the information you received. [Knowing that Forceful Deliverance of Enemies is a unique name, not in the Keeper's Rulebook.] Now, kind Keepers wouldn't be this extreme, but the idea is to illustrate what might be possible and to model expectations with players. I like Call of Cthulhu because the change in style tends to put players into learning mode and, if they've come from D&D or other "mainstream" fantasy adventure games, they are more likely to learn and adapt to these new parameters if you use them from the beginning. Bringing this full circle, the point is that CoC Investigators shouldn't need to get total knowledge of any spell. This is part of what keeps balance. The spell, as written, is for Keeper's eyes only.
  2. Lloyd, you are the one who is overreacting right now. You posted a thread that you intended to be funny, and you worded it so subtly that the "funny" wasn't really detectable. So, I answered it seriously. And man, am I a monster for doing so, because I added a little commentary on a common issue of interpretation of expertise that you KNOW influences layperson interpretation of science, if you've studied it. And ever since that happened, rather than accepting the fact that you maybe could have worded your intentions more clearly, you've just been pitching a fit. You could have led the thread with "I've studied Physics and I find this nuance funny and interesting!" But no. You managed to post just about the most cryptic initial post you could have given your intentions. And now you're all surprised that your precise intentions happen to not have been read correctly? Come on, man. And @g33k, you have a solid handle on it. Don't worry. I'm never going to tease you with what I know and don't know.
  3. I'm a scientist, and a Christian, and I've never gone to either group to explain to them the error of their ways. If you are making a faith argument, I have no problem with that whatsoever. You asked what seemed like a direct scientific question. And I gave you a scientific answer. If you didn't want a scientific answer, that is perfectly ok. Just so we're clear...I'm not saying that a scientific answer to the Big Bang is the only viable answer. Faith answers exist as well. You framed your question/humor in a scientific manner. So I responded in kind. Methinks you're making some assumptions about my perspective. But you also haven't asked. I also think you misinterpreted my Bio. I've been playing role-playing games for 27 years. I'm not 27 years old. I'm 42. So, I was kinda like "He knows my age and has been studying Physics for 40+ years?..." Does your argument change knowing that I'm older? Do you respect my responses more or less, knowing that I'm not 27? Really, who is being unreasonable here? Lloyd, I haven't seen anything in my life that says that age guarantees intelligence, experience or empathy. It pains me that you went directly to "young American" as the main justification for your reaction. I reacted to what you wrote. You constructed an age and nationality that fits your dislike for what I wrote. How should I respond to that? You said uni, so I should assume you're a Brit and chuck a British stereotype your way?
  4. You seemed to be asking a serious question, and you got a serious answer. Which, if you've studied Physics longer than I've been born, you should know the answer to that question. If your goal was to bring it up in a humorous light, there isn't much in your message that seems to indicate that humor. You used the "surprised" emoji. Which would tend to indicate that you have a more serious take? Whatever, dude. You asked if the Big Bang violates the Laws of Conservation. It doesn't. I don't know how you wanted people to respond to that, whether a serious or humorous question... I'm interested to hear why my nationality matters. What fun stereotypes do you plan to tout out if I am? And are you willing to have those reciprocated? Because I won't reciprocate.
  5. I expect that this is the case as well. It is important for people to continue questioning and to be skeptical. The style of science education that teaches people that science is about memorizing answers is doing them a disservice. Science is a system of questioning. But it also has rules that define the parameters for fairness for that questioning.
