Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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34 Responses

  1. Avatar aarondavid says:

    5th edition? OSR all the way, give me no edition, OD&D!

    Well, I spent the day on the phone with Microsoft, trying to figure out why my Office 365 download wouldn’t work. 3 hours to tell me that someone else was using the same product key, and I would have to go back to the place I bought the computer to get it fixed. I am not a fan of downloads any more. Great until something goes wrong, and then you are in phone tree hell.

    I will be out looking for vintage bicycle parts, and trying to actually spend time with my wife this weekend.Report

  2. Avatar Maribou says:

    I’ve worked enough in the past few weeks that I have this Friday off. 4 day weekend. Woot.

    I plan to spend it mostly recuperating. I also have a boatload of overdue-or-nearly library books, and maybe I’ll do some chores.

    I’m getting so excited about Ant-Man that I’m consciously working at lowering my expectations, so I’ll be dragging Jay to it either Friday or Sunday – and Saturday, as described above, is gaming.Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      OH YEAH. Also I am planning on doing a bunch of Hugo reading/voting this weekend. Already did novel, graphic story, short and long form editor, and fan artist, but that leaves hella more stuff to peruse.Report

  3. Avatar Murali says:

    5th edition rules look awesome. I’m just waiting for them to make a computer game based on it so that I could get it. If you have noticed, a fighter /paladin combination can get quite broken in terms of what can be done in battle.Report

  4. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Once upon a time, a +2 sword was awesome until you started fighting creatures with +2 armor, at which point you might as well have been a level 0 fighting gnolls again. It’s more important that you get better than that your stuff does.

    Could you elaborate on that? That’s just how the RPG treadmill works, isn’t it? The alternative is that the game just gets easier as you progress, which is backwards. Or do you mean that you gain new abilities that impact gameplay in ways other than making numbers bigger?Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      I would think the latter. Good RPG systems generally expand your options as you progress in levels.

      A higher level character has more flexibility in approaching a problem, whether it’s the ability to move in different ways (bypassing obstacles with flight or travelling through the earth) or being able to use high charisma or diplomatic skills, or simply having abilities that can shape the fight. Standing there slinging basic attacks at each other gets..boring. It’s okay when you’re level 1, but you don’t want to be level 10 with exactly the same options — except now you do 10x damage but they have 10x life.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Yeah, exactly. The emphasis on stuff becomes an emphasis on min/maxing and you’re constantly thinking about getting a plus +3 sword the second you get your hands on the +2 one.Report

  5. Avatar Alan Scott says:

    So, 5th ed hasn’t really grabbed the local gaming community around here. For the new planescape (2nd ed d&d setting) game I’m running, I gave the players a choice of several different systems.

    The Consesus was 13th age–which has some interesting mechanics that will tie in well to the Planescape factions.Report

  6. Avatar Reformed Republican says:

    My fiancee and I have been regulars at a Star Wars game using Fantasy Flight Games’ system. The normal game consists of non-force users. This weekend, the regular GM is out, so another guy is going to run the Force and Destiny beginners’ adventure, which is based around force users. My fiancee and I are not super excited about being force users, but we do not want to the guy to be discouraged by a lack of players, so we are going to be supportive.Report

  7. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Every once in a while I muse with the idea of returning to tabletop RPGs and finding a group and all that. But the rules look a whole lot more intimidating and complex now than when I played AD&D as a teenager.

    Now, that’s my perception. Doesn’t mean I’m right. Maybe the rules really aren’t any more intimidating and complex than they ever were.

    But looking at, say, Pathfinder rules online about a year ago felt like taking a sip from a firehose. I get to deal with complex and intricate and sometimes seemingly arbitrary rules all day long at my real job. Taking up the intellectual time and space to absorb whole new sets of complex, intricate, and arbitrary rules for a role-playing game. The learning curve seems too steep now.

