Quotes from the Game

“So, how’s the party doing?”

“They’re dealing with the new Slayer’s disbelief”

“Apparently the normal method is to have Donald Sutherland start chucking knives at her.”

Pacifism

I’ve been levelling a druid in WoW as a pacifist–basically, I don’t kill anything.  (Well, except fish.) This involves a lot of sneaking, and a lot of corpse-running, and doing maybe 10% of the possible quests because there are really very few quests that don’t involve killing anything–and a bunch of those are part of chains that start with killing something, so no go there.

Pacifist levelling used to have a cap somewhere in the high 20s, because that was all the XP you could get from non-lethal questing and the token amount from exploration.  These days, you can in theory go all the way to 85 on XP from gathering and, if you have Cataclysm, archaeology.  Gathering from a level-appropriate node gives XP of about 1% of a level; digging up an artifact gives maybe half again as much.   And since extra herb and metal nodes were introduced, it’s rarely more than a minute or so between gathers.

It’s vastly slower, though.  Took me 3 and a half hours to get to level 5 as a pacifist; for a normal character it’s, what, 15 minutes?  I think the slowdown is getting less as I advance in level, but it’s never going to go away completely.   The upside is that two gathering professions means the character is really, really rich.

It’s kind of a neat experiment.  I don’t know if I’m going to remain interested all the way to 85–I haven’t gotten that far with any other character besides Altariel anyway–but for now it’s entertaining.

Geek Talk

I Am A: Chaotic Good Human Bard (4th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength-13
Dexterity-12
Constitution-14
Intelligence-14
Wisdom-12
Charisma-13

Alignment:
Chaotic Good A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society. Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit. However, chaotic good can be a dangerous alignment because it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Bards often serve as negotiators, messengers, scouts, and spies. They love to accompany heroes (and villains) to witness heroic (or villainous) deeds firsthand, since a bard who can tell a story from personal experience earns renown among his fellows. A bard casts arcane spells without any advance preparation, much like a sorcerer. Bards also share some specialized skills with rogues, and their knowledge of item lore is nearly unmatched. A high Charisma score allows a bard to cast high-level spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Digging Things Up

I am desperately in love with archaeology.  Most of my playing time since Cataclysm hit has been spent flying places and digging things up.  I haven’t gotten anything “useful” yet–no mounts, weapons, or pets–but I’m having a whole lot of fun with it.

To heck with Loremaster.  I can work on quests once my skill is maxed out.

Guaranteed Not to Break

The patch yesterday broke WoW on my computer.  I’ve done about a quarter of the suggested fixes, and none have worked yet; I would have done more, but I needed to, you know, sleep.  So this evening I’m going to have to try again.  I’d ask Liam to go after it, but he’s in the middle of his own update fun and I think it’d be a bad idea, especially since his bad patch is actually on the OS of his computer rather than just a game…

Ding Dong…

Last night my ICC 10 team succeeded in taking down Sindragosa.  Finally.  After about 6 months of trying.

Per tradition, I died early in the 3rd phase of the fight (though I lasted longer than usual due to being in an ice block for the first iteration of her “pull everyone in and AoE” attack).  I clicked on her and watched her hit points go down…and suddenly I realized she was under 1.5 million, and no one else had died.  And it kept going.  And she got under a million.  And then, that was it.

We all cheered.  Someone rezzed me.  We took a group shot around her head.  I got [Rimetooth Pendant] out of the deal (sorry Bleu!), which is pretty much the best hunter neck piece.

This means all we have to do is kill the Blood Queen, by all accounts an easier fight than Sindragosa, and then we can start chewing glass on Arthas.

Gaming Con

I would like to go to one.  There’s even one a buddy of mine will be at in about a month and a half.  But it is less than clear to me that I really want to drive 11+ hours one way–it’d be OK on the way out, but coming back after three days of gaming till 4am?  Not so much.

Plus, in early November there’s always the chance of lake-effect snow–sure, it’s not terribly likely, but it’s possible, and most of the route is in the snow band.

Indistinguishable From Technology

So here’s the thing about D&D: it makes no sense. None. Don’t get me wrong, I like it and all, but the world as presented is completely wrong-wrong-wrongity-wrong, and the new Pathfinder setting (much though I enjoy it) has done nothing to change that.

You wanna know why?  One word: magic.

Magic in D&D is reasonably common, which is bad enough, but what’s worse is that it’s reliable.  If you cast magic missile more than once, the only difference between castings is precisely how much damage you’ll do, and even that will vary only within strict limits.  Which is bad enough.

Where magic gets really bad, though, is in the utility stuff.  Don’t tell me that a world that has fireball lacks, say, a spell to keep food from spoiling, a spell to make a roof more weathertight, or a spell to keep bugs out.  And given that even the smallest town is likely to have a person who can at least use level 1 spells, life in a D&D universe should not look much at all like the pseudo-medieval setting it generally defaults to.

I mean, consider continual flame.  A magic item that can cast it at will would cost 10,800 gp and take 11 days to make; it produces items (gravel-sized stones would be great) that appear to burn but need no fuel or oxygen and never go out.  And then the city that made it could have streetlights for the cost of whatever they’re mounted on, requiring no fuel or maintenance, and easily replaced if stolen.  And could start exporting “flaming” stones for a little over the cost of shipping…assuming anyone could be coerced into buying them.  Everyone in town could have all the light they needed, and trust me when I say that that mere fact is enough to make a lot more work and production possible. 