  6. I teach physics. The conservation laws apply to the Universe as we observe it now. Not as it was before or at the moment of the Big Bang. We don't know what existed before the Big Bang. The microwave background radiation that we measure shows an origin point of the Universe, and it reveals a very rapid change of a radiation-dominated Universe to a matter-dominated Universe. At no point during that transition were matter and energy not conserved. Light effectively collides in a very dense state, slows down, and becomes the first sub atomic particles, which organize into the first hydrogen and helium atoms. A law, by definition, is not just an idea that scientists have that isn't testable. Think of a law as transcending experimentation. Because every single time we observe particular phenomena, they always behave in the same way. Every single time. That doesn't mean that there isn't more to learn. I'm having a difficult time getting a read on your post. Because if I take it literally, and not as a joke, it seems to imply that you think that you can have a thought and suddenly invalidate the work of thousands of people thinking and observing for millions of hours. I'm optimistic that that is not the case, but I think it is worth engaging on it, because we live in a world right now where expertise is under constant attack by non-experts.
  7. I'm not a Brexit expert, but I recall UK Backers refuting this claim when it was made. Of course, opinions will vary on hot button issues.
  8. Both you and groovyclam have made some good points. I'm not saying that people shouldn't be paid. My impression has been that when gamers start a supplement Kickstarter, they often factor in labor and physical material cost to the price of the book. Regardless, I think there are problems when someone says that they don't have the capital to produce the physical copies of a book that a Kickstarter supposedly paid for.
  9. What I've learned over the last 24 hours is that there is a difference of assumption between some Backers (myself included) and Stephanie. Stephanie has used funds from Kickstarters to fund operational costs for her business. We now know that for certain. Backers have been under the assumption that when you Back a project, that money will be used for THAT project exclusively, to make sure it gets done. No where in any of the SF Kickstarters does it say "funds will be used to keep SF going," and had we known that in advance, some of us never would have Backed. That is where some of us perceive the dishonesty: a difference in assumptions of what Kickstarter is for. And I believe that it is not crazy to believe that funds paid into a Kickstarter should be used for that Kickstarter.
  10. I think it is important for people here to understand what the current situation is with Stygian Fox Kickstarters. They've had a rocky last seven months, and things didn't really get any better today. The good news is that New Tales of The Miskatonic Valley 2nd Ed. is out in PDF. The bad news is that, in the most recent update (#53), Stephanie admitted that Stygian Fox does not have the funds to pay for physical books to send out to Backers for this Kickstarter, and that they will be using revenue from releasing the PDF on Drivethru and from Bundles of Holding to ship the books a month from now. I'm not going to post the text of the Update here because I don't want to violate Kickstarter's practice of updates being Backer-unlocked. This confirms what a lot of us have suspected for a long time, and what Stephanie has repeatedly denied, despite the fact that many of us weren't born yesterday. Stygian Fox is not using money gained through projects to fund and finish those projects. So, this leaves me wondering where it all ends. Will the Wild Hunt and Occam's Razor require new influxes of funds to complete? Why did Stephanie lie this whole time when she just could have come clean and not alienated so many community members? We may never know, but I personally feel like Stygian Fox is engaging in unsustainable business practices that do not create trust in Backers. I can't tell anyone here what to do, but it is pretty evident at this stage that this behavior is going to continue until we vote with our wallets. Stygian Fox has turned out some high quality products. But I would rather receive fewer Call of Cthulhu products in a year if it means that I'm not swindled. Other people will feel differently. Enabling business practices like this is what allows them to be sustained.
  11. Great to hear you having fun together!
  12. My answer to this is always the same. The Keeper makes a judgment call that places both MGF before RAW, and mutual communication with players above isolated Keeper decisions. In this particular instance, I would weigh the other factors of the game and decide whether it "feels fair" for a player to be "double dinged" under the circumstances. Heck, maybe the best thing is to ASK the player, OOC, what they think should happen under the circumstances. Making decisions like this is less about what the "right" call is for the Keeper to make and more about what the best call is, in consultation with the game group.
  13. I've always played it as they get a telegram and start off on the next available travel day. Solo adventures need to be a little flexible with the rules. I do find that AAtD does leave out some key "what if this happens" guidelines. Don't shy away from taking on the role of Keeper and crafting whatever story you deem interesting. Alone Against the Dark is REALLY hard and I found my experience to be a lot more enjoyable by fudging the rules every so often when it suited me.