    Besides, now I’m old enough that I’ll want to drink beer while I play, and that would probably tend to diminish the quality of my strategic role-playing decisions.Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      @burt-likko We are spoiled in that the person who most usually DMs the group is allergic to alcohol AND an accountant. This makes up for a lot on the part of the rest of us :D. (Who don’t need this making up often, mind, but if any given person is struggling on any given day, there could maybe possibly be some bleary-eyed blinking and a plea for math help involved.)Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      I’ve never been an RPG enthusiast, but just as a long-time techie and software geek — among other things — it seems that given the amount of processing power everyone casually carries around in their pocket these days, rule complexity shouldn’t be an issue.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Play FATE…..FATE….(Dresden Files is in FATE. Big name world, urban fantasy, what more do you want?).

      FATE’s a storytelling game, though. We had a real problem the first few times trying it — D20 you’re used to dice rolls and actions. “I attack!. I declare X my dodge target. I want to try moving through them, that’s a tumbling roll if I don’t want AOO, right?”

      FATE’s more like “I shake the earth to make him stumble!” followed by “And I fire to his left, to flush him away from cover and distract him!” followed by the third player saying “He’s stumbled and distracted, I try to shoot him!”.

      (Plus you can do fun things like “There’s got to be boulders around terrain like this, right?” and make useful things appear because it fits the scene).

      The rules are pretty simple, and they’re the same for everything — whether fighting or matching wits.Report

    • Avatar James K says:


      This is the age of the retroclone, there are a huge number of games that are based on old versions of D&D. I’m running a campaign using Adventurer Conqueror King, which takes its basic mechanics from B/X D&D (the simpler game that was released in parallel to AD&D).Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      Yeah, Pathfinder was basically a game for people concerned that D&D was becoming too dumbed down, and wanted something more complex.

      But there are plenty of games that do a good job of capturing that D&D feel. Fate is a great game, especially for over-the-top heroic action. I haven’t played, but I’ve heard good things about Adventurer, Conqueror, King. I’ll add a third suggestion into the mix: Dungeon World. DW is a fun beast, that explicitly combines newer game design principles with a classic dungeon delving feel.

      Of the three, ACKS is going to be the game most like the game you played as a teen. Fate will be a game with great new ideas, letting you play your game in new ways but leaving it on you the players to keep things grounded in what you love about fantasy gaming. DW will split the difference.Report

  8. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    My RPG days are long past. I remember the transition from D&D to AD&D. There was a lot of discussion in those days about combat systems. The thing is, I also did a bit of live sword combat recreation. In other words, I fenced a bit in college and played SCA. We could go on at length about the limitations of fencing and SCA fighting as simulation of real sword fighting. Trust me: the length at which we could go on would be long indeed! But regardless of their limitations, it was abundantly clear to me that the (A)D&D combat system was built on some comically wrong assumptions. In the early years, it at least had the advantage of being quick and dirty. Yes, it was ridiculous, but you didn’t have to spend a lot of time on it. My sense is that this advantage disappeared in later iterations. I don’t know if this was compensated by being less ridiculous.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      4th Edition did an interesting concept where the assumption was that what killed you wasn’t 7-8 hits but one great big one (well, with the concept of “bloodied”, one good pop and *THEN* one great big one). Hit points were measuring something like mental/physical exhaustion that, little by little, resulted in you finally letting your guard down enough that your opponent would get past the defenses enough to strike you down.

      Which is, I suppose, a little less ridiculous.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        The original Star Wars RPG basically had your hitpoints (of which you had few, and if you got hit you were generally really, really hurt or dead) but had a larger pool of…I forgot what they called it, but it was like karma or luck. Basically damage there wasn’t “real” — you weren’t hurt, you used up a bit of luck. It was when your luck ran out that the blaster bolts hit.

        Dresden Files (all the FATE systems) use the same concept. You have a health (and a mind and a social) pool, but that can be filled up — and once it’s full, you’re taken out. (Whether it’s unconscious or dead, in terms of health, depends on whether you or the enemy got to decide how you went out).

        But that’s not…really damage. Your real damage is the consequences. You can avoid taking a hit to the health pool by taking a consequence (sometimes you have to, in fact). They can be anything from minor to critical. Minor ones aren’t things like “winded” — they go away when you get a minute to recover.

        They scale up, though. Some might take the rest of the gaming session to go away (battered, for instance) and some might take several sessions (broken bones) and some might take several adventures (badly burned or otherwise maimed) or even become permanent.

