11 February 2012

Angry Birds boss doesn’t see app piracy as a problem | iMore

Angry Birds boss doesn’t see app piracy as a problem | iMore

We have some issues with piracy, not only in apps, but also especially in the consumer products. There is tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which is not officially licensed products

Worrying about knock-offs merchandise is the same kind of mistake as worrying about piracy.

Concentrate on providing the best products and services for your customers. Stop worrying about what other people are doing. Unless they are doing what you do better than you do it.

And then, the answer is not to think about how you can sue them or lobby for a law that will allow you to sue them.

The answer is to do what you do better than they do it. Trying to arbitrarily restrict other people’s freedom is admitting that you can’t compete.

10 February 2012

Unintelligent D&D

In my classic D&D games, ability scores...

...can provide an XP bonus (or penalty).

...give a bonus (or penalty) to certain rolls. Strength modifiers melee “to hit” and damage. Dexterity modifier AC and ranged “to hit”. Wisdom I allow to modify all saves. Constitution modifiers hit points. Charisma modifiers reaction rolls.

...can be used for ad hoc “ability checks” to resolve actions.

Intelligence does the first for mages. You may notice intelligence is missing from the second. I never call for an intelligence check. So, if I drop the XP modifier for prime requisites, intelligence doesn’t really do anything and isn’t really needed. And I was never really attached to the XP modifiers.

09 February 2012

The future of the Mac

The iOS-ification Of Apple’s Ecosystem

It does indeed look like the Mac is going to start looking more and more like iOS. Honestly, that makes me uncomfortable.

A key to the success of the iPhone and iPad is that they didn’t try to shoehorn desktop/laptop software onto the palmtop/tablet. I think the same logic holds that what is good for the palmtop/tablet isn’t necessarily good for the desktop/laptop.

(If I had my druthers, the iPad would be called a laptop and MacBooks would be called mobile desktops.)

Apple does recognize this. They’ve said that their research showed touch-screens don’t work well for desktop/laptop systems. But, still, they seem to be carrying “back to the Mac” farther than I’m comfortable with.

But that’s OK.

The reason I don’t have a Linux or *BSD system in the house anymore is simply that the Macs can do pretty much everything Linux can do. Perhaps as the Mac becomes more like iOS, I’ll have a reason to bring Linux back into the house.

It may even be that someday I won’t even have a Mac. The iPad and the Linux box will split everything that I used to use my Mac for.

08 February 2012

RPG survey @ B/X Blackrazor

B/X Blackrazor is conducting a survey of people who have ever played a tabletop/face-to-face role-playing game.

07 February 2012

My classic D&D two-weapon fighting rule

(I mean “guideline”, not “rule”. There are no rules, only guidelines)

I’ve written many times that I do not find a second attack to model anything well in D&D. Especially two-weapon fighting.

First, let’s be clear that I’m (mostly) not including “shield” as a weapon here. D&D already has rules for shields, and I’m—currently—not interested in changing that.

There’s an argument to be made that two-weapon fighting was actually pretty rare in real life, so it is OK if the game doesn’t support it. A character can still carry two weapons attacking with either one each round. There are even some advantages to doing that if the weapons are different.

I believe, however, that there really is an advantage to fighting with two weapons, and I want my game to reflect that. I don’t, however, want two-weapon fighting to be so good that a player is foolish not to choose it. (And the benefits of a free hand should also be considered!)

So, this is the rule:

When fighting with two weapons, for each attack the player designates a primary weapon. The attack is resolved as if the character is only wielding the primary weapon but with a +1 “to hit”. Fighting with two weapons does not grant any additional attacks.

If asked to rationalize it, I will do it so thusly: I actually believe that a second weapon most often plays a defensive role. But…this tends to be less static blocks or parries so much as creating an opening for the primary weapon. Of course, D&D combat is abstract, so such rationalizations are always suspect.

Also, I’m not entirely convinced that the specific secondary weapon makes much difference. They each have advantages and disadvantages. This rule doesn’t penalize a player for choosing to use a longer (more expensive) second weapon, but neither does it penalize a player for choosing a shorter/cheaper second weapon.