  14. And just so I'm clear T.R., these are really minor things in my mind. But it doesn't mean we can't strive to improve! Thanks for leading them in this endeavor!
  15. It actually happens more than once. Page 25 too. The only reason it bothered me is because I printed black and white and the sidebar's color was indistinguishable from the main body text in black and white. Sidebars just need a bit more contrast with the page.
  16. Review: Refractions of Glasston for Call of Cthulhu When I first heard of a group of college students working with faculty and Chaosium mentors to write a scenario I was simultaneously hopeful and skeptical. On one hand, anyone who has played role-playing games for an extended period of time knows that writing content for a wide audience for a game is challenging. My head spins a bit when I think about taking quality writing and needing to support it with art, handouts, editing and layout that makes for a truly professional-looking package. That isn’t easy. On the other hand, Miskatonic Repository has provided a lovely platform to allow amateur writers access to publication avenues that were not present in the past. Why shouldn’t a college course provide an opportunity for experiential learning? With these competing perspectives in mind, I dove into Refractions of Glasston (RoG henceforth) with a positive and open mind. And I was not disappointed. The scenario is a 1920s-era investigation set within the historical context of Indiana at the time. This is probably my favorite part of the endeavor. I learned a bit of Indiana’s glass manufacturing history by reading this scenario. Call of Cthulhu has always had the advantage of being a nice vehicle for exploring true history in the context of fiction. Having real world tie-ins in any CoC scenario are useful for giving players reasons as to why their character would be present and engaged. I think this will help the scenario especially if run at conventions. At this point, note that there will be spoilers moving forward. There are specific plot points that I want to give as feedback to the student writers and I can’t really do that without making specific references to happenings. I enthusiastically recommend this scenario for play, so if you are a player and want to send it off to your Keeper, I think you can feel confident in doing so. Please direct your Keeper to read the rest of the review for tips for running it. I have a long list of things that I like about the scenario. The biggest one for me is the cast of characters. The authors have done a great job of fleshing out the details of a wide variety of different characters for players to interact with, each with their own personal motives. This micro-setting feels “lived in” and the characters give it that authenticity. I think it is particularly important for a scenario of any game to have characters that players want to interact with. RoG has NPCs with a variety of motives. The town is really well fleshed out. Glasston, as presented, has the right number of buildings for exploration activities to have solid depth, while not also being overwhelming in scope. Of particular note is the temporal variations that the authors have worked into the text about specific locations. There are many options as to what could happen depending upon the timing of when the investigators explore a particular location. Whether a Keeper uses these as written, or adapts them to their own purposes, it can never hurt to have more options. I find “the monster” of this scenario to be very interesting. I think fear of being cut by glass is a very real phobia of a lot of people, and for good reason. Any scenario that targets common fears is immediately aiding in the development of mood. The Glass Plague is creepy and deadly and gives investigators added incentive to continue to find out more critical information as to what is happening in town. This threat also has a calculating intelligence behind it. I think the scenario could probably stand on the Glass Plague alone, without the entity at all, but the added layer of a cold, directed intelligence behind what is happening just makes everything even more interesting and terrifying. The attacks of the creature are varied and interesting. The overall organization of the scenario follows three distinct acts. The first act is a sandbox with a large amount of supporting material to help it feel fleshed out. The last two acts are a bit more prescriptive. One of the most interesting elements of the sandbox act is the idea of the suspicion tracker. This is a simple but very powerful mechanic that I think could be broadly used in many investigative horror scenarios. A question constantly facing Keepers is timing of when sinister elements make their move. I’m sure opinions on this will vary on a continuum from “when the Keeper deems the time to be right,” to a more objective method of determination with the suspicion tracker. At the end of the day, the “correct” answer is whatever makes