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klecser

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Everything posted by klecser

  1. Just your friendly neighborhood fan pointing out that: 1) prodding devs doesn't make devs turn out product any faster and 2) you not knowing things doesn't mean that things don't exist. Patience, friends. πŸ˜‰
  2. Thank you for taking steps to help fans improve readability!
  3. Well, it's a base rule of the game. But as Keepers, we adjudicate things in the way that seems most fair to us. I don't feel comfortable telling my players "no," when they have a creative idea for something. And Fighting Maneuvers are designed to encourage creativity through description. The "combat actions" specified in the rulebook also don't specify whether "making a STR or DEX roll to escape X" is an action in combat. Yig's grasp maneuver says "opposed STR next round to resist." Does that mean that the "resist" sacrifices an investigator's action? I'd say only if they fail. So, as Keeper, you can decide whether it makes sense to allow an "escape" opposed roll and then grant an investigator an action afterwards. Call of Cthulhu is squishy. It isn't the defined set of rigid rules you find in many other RPGs. As such, I find it has much more freedom for Keeper decision-making and player-creativity, and it is just a matter of giving ourselves permission to make snap decisions. I'm fully prepared to be corrected by a designer. @Mike M @Paul Fricker But, even if Mike or Paul told me that my interpretation wasn't how it was intended, that wouldn't change how I rule it in any given circumstance. I don't like the idea of denying an investigator an option to act, especially if they made a successful roll to free themselves. I'm not trying to argue with you. I'm just pointing out that we have the freedom to interpret the rules as we see fit.
  4. The entirety of the Two-Headed Serpent Campaign gives Investigators the option of allying with Serpent factions of their choice.
  5. Covered on page 108 of the Keeper rulebook.
  6. Page 108 explicitly mentions escaping being restrained with a Fighting Maneuver. In addition, consider that Fighting Maneuvers factor in Build. STR or DEX rolls to escape monster grappling is just a straight opposed roll. Given that Build differences grant penalty dice and make maneuvers impossible with a Build difference of 3+, you'll be thanking your lucky stars (for being Right) that you're being granted an opposed STR/DEX roll. The opposed STR/DEX roll gives Investigators a chance.
  7. My entire campaign is based off of cooperation between Serpent People and humans. Many published products include human/monster interactions that are cooperative, at least to the extent that the goals are mutual.
  8. I'm posting this video essay here, even though it uses Call of Cthulhu as my main example. I think that Runequest very much fits the "consequences to ethical and moral failings are potentially severe" end of the continuum. In the video I mention Trolls as a celebration of Runequest thinking more realistically about adversaries. Just in general, Greg Stafford's mythology of Glorantha as a backdrop is just a more sophisticated game than a lot of role-players run. And I dig that about it!
  9. This came out of a great conversation with one of my players who just recently started running Call of Cthulhu 7 for the first time. They had run many a DND game, but never an investigative one. And this brought up the critical question: What is the difference between tables that play any ttrpg with no ethical or moral consequences for actions (murder-hoboing) all the way to tables that run games with historical accuracy (you did the thing and now you're going to jail)?