We will also “reskin” the dagger as a buckler:

A buckler is the same price as a dagger. It is treated as a second weapon rather than as a shield, so it gives the above +1 “to hit”. The wielder also has the option of treating the buckler as a primary weapon (a buckler bash) doing d4 damage.

06 February 2012

My classic D&D melee weapons: Commentary

@StvWinter: Harking back to #dnd B/X. 1H wpns did 1d6, 2H did 1d8. A dwarf got no + for using ax, no - for using sword. Clean.

I started to look at the B/X weapons similar to my previous look at the Labyrinth Lord weapons. I decided, though, to make a flow chart to help players choose a weapon. I didn’t finish. It seemed much too complex. And backwards.

I want weapon choice to be 90% roleplaying and 10% weapon stats. Sure, there advantages and disadvantages between a sword, a mace, an axe, and warhammer. But those differences are more subtle than the D&D combat system.

On the other hand, I don’t want it to be too abstract either. There should, e.g., be some mechanical trade-off to choosing a two-handed weapon. I also don’t want weapons to feel too different from what I know about real medieval weapons. And I want a weapon’s price to reflect its value in the game.

Generic weapons—where the player “buys” the stats and provides their own description—also helps represent the great variety of weapons. Not only different types of weapons, but the variations within a type.

I looked at the weapons in Lamenations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-playing. I like its choices a lot, but decided to tweak some things differently.

I should probably touch on variable damage by weapon. I’ve been a big fan of the B/X (by the book) standard d6 for all weapons. I also believe that—all other things being equal—the longer weapon has the advantage. So, I kept looking at different ways to model that. Then I realized that B/X’s optional (but de facto standard) variable damage by weapon does that just fine. After all, “damage” in D&D is abstract. A bigger damage die just represents some abstract advantage.

I still like the idea of variable damage by class or a damage cap by class, but I think the variable hit die by class handles class differences enough.

So, I didn’t end up with anything quite as simple and clean as Steve’s summary, but we’ll see how it goes.

RPGs are war

My first thoughts on the “combat as sport vs. combat as war” topic...

Here’s the difference between a sport and a war:

In a sport, each side agrees to a set of rules. If you don’t follow the rules, it is called a foul, and a penalty is assessed. Or it’s called cheating.

In war, there are no fouls; there is no cheating. When some group gets too set in their ways about “how war should be fought”, some other side comes along as defeats them by ignoring those rules.

(We do try to come up with fouls and cheating in war. e.g. The Geneva conventions. But that doesn’t help you win. You have to win first and then try to enforce those rules. If the side that wins finds it’s in their interest to ignore such rules... In any case, honoring them is about longer-term concerns.)

Most conventional games resemble “combat as sport”. Role-playing games, however...

For me, “combat is war” is easy in a role-playing game, but “combat as sport” is hard. I have to introduce things that interfere with some of the aspects of role-playing games most important to me. Such as “player agency” and “tactical infinity”. (Sorry, I don’t have good links to explain those terms.) Even then, it’s tough to balance on every axis enough to make sure it’s sporting. Sporting combats tend to happen more by chance than design.

(Though, I think superhero games manage to do the “sport” angle a lot.)

The comparisons to literature in the original article seem particularly apt. When you take a character out of a story and give that role to a person to play with the freedom to find creative solutions, they start looking for strategic solutions. It’s the same as the “how it should have ended” videos.

In any case, I definitely prefer “combat as war” in my role-playing games whether as judge or player. The hard part is that—as judge—you may have to have or improvise more stuff when the players find creative ways to short-circuit something you thought would take a while. But I’d rather reward strategic thinking than make things easier on myself.