        So once you get hurt, it’s generally for real unless it’s a very light injury. I think the last game I played by the end of the last fight my character was bruised, concussed, and had a broken arm. Luckily that was the end of the adventure, and the rule of thumb is “adventures” take place months apart, so the broken arm would be gone by the next time I played. Otherwise I would have had a broken arm (which can be used against my character really easily) for some time.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I don’t want my combat system to be realistic. I want it to be heroic, fast, simple, and narrative.

      Also, I don’t want to get killed by mere minions. If I get killed, it should be by the boss, not in a random-encounter of a gelatinous cube when I roll a 1 on the d20 and get a critical fail, shattering my weapon on the wall, and said improbable goo-creature gets a natural 20 critical hit incapacitating and subsequently digesting me.

      The Elder Scrolls games seem to do a good job of having random encounters occur in situationally-appropriate ways and at appropriate challenge levels.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Then you want the Fate system. Seriously.

        The combat system assumes a level of competence on your part and the question is if you are lucky/competent enough to overcome a particular obstacle.

        You have four die and you roll to see whether you get +es or -es… and you can get -es or +es from pointing out stuff that has been set up. Fighting an ice troll in a supermarket? You probably don’t have the ability to cast fireball or something like that… but you *CAN* probably find a bottle of alcohol (whether in the medicine aisle or, if you’re lucky enough to live in a state that sells booze in the grocery store, in the booze aisle) and you can use alcohol to get a fireball kinda thing going. Or if you’re in a parking lot, why not use the gas tanks of the various cars around? If you’re in a field, well… come up with something. I’m sure that something is comeupable with.

        So you get a +2 bonus for the fire you’ve already started to set something up, then you roll your die to see if you get a 1 or 2 (a minus! Boo!) or a 5 or 6 (a plus! yay!) and tell the story from what happens if you succeed or what happens if you fail.

        The D&D dynamic of the DM and players is fairly adversarial. The dynamic in Fate is that everybody at the table wants to tell a good story (and everybody at the table should get a monologue).Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Yeah. The GM bribes you with Fate tokens (you can spend a token for a reroll, for a +2 bonus, or to ‘utilize’ something that’s been already utilized) for doing things like “being in character even if it’s not great for your to your health”.

          You basically add your skill to your roll and get a result (happily labeled stuff like “Poor, Average, all the way up to Epic at +12 or +16. The labels describe what the results should be. You make an epic attack on an average defense? They take whatever the numerical difference is in damage, which can also be described by those labels. Most people just call them shifts or whatever.

          So give a short example: I want, in a Dresden Files game, to walk into someone else’s house. Personally I know, from reading the books, that doing so without an invite will strip me of some of my wizardly powers. However, my character has a trait (a concept that’s part of my character that I or the DM chose) called “Doesn’t know what he doesn’t know”. Means I’m cocky, arrogant, and don’t know as much about the wizard business as I think I do — I’m only an apprentice.

          So the DM holds up a fate token and says “You don’t know how much you don’t know” — basically “I’ll give you this if you go into the house, dumb and happy and in character”. I can either take it, or spend one of mine to say “No, I know this much”.

          I go in, dumb and happy, and get into a fight. My buddies back me up. I could cast a wave of magic at him (say +5 skill with whatever my roll is) to hurt him. Instead of doing that, the action goes like this:

          “I want to shake the earth beneath us, to get him off balance” (I summon up my power and do that). The enemy is now “off balance”. My buddy says “I’ve got an angle on him, I want to shoot to flush him out into the middle of the room, away from the cover he’s behind”. (He does a simple gun roll.) The enemy is now “out in the open”.

          So in comes Tommy, the last guy, with his baseball bat. Tommy’s weapons skill is +5. The guy’s athletics (defense) is +5. So rolling the four dice, the best he can achieve is a +4 (if all 4 dice come up +. Likely he’ll get a +2. Bell curve. Half the dice sides are +, half -). So that’s,…2 shifts of damage he can do. Pretty poor.

