If I were to attempt to rank my topics from most popular to less popular, the list would be something like:
L5R RPG mechanics
V:TES tournament reports or more serious analysis
RPG general analysis
Food options when traveling to play games? I don’t think Shadowfist has terribly broad appeal, maybe general CCG analysis has some. What of the oddity that is True Dungeon, something only in extreme limited availability and where analysis is really more the province of an even more limited playerbase?
Well, I haven’t been playing much besides Shadowfist and haven’t been buying much besides True Dungeon tokens. I didn’t get any gaming in when visiting family recently. I need to leave some topics on Traveller for our website, where my column should be going up soon.
So, True Dungeon it is. But, not tokens. Tokens are a rabbit hole that I think I’ll maybe talk about after Gen Con, when I see our collections at work.
Oh, I suppose I could have tried to talk about the Wonder Woman movie and try to tie it into gaming, but I just thought that would be repetitive to my various DC TV show posts and gaming.
Classes. In many ways, classes don’t matter. Amazingly enough, I don’t find combat to be all that relevant to the experience when you are the casual player. Is this ironicful given how much token tycoons relish being better at combat? Let me expound.
First of all, half the time or so we are doing puzzle rooms. How do the classes matter when doing puzzle rooms? Well, there are saving throws sometimes, there are situations where free action may matter, and, of course, there’s hit points. The cleric, followed by the druid, followed by the paladin are too legit to knit for their abilities to restore hit points. Possibly, a spell may do something but who knows? Then, there’s the almighty rogue. Go rogue, go rogue, go rogue. I totally get the appeal of the rogue even if you pretty much ignore combat, though it has mighty antiappeal pour moi, as mentioned previously. Being immune to disease or feather falling or whatever might be relevant once every X number of years.
Can find the class details here:
So, combat. Oh, not Nightmare combat where memorization just wastes time murdering. Still talking about the casual experience, the Normal of normals, the “I don’t own any URs” fest that we have been used to over the years of casual play.
Barbarian needs a 2h-er to unleash excessive beats. Comes with healthy hit points. Fighter hits most often, I guess. Ranger can ranged fight if someone has a ranged weapon, where double sliding is something I don’t think advantages the inexperienced. Monk seems to be the least desirable class IME, though bard doesn’t get a lot of love either. Paladin can absorb damage for the hit point handicapped to some degree.
Though, mostly what I see with people who basically have random equipment is the inability to murder stuff, not so much the being murdered, until you hit room seven and, if you fight something, routinely get butchered because it will deal out substantial damage.
If I’m a barbarian, fighter, dwarf fighter, ranger, monk, or paladin, how much difference do I feel when I just have some random stuff? Meanwhile, cleric, druid, wizards all have clear needs to figure out what they are going to do. I’m usually a wizard, and I blast things til they die … or not. I’ve been in fights where everyone just kept missing and I used up a ton of spells to finish some monster off because might as well do something and worry about the consequences later (plus, in theory, I have scrolls and wands if I run out of spells, not that I end up using them). Clerics are often busy as hell unless the party is efficient both in combat and at puzzles. Druids have plenty of things to worry about, having arguably the toughest decisions on what to do round by round.
Sure, classes matter. I’d say healers matter the most often. But, this is mundane analysis. Where’s the rule of cool, the harm of warm, the thought of hot?
Let’s talk 5th level classes. I don’t have any designs on a Rod of Seven Parts, nor do I find the variant classes all that compelling, even less interesting in some cases, like the sorcerer who is like the most boring caster ever in that all it does is blast, blast, blast. On the other hand, we have graduated from playing 4th-ies. Just too many interesting things to do at 5th plus the number of tokens that uplevel you at this point is so vast that you can only sink a couple hundred into TD and play varsity.
What’s the coolest thing a barbarian does? Because puzzle damage seems to be Eldritch, the damage reduction is really just another combat ability, though it’s not entirely clear whether all puzzle damage is Eldritch or not. I love me my damage reduction, but nope. Greater Rage? Um, well, since the damage bonus ability is the same as the 4th level dude, you could make this argument. I just don’t see how a barbarian doesn’t do lots and lots of pain. But, the barbarian needs to hit things and, while a +4 to hit/damage from STR is fine, just hitting in combat defeats many an adventurer. Of course, if you are 5th level, you can probably jack your STR to obscene levels or, at least, use the recent synergistic tokens that give hit/damage bonuses at like the uncommon/common level.
Bard. The coolest thing about being a bard is, of course, distracting everyone with your banjoharp/other. But, suppose you want to do something besides generate static bonuses. I know nothing of the lore skill test, since I think bard didn’t exist back in the long, long ago, and, for some reason, there’s discouragement to practicing a class’s tests that you aren’t playing. That it takes an action just seems incredibly wrong. Like, why do you need a special instrument to use both your abilities at the same time? That’s mean. Of course, this is the quintessential bard issue – without a special instrument, you can do lots of different things but only one of them at a time. What’s the point of having spells if you don’t cast them because Bardsong is so badass? Some bards even like to fight, though I don’t know why given that the class offers so many other things to do that someone who likes swinging knouts would go for a knoutswinger class. You get heal, possibly more efficient than paladin heal, as well. We don’t have one, but the instrument I rate the most me, myself, and I relevant is Briano’s Blessed Bodhrán. But, then, why don’t I just play a wizard?