  10. Great idea. It's on the list! Excellent point. And in thinking about the main NPC of our campaign, it is more cadence and meter than "accent" for me. Accents are usually a disaster. When I was thinking about how to play him (a Cat of Ulthar), I wanted him to have a unique voice, but not necessarily accented, because I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain an accent. I also go into "scratchy lizard voice" with a main Serpent Person NPC in our campaign, but I can't maintain it for long because it destroys my throat. So, I always start with it, and then switch to my normal voice and just ask my players to imagine it continues. They are understanding. It HAS encouraged me to increase the variety of voices I use for Serpent People. You make a good point that Actual Plays are performances and the best groups are usually composed of professional actors. I can't stand to watch not-theatre-trained gamers do Actual Plays. And to be fair, other people probably couldn't stand an Actual Play of me. I didn't want to ASSUME too much about Becca's professional training, in case I was inadvertently pigeon-holing her or patronizing her, but I don't think it is unfair to say she has had significant theatre training and that influences all of her work. But, as you say, that shouldn't mean that someone who isn't trained in those professions can't do well. It took me 29 years of GMing to develop skills that Becca likely had right out of the gate. The sad truth is that while many of us applaud her immediate success and enjoy it, we all know that there are a lot of insecure gamers out there that treat excellence in others as a threat. I appreciate you posting your own list because there are certainly many flavors of table norms out there. A bit about me: I'm a high school science teacher and college education professor who ran a Game Club for my high school for 16 years. I've gamed with people ages 14 to 70 and there seem to me to be definite generational differences in terms of what some gamers value. It varies by individual as well, of course. My current group, composed entirely of Millenials aged 26 to 38, very much prefers action and social engagement akin to your list more than the traditional route of investigating newspapers. Why might this be? Newspapers have greatly fallen in their perceived utility by younger generations? I sometimes need to remind my group members that newspaper is an option. Not because they don't understand the role that newspapers played in the 1920s. They just don't have a gut instinct there sometimes. I also think that young people are much, much better at direct social engagement than older generations. And so they favor that in our games. They would rather get right to brass tacks than spend time fiddling around with secondary sources. Once again, every individual is different and not all generational norms show up in every member of a generation. I also want to say that I admire and support young people. I teach graduate students because young thinking keeps me growing. And I will admit that it bothers the ever-living hell out of me that some gamers treat young players as lesser just because they are different. Of course, my profession is a collection of specific skills; the most important among them is empathy. You can spot a gamer that lacks empathy a mile away. In addition, younger gamers have grown up in a world of unprecedented economic inequality (at least in the States, can't speak for other countries) and I think that the concept of creative control over a story is very attractive to them. Because they don't have that in their actual lives! Excellent additions to my original list. I hope our posts here continue to aide new Keepers. This is the real "elephant in the room," isn't it? This is the tricky thing in role-playing games: the balance between player agency and preparation/adaptation. How much needs to be prepared in advance and how much can be adapted on the fly? I think that the "nudging" becomes a problem only when it leads to pre-determined outcomes rather than creation. And maybe this is the important thing: when I "nudge" my players, I don't do it to push them towards a particular outcome. I nudge them to make a decision, whatever that decision happens to be. And then my hope is that I can sufficiently adapt what has been prepared in advance to both let them drive the outcomes within (or adjacent) to the preparation. Players understand that if they go too far afield it becomes harder to have a rich game. I think the unspoken contract here is: Keeper: "I will do everything I can to let your creativity and curiosity drive the narrative." Player: "In return, I will acknowledge that preparation is a thing, I will trust your ability to adapt, but will also acknowledge that the further afield I push us, the harder it will be for you to adapt effectively in the moment." Note that "adversarial" GMs really struggle with adaptation. Because they've hamstrung themselves from the very start. They don't view role-playing as a mutualism. And it is easier to adapt when the goal is common. My personal opinion is that one of the greatest liabilities in this hobby is people thinking Gary Gygax was a good GM. He had a very narrow skill set, and I would argue that he was an incredibly poor model of crafting social capacity. And I know this isn't a popular statement. Gygax was peddling a very specific type of dungeon-crawling that his players preferred. A lot of people have convinced themselves that everyone should prefer that style of gaming and that all GMs should aspire to "be like Gygax." If anyone here is actively trying to emulate Gygax, you're probably running a really crappy game, unless it's OSR "traditional" dungeon-crawling. We've learned so much about mutual narrative story-telling as a hobby. Many of us actively eschew this Gygax-worship as completely counter-productive to growing the hobby. You can tell I enjoy digression. 