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klecser

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Everything posted by klecser

  1. This isn't a binary choice. It's not like you either fudge all the time or run straight dice all the time. You use fudging strategically to help your game not suck. Why are people ok with stories sucking? Are we assuming it is inevitable and that we have no choice in the matter? That we have no agency to make sure stories are satisfying to people? I think most Keepers fudge. And I'm not talking about physical dice. I believe that some have never fudged the number that pops up on a roll. But I question that they aren't fudging some other part of the process as they manage their tables. Whether they realize where the fudge occurs is another question. People may construct rationalizations as to why they don't fudge in some capacity, chiefest of which is Keeper descriptive decision-making. If you aren't fudging a physical roll, you are very likely fudging description. And I'm going to go back to my "PC head blown off in the first five minutes" example above. If you have an early fight in a game, whether intended or not, and a PC has been building up to an interesting climax with complex politics and a lot of work and fun role-playing, why would you rob them of that on an errant dice roll? I find it hard to believe that a Keeper with any sense let's that character's head get blown off. So what do you do? You fudge. And you can rationalize all you want that fudging descriptions isn't the same as fudging dice, but they aren't effectively any different. It is a Keeper making a decision to alter an outcome for a more interesting story. And it doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you a story-telling leader. It absolutely boggles my mind that some of you are willing to accept a more mediocre story if it means attenuating to the dice. I think part of the interesting psychology of this is that some associate "fudging dice" with cheating and being a "bad or unfair person" so strongly. But as soon as you start fudging description, that's part and parcel with what we do. And it works with players too. I've been at tables where the example above has happened. And I've seen players get irritated when a Keeper rolls behind the screen. Yet, they are perfectly ok with them fudging a description, winking at all the players (or not winking, but most know what's going on), and everybody goes about their merry way. As if fudging description is perfectly acceptable, but fudging dice is an affront to the "spirit of the game." They know that this was an inopportune moment in the story, and that it would be silly to let an errant roll ruin it. I'm all ears as to what the appropriately supportive alternative is to some kind of fudge in that example. And by appropriately supportive, I don't mean a Gygaxian "too bad so sad" mentality, or "solutions" that include victim blaming.
  2. Once again, I am not saying "no risk." I'm saying "remove stupid outcomes." You want high risk. I don't want dice-driven, random stories. I just want to point out that the Luck mechanic doesn't stop an NPC from blowing a character's head off in the first five minutes of a game. (So much for player agency, huh?) If you have games like that, where you say "Welp the dice! They have spoken. You didn't get to do anything, but dice always make things better!" I don't want to game at your table. That is a failure of attenuation to table psychology. How does the gamer report go for that? "How was your game?" "My character's head got blown off in the first five minutes." "Isn't that your character that you had been building to that climax and were engineering a political reversal of the cult's policy?" "Yep, that all ended. Dice don't lie. My character went from relevant and engaged to non-existent in five seconds." "What a great Keeper! Man, imagine how boring your experience would have been if you got to accomplish your goals. Lucky that the dice were there to put you in your place!" Yeah, I don't buy it.
  3. I think that treating dice rolls as incontrovertibly sacred is just as toxic to a table vibe as fudging them maliciously against players. But that's just my perspective, and at any table any Keeper runs this is an example of something that should be discussed by any campaign group in advance. My players know I'm on their side, but they've taken enough knocks to know that they aren't being coddled.
  4. Stories are mutually crafted. Keepers depend upon players to make creative decisions to drive the narrative. Players depend upon Keepers to regulate the narrative and make decisions of their own. Fudging rolls doesn't have to deny agency. This isn't a binary decision-process. It is a continuum. You can have player agency and make decisions as a Keeper. The Keeper should have some agency to regulate story as the players do, in situ. Being at the total mercy of the dice removes agency from everybody. Agency is also, to some extent, illusion. The Keeper is constantly making decisions to regulate fun, and you either trust that process, or you don't. I've always found it pretty amazing that player's will trust their Keeper to present the framework for an interesting story, but then are completely ok with an errant die roll ruining what had the possibility of being a solid narrative. And just so I'm clear here, I'm not talking about preventing "something unexpected and bad happened to the Investigators and now they have to persevere to overcome it." I'm talking about "this produced an outcome completely illogical and fun-killing and now everybody's vibe is lost." And I can see that the logical response to that is that we also need to decide if it is even appropriate to have a die roll to begin with under certain circumstances. But people make mistakes. And you can either let a mistake derail the whole game, or you can take short term action to stop that. We all have different experiences. You've experienced loss of agency more. I've experienced inane and obtuse die rolls derailing fun more. Consideration for both is important.
