Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: Battlefield Wizards, Sabine Women, and Overselling 5e D&D

AD&D (Don’t Split the Party) Why Wizards Don’t Suck on the Battlefield — “The party got into an altercation and the visiting player cast Mirror Image, then Shield. The he drew a dagger and closed with the front line, doing very well for himself and helping turn the tide. This led Lew to discuss the idea of Pocket Quarterbacks vs. Fran Tarkenton. Wizards who stay in the middle of the formation and lob spells over his defenders = pocket quarterback. Guys like the visitor who wander around both casting and fighting are Fran Tarkenton (look him up, kids).”

History (Black Gate) Ancient Worlds: The Sabine Women, or How Not to Get Married — “And on one hand, you have to love that kind of irreverence. You have to respect someone willing to thumb their nose at absolute power. But as much as I love the poet, I don’t love his means. In order to do that thumbing he’s standing on top of a group of terrified women. Those Sabine girls may have been seven hundred years dead, but their legacy lived on, and we cannot forget that Rome was at that very moment filled with carried-off German, British, Gallic, Israelite and North African women who really wouldn’t have appreciated the joke. Because that’s the problem with using rape casually in fiction. You are using a very real suffering to make a point, even if in a fictional context. And before anyone says, ‘That was two thousand years ago!’ I would like to offer this: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, or, The Sobbin’ Women, which was released as a major motion picture in 1954. Same joke, more or less, cleaned up for mass consumption. These tropes are insidious, and it is their very antiquity that makes them such a problem. Their comforting familiarity makes them all that much harder to fight off.”

Science Fiction (Lew Rockwell) The High Church of Science Fiction and Tor — “The fallout from that event still has not settled, and the awards won’t even be announced until August. But the reaction makes it obvious that there is a sizable percentage of science fiction fandom that is ‘not satisfied with the products and services being offered.’ Entrepreneurs have a name for this situation– ‘market opportunity.’ However, to date, it appears that only Castallia House is focused on providing science fiction for this segment of the market; they have even signed a new deal with legendary writer Jerry Pournelle.”

Appendix N (Castalia House) Jhereg — “Moorcock has written some good stories but his world building has something to be desired. I burned out on Moorcock pretty quick back in the day. As The Encyclopedia of Fantasy said: ‘There is a smell of greasepaint to the Michael Moorcock oeuvre.'”

D&D (Cirsova) Why Did Everyone Oversell 5e’s Old School Appeal? — “While there was some fun roleplaying stuff we did among ourselves, the game itself seems more of a case where a group of variously powered individuals are thrown against a puzzle in the form of an elaborate encounter drawn from the monster manual. Players must figure out how to use their powers effectively against the monster to solve the puzzle of beating it (the riddle of steel? Nah) before time(HP) runs out. It feels like a supers game dressed up as a heroic fantasy. It is maybe the right system for the wrong genre, but it doesn’t feel like the Dungeons & Dragons I enjoy.”

Hippie Watch (Daily Beast) Lakota Warriors Vow to Crush Dirty Rainbow Hippies — “We’re a warrior society. We don’t want violence, but this is our culture, our sacredness and we will protect it.”

ACKS (Autarch) Law & Economics, or Players Respond to Incentives — “In ACKS, adventurers who establish a domain can make profits from the domain, and in doing so, they can earn XP to advance their character. Contrast this to the Mentzer Companion rules, which sharply limited the XP gain from domains, and, worse, made domains inherently unprofitable – this was purposeful, in order to force the characters to keep adventuring to support their domain. But players don’t need incentives to keep adventuring – adventuring yields gold, magic items, and XP, which are the three main incentives of the game. What players need (if domains are desired by the game designer) are incentives to build and run domains. The lack of reward structure for domain management has been one of the main reasons that domains have been the province of retirement, not action, in past fantasy RPGs.”

Comics (Sidekickcast) The Golden Age of Awesome: Cloak & Dagger #1 — “I have to think this was the darkest book Marvel had on the shelf in 1983, at least the darkest taking place in the mainstream Marvel Universe. Here are two characters that had horrible things done to them as children by evil men, now returned to the same den of evil to punish that type of men. They aren’t looking for those that did this is them, they just want to punish people like that. Vengeance, but presented here with a soul.”

Game Design (Violent Resolution) Guns . . . Lots of guns — “Really, in this group of game systems there’s GURPS, and then there’s ‘everyone else’ in terms of how detailed and differentiated a weapon’s stat list can be. GURPS goes out of its way to provide differentiation and mechanical support for very (very, very, very) fine resolution in why a player might choose to pick one weapon over another. The (endless and eternal) debate over the 9mm vs the .45ACP that has been waged for years can be waged in GURPS as well. The 9mm has more penetration, while the .45ACP does more injury.”

D&D (Jeff’s Gameblog) passing remarks on giants — “If you run BX and your overland map lacks a quaint pastoral village of 14’ tall rock people living in stone-thatched huts then you need to rethink your life decisions.”

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