😜 Coming back to your point: I also believe deeply in player agency and my current group has really pushed me to take active steps to improve how I approach it. I think an underlying point of the video is that GMs can learn to adapt within an established framework. It is all a matter of recognizing that a scenario gives you a set of tools, and a scenario often prioritizes which set of tools the author perceives to be the most important. But, truthfully, any of the tools could be creatively useful if adapted effectively. And Becca demonstrated how to do that. She is fiercely intelligent, was well-prepared, and most importantly not afraid to deviate from the scenario as written. I've sat at so many tables over my life where the GM is clearly mortified of deviating from the text. Many GMs have told me directly (or implied) that what is written in a book is "sacred" to them. They treat "author's intention" as a significant variable in their calculus and basically treat an author as if their edited scenario is the one right way to run it. And that is not a knock on authors. Authors are human beings. Authors (and especially Call of Cthulhu authors!) encourage Keepers to deviate from the text. And some people struggle to listen to that excellent advice. Because they've built up gaming authors to be something super-human in their heads and they doubt their own abilities. Now, it isn't your job, or my job, or Chaosium's job to help people sort out their insecurities. But sorting out insecurities, for a lot of people, is what is separating them from going from "OK Keeper" to "Great Keeper." And we all can continue to improve. I happen to believe that the key to getting a major gain in player agency in games is the following philosophical and practical approachs: 1) Any scenario (published or homebrew) is a set of tools, nothing more. None of it should be treated as prescriptive. If you end up running it as written, it should be because players were curious to find that end. And if they weren't, you be a railroader. 2) Offer your group a minimum of three potential major avenues of investigation from you at any given time, but stay open to avenues of investigation from them. I don't prep one published scenario at a time. I prep at least three. And sometimes what happens is the best parts of all three! 3) Try to end sessions on cliff-hangers or new investigation paths so that you as Keeper then have time to plan what they indicate they are interested in. If your players suddenly go left field, you don't have to show that field until the next session. 4) Your body language and inflection says a lot about what you value. Good Keeping means complimenting and acting appropriately excited about player ideas. A huge tell of a GM that lacks an adaptive mindset is that they get flustered when players do things they don't expect. One of our worst Con games (and what ultimately drove us away from Cons entirely) was a WW2 pulp serial game in which we had a "you can't do that" GM. Every single creative idea we had was shot down and the game ended with us mortified at how ridiculously controlling and ineffectual the GM was. He got slaughtered in the reviews. Not because we wanted to be cruel, but because that guy should not be running games at Cons. Period. People sometimes come from hundreds of miles to a Con to have fun. Not be told that their ideas can't ever work. He happened to draw a group of fun-forward gamers who weren't going to tolerate role-playing being modelled as "this is my story and you're along for the ride." Every Keeper should practice: "Yes, and..." and "Yes, but..." and "What a fun idea! How will you pull that off?" As a teacher, a skill that pre-disposes me to GMing is effective questioning techniques. Effective questions are an art and they make a huge difference for encouraging thought and creativity. Open-ended questions. 5) Make peace with the fact that most of what you prep may not be used, or will have to be used in a completely different order than what you expected. Becca knew that scenario front-to-back and didn't hesitate to go to wherever was needed based upon what players did. 6) Develop the mindset that you and your players are on the same side, that you want them to succeed (but will make it challenging), and that player agency means that you are only one voice at the table. If Gygax convinced you that you are effective by being "Lord High God Of The Tableβ„’," then you are just replicating insecurity-driven social ignorance. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
  11. I personally like the idea that magic is just another term for transdimensional gateways that allow players to draw on energy from "another place or reality." It fits nicely in with the cosmic in cosmic horror.