the game most interesting for a particular group. The suspicion tracker adds a concrete option for Keepers who prefer discrete triggers to events. The extent to which particular events contribute to the tracker make sense in the context of the overarching narrative. The layout of the scenario is professionally done. Everything that makes the organization of 7E scenarios great is present here, down to the consistent formatting of character information blocks. This standardization makes it immediately easy for new fans to pick up the importance of getting characters down first before any events transpire. The art of the handouts, the town map, and character portraits are all well done, given the amateur group producing the scenario. It is refreshing to see character portrait artwork that breaks the mold of what is “usual” for 7E. That isn’t a criticism of 7E so much as an appreciation for art variation in any product. The pre-generated characters are well designed and each follows the “Holy Trifecta” rule of at least one or two critically useful skills (Library Use, Social, Investigative). This is a free product being produced for learning purposes for students and as a benefit to the community. So, I think anyone needs to keep that in mind when they are evaluating. I’m not inclined to get too nitpicky here, except when that could have a positive impact on learning. I’ll end my “things I like” section by just mentioning how important I think it is that a class at a religious college is publishing this scenario. Role-playing in general, but especially “occult”-themed games like Call of Cthulhu, are often demonized by faith groups. I think it is a critical act of gaming leadership for a class at a religious college to publish a secular scenario. Thank you for sending a positive message about story-telling from your vantage point! As to stretches, there are a couple aspects of the narrative that I think deserve mention for prospective Keepers. A linchpin of the narrative is setting up the concept of the Sand Pit as a key location for the third act. The sandbox portion is pretty light on concrete mentions of the Sand Pit. It would be up to the Keeper to plan by having a list of NPCs that are the most important sources of Sand Pit information. For me, the top four (in order) are: Dennis Adkins, Gloria Hillis, Barry Coddle, and Elias Winters. Barry Coddle is the only character that gives explicit references to the Sand Pit. I think that relevant sections of the text would benefit greatly from reminding the Keeper that each of these characters are important sources of information for helping the investigators learn about the significance of the Sand Pit. For example: “Keepers should note that, if the investigators have not learned about the Sand Pit before now, Gloria is an excellent opportunity to communicate that information...” A journal entry handout cryptically references “sand.” But other than that, scouring the scenario, I find scant reference to the main sources of info about the Sand Pit. I’m guessing the authors had the idea firmly placed in their minds as they wrote and edited. In my opinion, it doesn’t come out in the text. I could see an inexperienced Keeper failing to do enough to set up the idea of the Sand Pit and, by extension, I could see a group of players completely lost as to how to act on the information they have about the Glass Plague. As written, it is entirely possible that if the investigators don’t talk to Barry Coddle, they would never hear the term Sand Pit uttered in the adventure. A good axiom to follow in scenario preparation is that players always need more chances to find information than you might think. References to the Sand Pit seem too light to me. There are a couple points in the scenario where the NPCs seem overly aggressive. For example, the interaction with the Sheriff seems odd. One failed Fast Talk roll and not leaving immediately is enough to get an investigator shot? By the sheriff? Yikes. I understand that one of the central ideas is that the Glass Plague alters people’s minds, but this action seems in direct contradiction to what we learn about Joan McKay in her character bio. She wants to “keep outsiders from suspecting its plans” and her “strong moral code often outweighs Kh’yrenery’hk’s influence.” These statements seem to directly contradict her just shooting an investigator because she doesn’t like the cut of their jib. Shooting somebody isn’t an effective way to curtail suspicion. Another example would be the Brawl in Aisle 12. That just doesn’t sit well with me as a Keeper. It kind of smacks of “let’s be sure to get a combat encounter in here.” I think perhaps the goal is to give investigators an opportunity to study the Glass Plague, but those opportunities abound in the scenario. Does it function to influence the suspicion tracker? Is the goal to increase tension through violence? It just seems overly aggressive. The Jim Crow Laws sidebar feels like a tacked-on and missed