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Messages - Viletta Vadim

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Role Playing Public Radio Podcast / The "Bad Players" Letter
« on: January 30, 2011, 01:47:14 AM »
In the latest episode (episode 53, for those of you in Future Land), the hosts got a letter from a GM who complained about his last M&M game, about how it leaves him/her feeling drained and so on and so forth, and asking for advice on dealing with the situation.  The hosts proceeded to place all blame squarely on the shoulders of the players, which I really consider a disservice to the GM writing, and his/her group.  Y'all completely ignored the possibility that this GM might be the source of their own problem (or, more probably, it's a combination of factors, and the GM is one of them, but they all need to be addressed).

Note: There are a lot of hypotheticals and worst-case assumptions in here.  Keep that in mind.  I'm swinging in the other direction in a big way, here.

In listening to the letter, a lot of the complaints sounded like they came from a position of, "The players refuse to conform to my vision," without consideration of the players' vision, and it sounds like the GM went so far as to start limiting the system to pen the players into that vision they had no input into and have no investment in.

If the GM is thinking a street-level, gritty, toned-down teen heroes game with characters who are generally plausible like Robin, Speedy, or Bucky, where bank robbers with assault rifles are a serious threat and mundane mobsters are the main threat, but the players crave lots of freedom and cosmic-level or exotic characters on the order of Doctor Strange, Braniac 5, and the Silver Surfer, where anything short of a planet-eater is daily fare?  If the GM just tries to force the players into the street-level mold without any sort of concessions, of course the GM's gonna get burnt out, and very little of that is going to be the players' fault.

There has to be some give and take there, and in this case, it may be better to end up somewhere around a Teen Titans game.  Yeah, you have your alien princess and your extradimensional sorceress spawn of a planet-destroying uberdemon and they live in a big T on their own island, but they're still not above street-level crime, and they don't command the same respect as, say, the Justice League.  The bad guys are still the mob with a lot of the same elements, but now they have lasers and ninjas and the drugs they're dealing are juiced from a psychic alien they've captured, turning their junkies into superstrong slaves while they're on their high.  Or something.  It's a lot easier and less taxing to find common ground than it is to drag the players kicking and screaming onto your turf and constantly enforcing your will upon them.

With this particular question, of what the hosts have that this GM lacks, it really seems like one of the most important answers would be give-and-take, the ability to work with the players, rather than lord over them, because it really sounds like this GM's not giving an inch.  While there probably are some player issues at work, I just can't put it all on their shoulders.

While this is true I think it may be missing the point. It would appear that Catalyst had a payment agreement with the company, they hadn't defaulted on that agreement but the company acted rashly in demanding payment whilst still discussing the payment option with Catalyst.

I'd still call it a dick move. These publishers make massive investments into projects they don't know will flop or be a big success, that would explain them wishing to pay off the initial batch in a slow process, or quicker if it sells well.
I really can't fault 'em for filing like they did.  Game developers are not rich people.  They need money to feed the family and pay the mortgage, and now that money they worked so hard for is in jeopardy and they are understandably afraid because this situation can put them in very real financial peril.  At the very worst, they still have their freelancers to pay before even putting food in their own mouths, and without that money, they can't pay the freelancers, so they'll get sued for not paying their freelancers and they are going out of business, too.  They can't afford to be patient.

I'll let you know as soon as I find an icky one hereabouts.

This guy above me knows what he's talking about. I approve.

oh 3E I will never get tired of your game breaking combos
Actually, that combination is vastly weaker than if you just took Druid to level 20.  You are giving up pretty much all spellcasting beyond third-level spells, after all, and Shapechange alone is by far more powerful than any grade of Wild Shape.

Lessee.  Next one.  Diplomacy whore.

Venerable Half-Elf Rogue.  15 charisma, base, +5 from levels, +5 from a tome, +1 from age, +8 from a cloak, for a total of 36 (+12)

24 Diplomacy from skill ranks.
+12 from Charisma
+2 from race.
+5 from Skill Focus and Negotiator
+3 traits (Honest, Polite, Illiterate, with illiteracy bought off).
+24 from an Item Familiar

As a Rogue, you can pick up Skill Mastery: Diplomacy.

All together, this means you can eat the -10 to make Diplomacy checks as a full-round action and always be guaranteed at least a result of 70, which is enough to take someone from hostile to helpful, no save, no nothing, meaning any intelligent being you can speak to automatically loses if you speak.  You can even get some fanatics.  Lots of ranks in Speak Language are a good thing, so you can always diplomacize with folks.

A minor point that got brought up; infinite wild shaping.  That's actually quite easy.  While Master of Many Forms doesn't grant it anymore, the Warshaper class (Complete Warrior, IIRC) grants an ability at level 5 that allows you to change your Wild Shape/Polymorph/etc. form in the middle of the duration without expending another use.  And since if you have Wild Shape, you're pretty much guaranteed to get at least twenty-four hours' worth of it eventually, it's effectively infinite.  You can then add in Master of Many Forms to add breadth and just stay Wild Shaped at all times, shifting into your default form when you don't need any other form.

21st-level human Psion.

1st- Psicrystal Affinity
1st (Human)- Improved Psicrystal
1st (Psion)- Improved Psicrystal
3rd- Improved Psicrystal
5th (Psion)- Improved Psicrystal
6th- Improved Psicrystal
9th- Improved Psicrystal
10th (Psion)- Improved Psicrystal
12th- Improved Psicrystal
15th- Improved Psicrystal
15th (Psion)- Improved Psicrystal
18th- Improved Psicrystal
20th (Psion)- Improved Psicrystal
21st- Improved Psicrystal

What you do with your powers, your stats, and any of that doesn't really matter.

Improved Psicrystal improves all of your psicrystal's abilities by one level.  That includes your psicrystal's hit die.  Further, it can be taken as many times as you please.  With 13 instances of Improved Psicrystal, you have a 34th-level rock that can do... almost nothing.  Except that it has 34 HD, and all the feats that come with it.  Like, say, Leadership.  And Epic Leadership.  You'll need to give your pet rock an epic cloak of charisma to get it to qualify for Epic Leadership, but once you do, you can have a pet rock with 26 to 32 charisma.

Assuming 30 charisma, that makes a leadership score of 44.  This means without modifiers, your psicrystal can have a 27th-level cohort.  That means your pet rock's minion is more badass than you are.

And your pet rock's minion?  A 27th-level human Psion with 15 instances of Improve Psicrystal for a 42-HD psicrystal with a Leadership score of 52, making for a 31st-level cohort with a 47-HD pet rock, with a 33rd-level cohort, with a 50-HD pet rock, with a 35th-level cohort, with... you get the idea.  Repeat ad infinitum.

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