  5. You do bring up an important point here. To a great extent this is an issue of trust. Trust swings both ways. Many of us have had problems with being able to trust GMs. Some players have issues trusting GMs before a game even begins. Some of us have had GMs that we've trusted at the beginning, and then that trust was betrayed when they let an errant die roll completely derail the immersion and fun of the game. The truth is that all of these things happen and we should all work to stop any issue that doesn't produce MGF. How can we, as Keepers, get better at anticipating issues of trust in advance?
  6. This. Now, a couple disclaimers: 1) roll fudging that maintains a "Keeper vs player" mentality or that is designed to harm the players is never acceptable. You only "fudge up." 2) I do mostly campaign play. Players get attached to their characters. It is ok for players to get attached to their characters. It is not a Keeper's business to tell a player how they should feel about anything, let alone their character. It becomes all about communication under those circumstances and respecting what people like about games. In one-shots, where the expectation of TPK or player-death is expected, this isn't controversial. I would roll completely out in the open when running a game at an FLGS, and make clear that TPK and player death was possible/likely. 3) Anyone reading this should consider that there may be different purposes to fudging rolls than what you imagine. If you have only encountered roll fudging in an anti-player nefarious context, please be open to the possibility that it isn't the only reason why people fudge rolls. I get the impression that people come into this debate with the gloves off because they think the debate is about cheating when, in my eyes, it is really about psychological table management, story-telling, and respect for the players. So, just cool your jets. I really struggle with the group that says that you should never fudge rolls in campaign play. I also think that, to some extent, this should extend to one-shots too. Why? Stories with too many "random" elements just aren't fun. Maybe they are fun to you. And maybe you also aren't recognizing times when a roll ruined a story. There is no Keeper on the planet that can perfectly balance a scenario. It is complete arrogance to believe that the dice will always produce fun and compelling stories, or that you can explain your way out of any situation in a way that makes it plausible to your players. Even if you are running a one-shot, you always have to contend with the situation where a player trips on a stone in the first ten minutes and falls into a pit of lava. "You just have extra characters on hand." Yeah, but my response to that is that the random thing that just happened is absurd and stupid. Now, a good Keeper can maybe explain their way out of that. They have the sense to describe the "near miss." But everybody then knows that you did fudge. You just fudged your description rather than the roll. I think a lot of people who think they don't fudge, actually fudge. But it's just a matter of where they fudge. The true elephant in the room? Stories are not random. Period. I'm probably pretty far afield of a lot of gamers in that I land on an extreme end of the continuum of role-players. I believe that the tactical wargamer background of some of the early RPG creators produced a story-telling crutch in the hobby that most have never fully recovered from. It has trained people to devalue the nature of human story creation. I understand that a lot of people like the random elements in role-playing games. I understand that there is a little thrill that people get from the possibility of someone surprisingly doing really bad or really great in a circumstance. But I also think that if you, as a Keeper, never fudge rolls in campaign play, your stories are probably being compromised in some way, and your players may not be having as much fun as you think they are. This is why I am attracted to games like Amber and Hillfolk. It is why I really like the trend of "rules-light" games like Kids On Bikes and Tales from the Loop. It is also part of the reason why I like BRP, because BRP can be played rules-light. And we do. Now, if that isn't your cup of tea, that's fine. I've been gaming for nearly 30 years and I've seen "no fudge" ruin so many people's table experiences that I feel compelled to challenge what I consider to be poor conventional wisdom in the hobby.
  7. What I would add to this is that the true challenge of a monster is often in it's defensive armor. It doesn't matter what conventional weapon a PC has when, hidden deep in the stat block, many creatures have the fun clauses: "takes one damage from conventional weapons" and "immune to conventional weapons." Most monsters also have hefty armor to the point where a PC can roll max damage on their fancy gun and it doesn't scratch them. I disagree with The Enclave, with respect. Call of Cthulhu stat blocks frequently invalidate the idea that "if it bleeds you can kill it." Doing one damage to a creature with 32 hit points, 32 times, while facing attacks of 3D6+4D6 DB is tedious and unfun in the best circumstances and a total party wipe under average circumstances. No group of investigators is meant to gain martial victory under those circumstances. Now, a Keeper might throw in a whole bunch of NPC cannon fodder, maybe. But when you analyse your table feel, you may sense a lot of frustration. A little frustration might be ok. But you gotta know your group.