  12. Spoilers for Mister Corbitt! I think that the historical "meta" of most Call of Cthulhu games is an overabundance of caution in investigation. Many Call of Cthulhu players learn very rapidly to tip-toe around a potential threat and gather as much information as possible before engaging with a threat directly. I think Tomazewski's function is largely to provide that major avenue of "adjacent" investigation that allows a group to "confirm this ain't normal" before deciding what to do next. Truth be told, I don't think interaction with Tomazewski is even needed at all. Most clues in this scenario are "nice to have," not "need to have." In fact, I'd argue that the only really critical clue that can't be missed at all is the little arm falling out of Corbitt's bundle at the start, indicating that somethin' ain't right here. But then it is up to investigators to want to "play along" and decide that they want to know more. And how much more is entirely up to them. Most of the other clues are there for the simple joy of clue-finding. They give details into backstory and enrich the narrative, but don't really provide any critical information. The exception might be Corbitt's journal, because it serves to show that Corbitt is doing something that could have much bigger consequences for the whole world, the idea being that groups are supposed to enter "everyday hero" mode and stop him. I think that Mister Corbitt was written during an era of role-playing in which the mentality very much seemed to be "this is how the game works and is played." And there isn't anything inherently wrong with that. Note that another way to interpret it is that it is very much an early sandbox. You can do anything you want in any order in this scenario! That was indeed still pretty uncommon, even in the early 90s. I find it absolutely fascinating how modern groups choose to contend with older scenarios. If I were to make an argument as to how the hobby has changed over time, it would be that modern gamers are much more likely to expect more freedom of agency and outcome. People refer to the "Mercer Effect" and I don't consider that to be a problem at all. When some people say "The Mercer Effect" they're really saying "I shouldn't have to get better at GMing." Matthew Mercer opening up role-playing and modelling a great game doesn't stop people from improving. People often don't like to improve and don't like things they struggle with showcased by someone in a spotlight. But people having insecurities doesn't mean that Mercer is bad for the hobby. Quite the opposite. GMs not willing to improve is bad for the hobby. I don't want to come across as knocking role-playing's early days because it is what it is and people had fun. I feel like that fun was much more structured, if we take early scenarios as the model. Early investigative scenarios seemed to follow a pretty standard progression: 1) The initial hook (somebody hires you, you witness something strange, someone is missing) 2) Intellectual investigation (newspapers, library, police station, interviews - get clues) 3) Explore a place and discover scarier clues! 4) Confrontation And that is perfectly fine. I personally would enjoy the hell out of that, despite knowing in my mind that I personally may not "arm myself with knowledge" before investigating something I was curious about. It's strategically wise, but whether a librarian would actually think to do that is debatable. Not because the librarian isn't smart, but because it is human nature to walk towards the candle flame. The counterpoint is that it is narratively fun for a lot of people! Now, as to your last point, there are many scenarios that are written that have clues that can't be missed. I'm a big believer that that is not a problem. There are techniques that Keepers have learned that allow for the narrative to progress in a fun way. You move the clues. You increase the time it takes to find a clue (increasing dramatic tension). I also want to thank you for your post because I am very much interested in meta-analysis of games! What do you think?
  13. If you followed the Calyx Actual Plays, you would have seen what I consider to be excellent exemplification by Becca Scott of how to have player decisions drive a game. The latest run, of Mister Corbitt, shows heavy deviation from the written text based upon strategic adaptation to player decisions. I discuss in this RPG Imaginings video: 1) how this Actual Play is a model for Keeper adaptive decision-making, 2) the importance of deviation from published material to run fun games and 3) how gatekeeping and the attitude that there is one "right" way to play ttrpgs continues to be a liability for the hobby that just needs to stop. Note: Spoilers for Mister Corbitt!
  14. Well said. This is also the reason why many of us disagree with the assertion made by Trail that Gumshoe "solves" the "problem" of failed skill checks grinding an investigation to a halt and making it not continuable. It was never a problem that needed solving. Interpreting critical check outcomes can determine the time it takes to find a clue, or simply indicate that it isn't found at that location. A Keeper interpreting a check result as straight success or failure is a Keeper adaptation problem, not a systemic mechanics problem. And that is the key for this thread: All Keepers can improve at the speed and decision-making they use to interpret rolls in the moment.
  15. Yep, this is another way to do it. Different groups react differently to "secret rolling" versus "spam rolling." Both are ways to manage fog-of-war!