opportunity. It basically says: “Jim Crow Laws existed. Use that if you want.” Without any guidance on how to use them appropriately, I think the section potentially does more harm than good. Maybe the writers didn’t feel qualified to write advice on using Jim Crow in a historical scenario? If that’s the case, it is probably best to not try to do something you aren’t prepared or qualified for. It just leaves a hollow taste in my mouth. I feel like Call of Cthulhu is a great opportunity for us to engage on tough social issues as gamers. But without guidance on how to do that it risks making a mockery of very serious historical issues. So, my advice is either to flesh out this sidebar a bit more to give the tips needed for Keepers to be effective (maybe consulting with someone who can give appropriate guidance?) or to just ditch it entirely. I think this is a pretty deadly scenario, whether we are talking about physical or mental harm. This could be considered a strength or a weakness of the scenario, depending upon who you ask and whether it is used as a one-shot or as part of a campaign. I wonder if it was independently play-tested, because I see a TPK here as being pretty likely, unless the investigators have a well-thought-through plan for fighting Kh’yrenery’hk. Very minor nitpicks: Page 24, first paragraph: “Visint” Page 26, first column, last paragraph: Sounds (pun intended) like it should be a Listen roll, not Spot Hidden. Page 28, Glass Behemoth stat block: Damage bonus is +5D6, but Brawl attack has +1D6 In summary Refractions of Glasston is an excellent scenario with an interesting cast of characters and a truly frightening, otherworldly, unique threat. I find it easy to visualize squirming at a gaming table as the clues are uncovered and the Glass Plague is encountered. This student group should be proud of what they accomplished! Verdict: A solid 4 out of 5 for me. Highly recommended.
  17. You don't need to appease me. Keepers can do whatever they like. Your package links personal belief system directly with a professional perspective. I'm not saying they're mutually exclusive. But, I also read emotional contempt for science in your comments. The most important part of our exchange here is that Keepers consider options.
  18. To be fair, that's exactly what you did to me. My time spent in a relevant field doesn't seem to matter to you.
  19. Ok, you and I aren't going to agree on this one. I think your perceptions are influenced by widely-held stereotypes. Shame. Are you a scientist?
  20. As a scientist myself, the one thing that bothers me about the Science rules is that they pretend like the sciences are not interconnected. For example, the suggestion that an engineer knows nothing about Physics if you don't put points in it, or that a Bioligist would know nothing about Chemistry or Geology is just ludicrous. So, what I do is that if you put points in a primary, you get half those points in a secondary automatically. For example, someone who puts 60 points into engineering is going to get an automatic 30 points to put into physics. I also think that there is this odd assumption out there that scientists would mentally crumble (more than others) with the realization that evidence goes beyond what we see. I don't buy that at all, and to me it is reflective more of prejudice towards scientific thought rather than actual science psychology. I do have a scientist player right now and they are doing a great job of RPing an arc for "scientist versus Mythos." Why would a person with this package need to be at least 50??? I know 25 year old scientists who are brilliant, with an incredible command of their field, and 60 year old scientists that struggle. Age really has nothing to do with it. I also know plenty of scientists that engage in belief structures and it has no negative impact on their craft. One of the line writers of this game is a scientist and I'm pretty sure she knows quite a bit about the Occult. Is this a Science Stereotype Experience Package? I think the requirements are pretty simple: At least 80 points placed into one or more sciences, with at least 60 in one. Or something like that. And maybe specify a PhD in something. I know you want to have the Package explore a "struggle with the meaning of reason," but I view that as more personal than professional.
  21. I'll be posting my review sometime this week! Been doing a deep read of the scenario while on vacation. #morningcoffee
  22. @Nasty_Mi-Go (CJ Leung) just posted a new video. It is, in my opinion, a tour de force of quality Keeping advice/philosophy. It is my personal favorite video that he has done. Check it out:
  23. Nearly the entire filmography of John Carpenter. Many (myself included) consider The Thing (1982) to be the the most well produced and executed Lovecraftian film. I also wholeheartedly recommend the other two in Carpenter's Apocalypse trilogy: Prince of Darkness and In The Mouth of Madness.
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