How about teleportation circle? It costs 1000 gold to inscribe, and the circle’s only 10 feet in diameter.  More to the point, you need a 17th level caster for it.  But you can make it permanent, and then you have a circle big enough to drive a largish wagon into that will send your cargo to the destination instantly.  I can see a wizard retiring from adventuring and going around to cities and large towns, offering them teleportation circles to other places for, say, a couple months’ worth of room and board.  It’d only take a decade or two before a whole continent would have a transport network that would put the US Interstate system to shame.  Pretty soon people would start doing it for destinations inside large cities, and then you don’t even have to walk through rush hour anymore.

Cure light wounds? No more crippling injuries from stupid accidents.  Purify food and drink means no one gets sick from food gone off.  For that matter, a 5th level cleric can feed 15 people a day with one casting of create food and water, which means famine not so much.  Repel vermin, made permanent, means one can sleep without worrying about lice, mosquitos, bedbugs, or any of the other disease-carrying bugs of the world.  And if you get malaria, the cleric can fix that, too, so no need for sickle-cell.

If you can summon and bind fire elementals, you can make steam engines that require no fuel.  Unseen servant can do drudge work like cleaning or weaving, freeing up humans to do creative things.  With a decanter of endless water, deserts can be easily made fertile; with a bottle of air, mining is no longer such a dangerous job…assuming you actually mine, instead of getting your iron from the wall of iron spell.  Anyway, just get a druid to stone shape the shafts.

Sure, people might not think of all these things immediately, but it wouldn’t take long; we monkeys are always looking for ways to do less work.  And a magic-driven world would be cleaner and safer than a technology-driven one, because magic doesn’t produce waste.

New Experiences

I have never played a paladin before in WoW, and now a friend and I are leveling pallys together.  The idea is that when we get to a level for it, we’ll start doing randoms as a tank/healer pair, thus guaranteeing queue times of approximately as long as it takes the “Find Group” button’s message to reach the server.

We’re at 5th level now, which means we’ve still got like three powers apiece, but it should be entertaining when we start getting talents and whatnot; I’ve got a good idea of what talents are good for a healer-pally, and my buddy’s played a human paladin so often he says he could do the Deadmines* in his sleep.  I’ve even done enough research to find out what stats are good.

I am having some of my usual “This character is not a hunter” problems, starting with “Where are my minimap dots?  Why can’t I see where the mobs are?!”   And hunters are all about ranged attacks, while paladins have, essentially, no ranged attacks, so that’s going to be interesting to get used to.  At least I don’t have to do my own tanking, though.

* The first Alliance dungeon, and pretty much every quest leading up to it is in human territory.

Forging Onward

Some of you may know about the Forge, a forum for independent RPG designers.  For several years, the Forge has had some areas in which one could talk about game theory–why is it that some games work and some games don’t, what’s the difference between two die mechanics, that sort of thing.  Those bits of the site have closed, which has led to some discussion in indie-rpg circles, and it helped crystallize something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

The short version is: I don’t like the Forge, and I like its creator Ron Edwards even less.

The long version: I try hard not to look down on people for having “unsophisticated” tastes.  I think, for example, that car racing is possibly the world’s most boring activity, but that doesn’t mean that I think people who enjoy it are somehow inferior.  Ron doesn’t seem to have that circuit–that is, the one that tells him that what he likes is not the same thing as what is good, or what other people can like.

Now, before I get much further, I’d like to point out that I would dearly love to try Dogs in the Vineyard or Primetime Adventures or some of the others.  The Mountain Witch and My Life With Master strike me as unfun, but I think that has a lot to do with their settings (samurai bearding a demon in its lair and Igor And Friends Kill Frankenstein, respectively).

In any case, I can’t say how many times I saw something on the Forge that involved someone posting something they thought was fun, only to be informed that it was dysfunctional and immature (but they were still free to have “fun” with it if they liked, no one was going to stop them, oh no).  Or someone would say, “Gee, all these terribly avant-garde games you guys’re coming up with don’t really work for my group,” and someone else would reply that the first person’s group was either 1) playing the new games wrong, 2) composed of gamers (poor little things) who’d been trained into bad habits by mainstream games, or 3) both.  To which I say, bite me–could it be, instead, that your games are not the One True Way, and that people who don’t like them are, perchance, just in posession of different preferences?

Take, for example, D&D.  It’s hard to dispute that the game at its core is about killing things and taking their stuff.  One wonders why the Forge thinks that you can’t have Story in and around that.  Heck, the lack of discrete mechanisms for such things actually makes it easier, in a way: there’s no allocating of scarce Narrative Power Points or whatever, you just look at the GM and say, “I go to the entrance of the escape tunnel from the palace” and the GM, recognizing that this is cool, replies, “OK, it’s in a storefront a few blocks away.”  And yes, that’s an example from personal experience.

Then there was the Forge’s preference for the practical.  If you weren’t designing your own rpg, or at least playing one that someone one the forum had designed, your opinion, bluntly, didn’t matter.  Because, of course, no one who’s not a designer can have any insight into how games work, no matter how much they have played, right?  This one’s going to get worse now that the theory forum’s closed; if you aren’t a designer, there’s just no reason to go there anymore.  Clearly the collective wisdom of the Forge needs no further enhancement, right?  The stated reason for closing the forums is to cause theory discussion to metastitize (which I know I’ve spelled wrong), spreading out into other places on the net.  Which, yeah, sure, that’ll happen…

I suppose this isn’t very coherent, and can be justly ripped apart for that.  But I think that some of its core points are things that indie rpg designers should keep in mind: some of us like killing things and taking their stuff, at the same time that we like having drama and narrative interest.  That doesn’t make us dysfunctional, it makes us complex.