  8. Totally get it. In light of this news, I'll get the HU Leatherette to support Chris' work and the regular book for Dark Ages.
  9. I'm obviously not Chaosium, but their general operating procedure has been to produce softcovers of smaller books and hardcovers of larger books. Yes, there are softcovers of the Keeper's and Investigator's handbooks, but I'm thinking that is more of an artifact of the original 7E Kickstarter. I highly doubt either of these are coming in softcover. The last page of your PDFs shows the retail price of the standard hardbacks: Harlem Unbound 49.99 USD and Dark Ages 44.99 USD Leatherettes have ranged between 90 USD(smaller books) and 110 USD (larger books). I would guess that, given these are pretty meaty books, they'll be in the 100.00-110.00 USD range.
  10. Curious question: Is the original cover art included in your leatherette or is that sacrificed to the Old Ones?
  11. You bring up an excellent point. I don't think it is fair to just assume that players are going to min-max every opportunity that they get. Some of the arguments against players learning spells at all seem to assume this table psychology. Is there a lot of powergaming in the hobby? Yes. Does that mean that a CoC investigator will always choose to learn a spell, or always choose to cast spells that they learn? No. My players are savvy enough, and in tune with the setting enough, to be mortified of casting spells. They understand that every single time they choose to cast a spell, they are making both systemic mechanical and mood decisions. Mechanically, they are effectively choosing to undo any of the SAN gains they got from accomplishing goals in scenarios. In terms of mood, they LOVE the flavor of the struggle to learn and the process of learning spells. They play it as knowing that desperate situations may require desperate measures, and learning spells gives them access to nuclear solutions to problems. And then grappling with whether or not to take the nuclear solution is a lot of fun for them. In this context, it seems incredibly odd and sad to me that a Keeper would choose to remove the possibility of this struggle from their players. It seems like a "training wheels that never come off" approach to Keeping. "I can't trust you to use spells with mood and costs in mind, so you never get the opportunity to use spells." That's what it sounds like to me. Any Keeper needs to understand their players, and shouldn't treat their players like they are fools. I am deeply concerned that some perspectives on this issue seem to treat players like they are fools, and that it is the Keeper's job to not "suffer" those fools. I find it to be a incredibly cynical approach to table management. That, or simple lack of experience in Keeping the game. Just because a Keeper doesn't understand how to do something effectively doesn't mean that there isn't a way to do it effectively. It also doesn't mean that doing it effectively isn't difficult. There are aspects of Keeping that I haven't figured out yet. Whoever is reading this, there are aspects of Keeping that you, whoever you are, haven't figured out yet. And that means it is incumbent upon all of us to ask questions and answer questions more than we give advice. Any advice can be completely useless or even harmful in the right context.
  12. No, I feel you. If I go Leatherette I would be sad to lose the art of both. @MOB, do leatherette versions of books have the full cover art printed inside?
  13. *sigh* Your position seems to make the baseline assumption that it either isn't possible, or isn't desirable, to successfully run a game with Investigators wielding magic. You have your disclaimer at the beginning, "you do you," but then the rest of your post is basically an argument for why Keepers have miscalculated if they use magic. I completely lost faith in the intentions of "you do you" after reading your whole post. Man, this is a buzzkill. And maybe you didn't intend it that way, but I'm just telling you how I feel. It makes me feel like I'm not supposed to be capable of attenuating to the concerns you raise. And my concise counter-argument is: I am capable, as a Keeper, of addressing the concerns you raise. We can't say "Your Game Will Vary" in the hobby, while simultaneously making arguments that "yeah, but is it right for your game to vary?"
  14. Oof, I've gone from not desiring Leatherettes to desiring two Leatherettes. Curse you, Chaosium!
  15. With respect, whether you find them simple or not doesn't matter to your audience. As an educator, if someone asks you a question, saying "it's simple" doesn't instantaneously make it simple in the audience's mind. You have to know your audience. Not all of us are tech savvy, or have experience in VTTs. We're also essentially asking these questions because Fantasy Grounds website does not adequately make it clear to us what we are paying for. That isn't our problem. That's Fantasy Grounds' problem. I'd like to point out that what you said in your last message is far clearer than anything anywhere on the website. Thank you for doing that. And I typed my response before reading this. Well said groovyclam!