          Instead of just attacking Tommy says “Okay, now that he’s off balance and out in the open I want to hit him with my baseball bat. By invoking the two descriptions we set up (free the first time it’s done in a fight) he gets +2 for each. So now Tommy starts with a +9. He’ll, on average, get a +2 — so +11 which means 6 shifts of damage. The guy gets hit pretty hard, decides to take a minor consequence (bruised) to drop it down 2 points to 4, and that’s another aspect (descriptor) that can be tapped if it’s relevant.

          So a fight in a coffee shop actually went with a mage ripping open a hot water resevoir for the coffee maker (which wasn’t in the description of the room but fit the scene, so the storyteller let it exist) and spraying the bad guy with hot water, distracting him. Another guy jumped the counter and started throwing hot coffee at him, blinding him. The mage then knocked stuff off the walls, forcing him to stumble out into the open. None of that did damage.

          But once he was blinded, distracted, out in the open, and whatnot — the last guy can hit the snot out of him. 🙂

          You play FATE by using the environment and the story. It’s not very concerned with more than the bare bones of what gun you have (mostly range) and more concerned with what you DO with your gun.

          Social combat (battles of wits) are run the same way — just based on different skills. You can rattle them, get them angry, etc. Even ‘take them out’ (fill up their social bar or hand them more damage then than can take).Report

  9. Avatar Miss Mary says:

    My “weekend” is now officially on Monday and Tuesday. No one at my new job takes their days off on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. So Monday I will be celebrating my birthday with my boyfriend since we were both sick on the day we were going to do that. I believe the plan is to spend the entire day together and probably eat at some point, which is perfect because I hardly ever see him and it’s exactly how I want to spend my birthday. Tuesday will be errands and whatnot. My friend from 3,000 miles away visits Portland one time a year, so I’ll try to see him for a drink or dinner on Tuesday, I think.Report

  10. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I’m very fond of the Heroes System, but I recognize that the GM must place (possibly severe) limitations on Speed. Excess speed breaks the system. We’ve had very good experiences with speed capped at 4, and trading off speed 3 and speed 4 as characters seems to work ok. Speed 2 kind of sucks at that level, but it’s good for baddies that aren’t the Big Baddie. It’s OK for the Big Baddie to have speed 6 or something, since there’s multiple people in the party all taking actions.

    I think that at high point levels there are probably a few other limits that must be placed, such as “no more than X active points in any attack power”, and maybe “No more than X points in any defense”.Report

  11. Avatar Will Truman says:

    So we’re back from Alaska.

    I checked the mouse drawer.

    Sigh. Gonna have to get lethal.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

      Not like it was going to get a lot better on its own while you were up visiting Sarah Palin. As for the mice, I say every life is precious, can’t we all get along? The human and mouse genomes are something like 98% identical. So think about what you’re doing.

      Have you tried standing in the kitchen or whatever other room you know they frequent, and asking nicely in a clear voice whether they might consider moving on now? Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I was hoping that it wasn’t the case that I was catching the same mice over and over again. By the time I got catch #9, though, I was starting to get pretty suspicious. There’s more than one, but I don’t think there are 9.Report

        • Avatar Miss Mary says:

          I’ve been a vegetarian half my life. I say kill the mice. Pick something that doesn’t make them suffer. Good luck.Report

        • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

          Well, I used a different method even when I was in the non-lethal stage, that might be even more impractical for you than it was for me: I’d drive them a few blocks from my house and release them into a large empty lot not too near any residential housing. Even that felt irresponsible though – was I just giving the mice to someone else to take care of? Plus it was a bother to drive the mouse-in-a-trap all that way, every time things went according to plan.

          So, big confession here, it got a lot easier just to get the disposable killer traps and drop them in the trash when the terrible work was done. I’d be a little concerned that things have gone a bit far for you. You might go out and get a whole bunch of traps, and not hesitate to double- and triple-up in well-skittered mouseways (as I recall the diagrams on one type of trap illustrated something like that).Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            If I didn’t have the little one to look after, I would actually do something along those lines. There are a lot of woods. But the prospect of loading up the little one in a car, taking the her out into the woods, just to set a mouse free… it’s just not workable at this point in time.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      And boy are our arms tired!!!Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      We’ve been dealing with files. Not fruit flies. Flies. Not fun.

      But I think we’ve got them under control. I hope.Report