05 February 2012

My classic D&D melee weapons

Here is my list of melee weapons for classic D&D—with damage, price, and parenthetical notes:

  • Unarmed d2, free
  • Torch d3, 6 for 1sp
  • Club d4, 3sp
  • Dagger (quickdraw) d4, 3sp
  • Silver dagger (quickdraw) d4, 30sp
  • Buckler d4, 3sp
  • Quarterstaff (requires 2 hands) d6, 2sp
  • Lance d6 (2d6 on a charging mount), 5sp
  • Small weapon d6, 5sp
    • axe, kopesh, sickle
  • Small blade (quickdraw) d6, 7sp
    • baselard, gladius, seax, xiphos
  • Medium weapon d6 (d8 if used 2-handed), 7sp
    • axe, flail, mace, morning star, spear, trident, warhammer
  • Medium blade (quickdraw) d6 (d8 if used 2-handed), 10sp
    • arming sword, falchion, flamberge, sabre, scimitar, spatha
  • Large weapon (requires 2 hands) d10, 7sp
    • axe, goedendag, maul, pole arm
  • Large blade (requires 2 hands) d10, 15sp
    • estoc, flamberge, claymore, longsword

“Quickdraw” means that the weapon (daggers & swords) comes with a scabbard. These weapons can be drawn and used for an attack in the same round. Other weapons, if not in hand, require a round to ready. (I’m using 10 second rounds.)

When buying a generic weapon (in italics above), the player must specify the specific weapon it represents. I have given some examples, but if you don’t like them, call it whatever you wish. (The other weapons could be “reskinned” too.)

Note that I’m using a “silver standard” here. Read the prices in gp instead of sp for regular “gold standard” games.

Also note that I do not use the rule that two-handed weapons automatically lose initiative.

No encumbrance values are listed because I use a freeform encumbrance rule.

I also plan on dropping most class-based weapon restrictions, though dwarfs and halflings will still have restrictions.

If it seems odd to have buckler listed as a weapon instead of a shield, well...it is. But a forthcoming house rule on two-weapon fighting will explain it.

Credit where credit is due...

The quickdraw bit was stolen from Original Edition Delta.

Generic weapons are inspired by Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-playing.

Upcoming posts will provide commentary on this, two-weapon fighting, and thrown/missile weapons.

04 February 2012

D&D sacred cows

With a new edition of D&D in the works, I’m thinking about what my sacred cows are. What are the things without which D&D isn’t being what I want it to be?

Reliable but limited magic: I don’t mind magical mishaps being in the game, but it should be the exception rather the the rule. Merlin didn’t get his rep by failing to levitate a Stonehenge megalith 20% of the times he tried and failing spectacularly 5% of the time. But when the Sorcerer’s Apprentice goes messing with stuff he’s not ready for, he might suffer some consequences.

But I don’t want reliable to become unlimited. I’ll take the 3e crossbow sorcerer over the 4e raygun wizard every time.

From what I know about D&D next so far, I don’t expect this to be a problem.

Thief skills: This is an area where my opinion has definitely changed. I used to think of thief skills as general skills, so I wanted a general skill system instead. Now, I see thief skills as special, and I prefer not having a general skill system. (See On thief skills in classic D&D)

And I’ve actually come to like the AD&D secondary skills.

Possibly the one thing that keeps me from declaring Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-playing my “go to” version of D&D is the skill system. (Even though it is pretty “old school” for such.)

3e lost the special rogue skills in favor of its general skill system, which made the rogue less interesting a class to me. It is also an example of the lack of modularity in 3e. The rogue was built on the skill system, and the fighter was built on the feat system, which means you have to think harder before ignoring either subsystem.

It will be interesting to see how D&D next handles this. In any case, there may be a very simple workaround. I think I could be happy just dropping the thief/rogue/specialist class altogether.

Less systemized magic: When stepping up from Expert D&D to Advanced, spells got a bit more systemized. There were more details filled in for you, and there were more spells. For the most part, though, I find the AD&D spells brought a lot of inspiration and less systemization.

2e started systemizing even more. And not the kind of “let’s give every spell a casting time” sort of systemization. More like, “Shouldn’t there be a spell with an effect between these two?” And, “We have fire and water versions, so we should add earth and air versions as well.”

3e continued with both 1e and 2e kinds of systemizations.

I prefer the classic D&D spells. I can work with the 1e spells. Past that, though, and I get less happy. I’m really interested in whether D&D next will address this at all.

(Actually, I really like the Coda system Lord of the Rings spells, but haven’t gotten around to trying to adapt them into D&D.)