  16. See this thread: There are only certain conditions under which Opposed rolls occur. Stealth and Listen are examples of a skill that specifies how difficulty levels are set by an opponent's skill level. Note that for most skill checks, whether or not you feel that there is someone in counterbalance to the situation, you just set a difficulty level based upon the circumstances. True "opposed rolls," where the difficulty becomes whatever level of success the NPC rolled, are things like combat or spell-generated opposed POW rolls. If a player wants to "do a thing" with a skill or characteristic, they are the only ones doing the rolling, unless the rules specify otherwise. The guard's Listen skill level, not their roll, sets the difficulty. From the rulebook: "Regular difficulty: hearing something approaching you (with a Stealth skill of below 50); eavesdropping on a nearby conversation. Hard difficulty: hearing something creep up on you (with a Stealth skill of 50 to 89); eavesdropping on whispered conversation." The guard isn't even rolling. An "opposed roll" in the game happens when antagonists to each other both roll dice (combat, POW, STR). The Investigator is the only one making a roll in this case. If the guard is 50+ in Listen, and the investigator isn't, the Stealth roll difficulty is harder. In this case, the Keeper just rolls for the investigator in secret. That makes sense. Would you tell an investigator "someone is trying to sneak past you, roll Listen." Nope. Under these circumstances, the Keeper asks for the investigator's Listen and Spot Hidden skills at the start of their "guard period." Ideally an investigator would never know whether a Keeper rolled or not. It is narratively appropriate to have "fog of war" over the actions of the NPC. I'd rule the difficulty in this particular case as being Regular because both the Investigator is good at Listening, and the NPC is good at Stealthing. Their skill levels balance each other. Jumping something to Hard difficulty happens when there is an imbalance of skill. Call of Cthulhu encourages Keepers to adjudicate situations in the ways that make the most sense. Yes, you will encounter situations in which the rules do not give you a definitive way of calling something. But the key here is that all of the individual rule suggestions are all true simultaneously. Yes, the rules say that 50+ sets higher difficulties for some skills. Yes, the rules say that "investigators should be the ones doing the rolling." Yes, the rules specify certain circumstances in which "opposed rolls" happen. Your example isn't one of them. When you combine those together with a situation that has two 50+ skills that are interacting but the investigator is the one rolling, there is no "higher skill," so Regular is the difficulty, in my view. Hopefully that helps!
  17. Way too brutal. You roll one roll in the 90s and their entire Luck stat could be wiped out. It's a "gotcha" item that players have no way of consciously avoiding, other than just choosing not to pick it up. If your goal is for your players to hate you, do it. I recommend that not be your goal. The base concept is good. But rather than have it "spend all the Luck required to succeed," alter it to have a balanced consequence: 1) Failed roll, lose 1d10 Luck. 2) POW roll: as before. I also wouldn't do something like this without having it kick off a series of steps that the players could take to figure out how to remove it.
  18. Many Mythos monsters take 1 or no damage from handguns. The system itself limits the power of any Investigator, even in Pulp.
  19. It doesn't disappoint me at all. You all are human beings and your customers should respect that. There is a cruel tendency within the hobby for people to be "handed money and complain about how it is folded." Or insert "never look a gift horse in the mouth," if you prefer.
  20. Hiya folks, I'm interested in opinions on GM utility comparisons between the older Arkham Unveiled (which I have a complete copy) versus the more recent H. P. Lovecraft's Arkham. Prices on HPL's Arkham are collector level: around 75.00 - 100.00 USD. I also have a copy of Miskatonic University, which gives a great wealth of info about the campus and surrounds. My questions for all of you are: 1) Do you feel the changes to the basics of Arkham itself warrant spending an uncomfortable amount on a book? Phrased another way: Is it really that different/better? 2) The Book of Uncle Silas is the only different scenario. I'm expecting that art was probably updated on the others. Is this new scenario and the updates to the old ones justification alone for collector's prices? These questions are focused on GM utility. I'm not a completionist collector. Thoughts? I know opinions will vary. I'm interested in a breadth of them!
  21. Link set to skip right to CoC unboxings, but if you're interested in Space Scoundrels too, feel free to start from the beginning!
  22. Your initial list says that it doesn't include "classic" supplements. People who are interested in reprints will find them. The strength of your thread is that 7E books are what is likely driving Chaosium's profits from CoC (and therefore the money needed to develop more products), so I think it appropriate to keep the thread 7E exclusive. We'll get a 7E version of BtMoM eventually.
  23. This is at the top of my "old campaigns impossible to find" list.
  24. I understand that you are frustrated and I respect why you are frustrated. Chaosium does not have any control over shipping. Shipping has been compromised in the world right now, mostly because of the pandemic. Being from the States, I can't comment intelligently on Brexit's effect. Regardless, there are logical reasons why the books aren't available in the UK, and none of them have anything to do with Chaosium. Blaming Chaosium for factors out of their control doesn't get UK buyers the books any faster.
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