I’m not enthusiastic about playing cleric. I like protecting folks much and I like healing well enough, but the cleric is just far too busy in my play and gets into weird situations of waiting to see if someone gets hurt. While the abilities to restore power and restore spell are strong like mule, I’d rather be on the receiving end of restoration rather than the giving end. Cleric has too much coordination to do between finding out who needs what level of healing and when to “do it again” on some tactical nuke.
Druid is like the best of all worlds. You can continue to ignore AC while getting good saves, blasts, and heals. I played druid a couple of times once upon a time (or maybe it was just once), which seems odd given how much time I’ve spent studying the wizard planar charts. Polymorph? Sounds cool, but, then, don’t you just become another fighter? Coolest thing about a druid? Versatile spellcasting.
Dwarf fighter is for people who love the idea of taunting monsters or for folks who are really good at sliding. ’nuff said.
Elf wizard ever going to polymorph? I haven’t seen it. Do high end parties love the elf for the ability to Alertness every combat? Well, I guess it’s “fun” to always murder the monster before it gets to act. I find Ironskin to be the sort of spell I’d like to see cast more, but I somehow doubt it. I don’t believe it affects puzzles, again Eldritch pierces damage reduction to my knowledge, which is unfortunate for making spellcasting more versatile.
Fighter doesn’t even have taunting. If you are really into sliding, being able to knock around pucks is I guess a thing.
Monk is where I think the TD experience differs much from a more varied experience. You get a ton of abilities, but you pretty much end up being fighterlike in what you actually do. I like the idea of weird abilities and great saves to the point where I actually picked up a token for a monk build, a monk build just for funsies as it will be terrible compared to real purple monks. Should you be the one to fiddle around during puzzles, trying stuff out? Perhaps, so this is another strike against the class for me as I’m cowardly by nature.
We finally get to the inspiration for this here particular post. Ah, the paladin. Sure, somebody expects you to fight. Pshaw, grandpa. The paladin’s real purpose in the world is to Shiba Bushi. No, not guard. Well, yes guard but not as the point of your existence. Nope, the point of your existence is sacrifice. Who doesn’t want abilities that just say “you don’t die”? Okay, maybe I’m far into dramatic rescues. Yup, I could paladin. I could even go serious defense paladin, in theory. Btw, an interesting thing about sacrifice is that it disincentivizes high HP. That’s rather interesting to me, as, suddenly, my obsession with CON in builds doesn’t need to cookiecutter my character building, and, it starts making “don’t nuke me after sacrifice” plays, like sudden HP gains or whatever far more interesting. Are damage reduction builds optimized with paladin, who is fine losing HP since any serious threat will leave pally at 5, anyway, but wants to lose slowly and not deadfully? Pretty strong saves, too, plus random weirdness, plus healing.
Ranged ranger is the only build that interests me as I want to do less sliding not more. May even go to the point of not bothering with melee weapons or wielding idiotic ones for the humor value. At 5th level, get spells! So funny. Who doesn’t like casual spell use? Decent saves. It would be interesting to see if I could generate interest in trying to crit repeatedly without sliding 20s.
There’s a surprising amount, to me anyway, references to sneak attack being a thing. Neither flank nor sneak seem to me to be relevant to the rogue experience, but, hey, whatever, gives some bonus combat utility. If I were to rogue, I’d sadly need to pick up all of the rogue cheats so that I could fail miserably and still defeat chests. Rather than do that, I will stay far, far away from this class. Pretty terrible saves. Too much effort to flank/sneak. Well, I rogue enough in my RPG play, where the mechanics are usually less challenging.
Finally, the roc has come back to Greyhawk. I still don’t get how Lesser Maze is supposed to work since there’s a really simple way to rule on it that, apparently, is not how it actually works. You don’t get to Alertness cheese combat. Saves are kind of crap. Lightning only makes some monsters bigger or electrifies entire parties. Yet, this is comfy for me. I can be a kind of sucky bro who cares more about getting memorization right than actually murderfesting the enemy. I can pretend I’ll use a wand someday without ever actually using one since they pretty well suck compared to what you can do with spell damage bonus tokens. I like how builds are free of the sort of dull options that others find interesting. I can ignore armor. I can wear whichever crown I want. My hands are just going to play with my staff or maybe my flute, if I’m feeling frisky. I can run around with no STR, though Elf is pretty much the same. I’m not some goofy elf, unless someone forces me to option into elfdom. Sure, wizard isn’t as hot as druid or as Shiba as paladin. But, hey, I’ll blast you, you’ll fang me. We will just murder each other like two ships in the night on a collision course, or someone else will murder you and I’ll be pondering the last puzzle we couldn’t figure out.
True Dungeon – it’s not remotely about class … up until the point that it’s all about class.