Of course, I’ll be perfectly happy to skip D&D next if I’d find it harder to bend to my will than sticking with classic D&D.

03 February 2012

Create food & water in Labyrinth Lord

In AD&D, Create Food & Water is a 3rd level cleric spell. It provides food for three people per level of the caster. The 3rd level spells-per-day for a cleric maxes out at nine at 19th level. A 19th level cleric could support 513 people. Note also, however, that the casting time has increased to 10 minutes. (The Expert book doesn’t list a casting time, so I presume that it is 10 seconds—i.e. 1 combat round.)

In Labyrinth Lord (both the base game and the AEC), Create Food & Water is a 4th level cleric spell. It only provides for three people regardless of the level of caster. So, a 20th level LL cleric, with six 4th level spells per day, could only support 18 people.

Note that both here and for my earlier Expert D&D (1981) numbers, I’m treating the cleric’s spells-per-day limit as a strict daily limit. If the rules or DM allows for re-prep’ing spells within a day then even more people could be supported, but at the cost of a lot of the cleric’s time.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-playing lacks such a spell.

02 February 2012


So, I’m sitting here polishing up some blog posts. I’m grabbing URLs to create hyperlinks. And it strikes me...

It’s taking me longer to create these hyperlinks than it will take you to select some text, search Google, and get to the same page. Not only that, the hyperlinks might grow stale, but a Google search won’t. Heck, Google might turn up more relevant results than what I choose to link to the moment I post. Even after Google, some other even better search engine will be available. For all I know, what you’ll really be interested in following up on won’t even be anything I create a hyperlink for.

Google is making hyperlinks obsolete. But Google is built on hyperlinks. It’s only by analyzing hyperlinks that Google can come up with such good results.


Edition wars

If I have ever offended anyone when discussing differences between editions of D&D, I hereby apologize. That was never my intention, though I can have a hard time seeing someone else’s point-of-view.

01 February 2012

D&D Next Classes

From EN World: What We Know About “D&D Next”:

The goal at the moment is to include all the classes that were in the first PH style book for each edition.

Surely someone else has already compiled this list, but since I didn’t find it, I compiled it myself.

Note that many classes appeared first in a supplement for a previous edition. I’m not listing the first appearance of each class. I’m listing its first appearance in Men & Magic or a Players Handbook (first PHB for editions with multiple PHBs).

In the non-advanced line, you had race-classes and the Mystic. Race-classes aren’t included because it seems that D&D next isn’t going that direction. The Mystic, rightly or wrongly, I’m counting as Monk.

AD&D2e had the “specialist wizard” & “specialist priest” which I am also omitting from this list.

  • Assassin (1e PHB)
  • Barbarian (3e PHB)
  • Bard (2e PHB; optional 1e PHB)
  • Cleric (0e Men & Magic)
  • Druid (1e PHB)
  • Fighting-man/Fighter (0e Men & Magic)
  • Illusionist (1e PHB)
  • Magic-user/Mage/Wizard (0e Men & Magic)
  • Monk (1e PHB)
  • Paladin (1e PHB)
  • Ranger (1e PHB)
  • Sorcerer (3e PHB)
  • Thief/Rogue (1e PHB; the Holmes Basic Set)
  • Warlock (4e PHB)
  • Warlord (4e PHB)

For a grand total of 15 classes. Though I think there is the possibility of some of them being combined.

Note that a Psion class was also mentioned in the D&D Experience seminars.

Here they are in roughly chronological order...

  • Cleric (0e Men & Magic)
  • Fighting-man/Fighter (0e Men & Magic)
  • Magic-user/Mage/Wizard (0e Men & Magic)
  • Thief/Rogue (1e PHB; the Holmes Basic Set)
  • Assassin (1e PHB)
  • Druid (1e PHB)
  • Illusionist (1e PHB)
  • Monk (1e PHB)
  • Paladin (1e PHB)
  • Ranger (1e PHB)
  • Bard (2e PHB; optional 1e PHB)
  • Barbarian (3e PHB)
  • Sorcerer (3e PHB)
  • Warlock (4e PHB)
  • Warlord (4e PHB)