  16. You just saved me 15 bucks a month/99.99 a year! Thanks @ColoradoCthulhu!
  17. This helps me more than you know, because I assumed that it was doing something that it doesn't do. When I've been watching videos of actual play that cite Fantasy Grounds, I assumed that all the video and audio that was wrapped into was what Fantasy Grounds was doing. Roll20 may be more what I'm looking for. Maybe Zoom. Video with screen sharing is what I really need. Not VTT support. Meaning that a Keeper's Fantasy Grounds account has saved digital characters for each of their players. Based upon your response, it doesn't sound like it does this either? Thanks for responding!
  18. I'll throw some logs on the fire. 1) So, if I purchase an Ultimate subscription, so long as I maintain it, my players with the demo version would be able to participate in video conferencing using the platform? 2) Would they be able to host digital character sheets too? 3) Despite the answers above, we could still purchase any CoC module, use hardback rulebooks for consultation, and run dice rolling and the handouts out of FG?
  19. Weird, I was able to get in as a non-subscriber. It's being advertised as all fans?
  20. Smoking Ruins should be out in dead tree pretty soon...
  21. The tricky part is that full scenario books can be hard to find, or scenarios are isolated within other collections. The Dreaming Stone, which is difficult to find, is a classic supplement. In addition, Dennis Detweiler's Sense of the Sleight of Hand Man contains a lot of lore and situations that are great fodder for any Dreamlands scenario ideas or campaign arcs. I carved a lot of material from this supplement for my Dreamlands section. There are some interesting artifacts and characters to draw from. I'd also recommend that, if you'd like more, just spend some time reading scenario synopses of various collections. Many of them have one Dreamlands scenario as part of them.
  22. New Comet has consistently given frequent updates and has had very short delays. I've appreciated their professionalism and attenuation to Backers. Some companies understand why that is important. Some struggle to understand why it is important, I'm afraid. Not everyone gets how important PR is. Ben understands.
  23. You'll have to wait until Britannia & Beyond completes for an overview of that. I pledged extra in advance on that KS to bank funds for the main CI 7th guide. It's one of the few I don't have in my collection and the plan is to get it as an add-on. Maybe ask @Bud's RPG review if he has a copy and is interested in showing off an overview. Bud has a lot of plans on his plate right now, so it may not be feasible and I'm not intending to "volunteer him" for something that he doesn't want to do!
  24. I think you've hit at one of the key challenges of Keeping any game, which is Keeper desire/perception doesn't always align with player experience. And, as you say, communication is key. I know a GM who builds really intricate relational connections between NPCs that we, as his players, completely miss the majority of the time. They are fully logical, yet so complex that the discovery is just tedious by the time the denouement/revelation lands. He never really asks us about the extent to which we follow his web of connections and when it transpires in a game it goes something like this: We aren't really reacting to this amazing connection he has set up. It was far too subtle. We sit there and stare at him and he is very clearly waiting for our "a ha" moment. And then, usually in game, he starts slowly re-feeding us all details until we figure things out. The whole time he has this sardonic grin on his face, and by the time he steps us through all the information that we were "supposed to" pick up on initially, he expects us to be amazed by what he has written. And we just aren't. That isn't to say we don't have fun in his games. We do. He just finds his intricate logical webs far more interesting than his players do. You may say that "if communication is key, why not bring this up?" The short answer is that he is incredibly sensitive, prone to taking even the most gentle criticism personally, and it just isn't worth the drama. We have fun in other ways (he is an absolute master at interesting combat encounters) and usually only game with him once or twice a year. And that is the danger, if the logic is so detailed and/or complex it is very, very easy for players to miss details. This is why moving critical clues around is so important in CoC. Sometimes getting a clue really isn't "optional" and the story is much more about the fun of how the clue is discovered, than whether it is or is not. This is the reason why I think Gumshoe is attempting to solve a problem that never actually really existed. A good CoC Keeper has always understood that clues should not be "high stakes" if they are critical to the plot. This is a good point. I'm not saying that stories should have NO sense elements. You are correct in that some layer of logic is needed. I think when you combine all these examples together, the Keeping axiom that emerges is that depth or breadth of logic doesn't really matter if it isn't accessible and fun to players. I know a lot of GMs that keep their logic under lock-and-key in their head. They seem to be "challenging" the players, in an adversarial sense, to unravel their logic. And the players may not have necessarily being given clues that "hit," so to speak. In the context of the original thread, the question is: Under what level of logic are the players and Keeper, mutually, going to enjoy the established logic of the "hunt? If it is skewed to one side or the other, the other side just isn't going to have fun. Keeping is a dance, in this way. People don't mind being lead, so long as the experience is fun. What opportunities are there for, over time, "explaining the unexplained," rather than assuming that the loosely explained is some kind of error? How can "problems" be turned into opportunities?
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