Wednesday, January 27, 2016

So You Want to Play Rough

I haven't written much here.  I've been working on the harpy project - which I can't post because my players haven't seen it yet.  I will be revealing whatever they discover next week.

In the meantime, a commentary on Tarentino's impending The Hateful Eight:

This is from Eating Raoul, just the sort of exploitation film that Tarentino loves.  I expect that with a great many people stuck in a Wyoming cabin in a snowstorm, there will be lots and lots of the sort of pud-pounding dialogue Tarentino has used to ruin all his films with in the last fifteen years.

"Nobody can say we don't earn this money."

Paul Bartel, the fellow with the frying pan, practically invented the action-sexploitation film.  Oh, I should mention, in the Disney film Tangled where Eugene says, "Frying pans!  Who knew?"  My first thought was "Paul!"

I saw this film when I was 18 and fell in love with Mary Woronov immediately.  I'm sure it's the only thing I had in common with Andy Warhol.  Sadly, given her successive film career, it was a huge disappointment.  But hey, I fall in love very easily.  It's my nature.

If someone wants to throw out a topic for me to write on, go ahead.  Just now I can't think of anything.  I'm busily working on my art career.


  1. Hi Alexis, thank you for sharing all the work you do on this blog. Will you consider returning to the "mini-series" of posts on building a trading town? The last one was written 30 Apr 15, at this link:

    Whatever you choose, I look forward to reading.

  2. Enjoy the blog. I also recall this movie, especially "Swing on this swingers!"

  3. In my recent running, a PC set out to scout in the woods for enemy location. he stated that he wished to be stealthy so I asked him to roll a stealth check (d20). The PC rolled a 1.

    In my campaign rolling a 1 on an ability check in my campaign is an automatic failure. It means that the PC performed so poorly on the check that they may adversely effect their situation, such as tripping, falling down, or some other opposite of what they tried to accomplish.

    So after the 1 was rolled, I told the PC that he was being noisy as he scouted. He promptly said, I go back to camp as soon as I make any noise at all, arguing that he would know that he was making noise and would not risk being alone in the woods. I was a bit dumbfounded.

    I explained that the stealth roll is a function of whether or not he would be seen by enemies passive perception. That the PC would not know he was being too loud and change course. We played that he was spotted by his intended scouting target. However, I've been thinking about it, and I somewhat agree with his analysis. Wouldn't a PC know they were performing poorly at stealth?

    Perhaps the answer is that I shouldn't ask for a stealth roll until required. This is what I planned to do in the future.

    Also, can you think of a spell or cantrip that you would permit to be cast stealthily?

  4. Regarding stealth.

    The roll is only relevant when the character is actually in the presence of the enemy or potential enemy - that is, close enough to be heard. It must be supposed that the difference between a successful thief and an unsuccessful thief is NOT the difference between quiet and noisy - it is the difference between very quiet and not quite very quiet enough. From the thief's perspective, he would have believed himself to be very quiet and in fact would not know he had been quiet enough until the moment when he failed to be quiet enough in the presence of others. The argument that "he would have known he was noisy" was only made possible because the DM in this case chose to present his failure as "noisy" in light of the "1" being the worst possible error.

    This is a good example of why a "1" shouldn't just be a failure. By assigning a special import to the 1 you are providing the player the opportunity to turn your ideals against you.

    Recognize that a good thief wouldn't make an excessive error of the kind you suggest (particularly with a 1 in 20 chance - imagine that an engineer had 1 in 20 buildings fall down!) - at worst, the thief would make enough sound to be heard, which wouldn't happen with the comical stumbling act you describe.

    Regarding a stealthy spell:

    The Command spell only requires that the verb be spoken loud enough to be heard by the victim. The casting does not require more preparation than the spoken word (in my world, it is one action point, one fifth of a round). Therefore, you could whisper the word into the enemy's ear, stealthily.

  5. Thanks for the response. You hit the nail on the head with stealth. As for the Fail-on-1, its been this way in every campaign I have ever played.

    In the past, this rule has led to a good laugh, usually at the PC or NPC's expense. However, I have been thinking that when I describe an NPC's flub for a laugh, it may be negating the players' immersion. The NPC is suddenly cartoon-ish. In the reverse scenario that the player fails, it just has that uncomfortable feeling of schadenfreude.

    I will end that rule moving forward. I have been wanting to implement your dropped/break weapon mechanic anyway.

    Can I ask you another question that I have had for a long time?: If a stunned PC, or NPC for that matter, is targeted for an attack (while still stunned) in your campaign, is there benefit gained by the attacker. If so, is the benefit the same for melee, ranged, and magic (such as spells that require a save).

  6. Don't think of a stunned opponent as weaker or otherwise incapacitated. Think of them only as someone unable to mount an attack or go on the aggressive. "Stunned" is a convenient buzzword, a single syllable word that is easier to understand than "blocked" "halted" "stopped" or "defensive." These words have other connotations - just as stunned has - without having the emotional impact.

    So no - there shouldn't be any adjustments to the character's defense or the attacker's die. Those things would just overbalance the game, which stunning already accomplishes by making a combatant lose their turn.


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