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Tablet Pics

And another, with some commentary..

I really like how the tablet makes it easier to be creative with drawing - unlike with pen/paper, I'm not afraid to put more onto the paper with the knowledge that any mistake would require very careful editing out in GIMP. In some cases my pre-tablet comic has differences from the scanned paper copy, but I've kept that type of editing to a minimum. With the one comic I've done so far on the tablet, I was able to be far more adventurous, knowing that control-Z would cure anything.

My knowledge of GIMP is still very shallow - I need to learn more about layers, figure out how to use the buttons on the tablet, etc.

The tablet's config still needs work - the cursor vibrates when it's close enough to the right edge and I still need to use xrandr to turn off the laptop's main display if I want the stylus to work correctly on the screen. Despite not having as much screen real-estate though, I like looking at the smaller screen more than my laptop's ... sigh.

After playing it a bit (not as a DM, which I usually was back in my DnD days), I've come to the conclusion that D20 Modern (and likely the entire D20 genericised DnD setting) is both not much like DnD in the ways it is (was? I haven't seen 4th edition yet) and is lousy.

D20 leaves the essentials of combat mechanics alone, but alters two central aspects of DnD - character classes and character abilities. D20 modern, as I understand it, was designed to provide a framework under which a DM might choose to run a DnD-like campaign set in a world different enough from fantasy novels that many game mechanics would need to be redone. One in particular is character classes - of all the classes only the fighter carries well to the future (although a DM would need to work out mechanics for firearms and other modern weapons). The way they did this in D20 is to largely eliminate character classes, instead having a "class" for each attribute, these classes not being that different (hit dice still depend on class, but otherwise a class is a bundle of proficiency-boosts). They then tagged these classes with uninspiring, difficult-to-imagine names like "Brave Hero" or "Dedicated Hero". In essense, everyonme's a fighter. There being no real classes, fitting any interesting variation between character roles goes to feats and what used to be proficiencies, which is clumsy at best. Conclusion: They screwed up.

They also reworked proficiencies (now called skills), reducing the feeling of there being a huge number of them for people to customise to their heart's content down to there being a short-ish list that pretty much fits with checkboxes and levels on a character's sheet. They also decided that having both feats and proficincies was not enough, now there are special abilities too.

Being flexible isn't bad, but genericising classes doesn't really work well, and the proficiency reduction makes one feel that one's playing a videogame (with the usual comparatively-shallow-feeling-of-variation characters can have)


Does this mean you don't want to play anymore?

'Cause that would make me sad.

While I agree the system is flawed and I agree with much of your point, I have yet to come across a system that I thought was awesome in all respects. While the extensiveness of RoleMaster's character creation probably provides a lot of room for customization, the 8 pages of character sheets are just a little ridiculous. Especially if you die and need to re-roll. Trade-offs need to be made.

Actually, what I really suspect, is that the D20 Modern system was created to be friendly and approachable to non-gamers, or non-serious gamers, hence the tidiness of it all.

I'm personally rather fond of the Rifts/Palladium system, though that could be nostalgia. It was the first system I learned. I'm curious what you'd think of it. If we ever get to play the Heroes Unlimited Campaign, you'll have to let me know what you think of the game mechanics. It's a D20 based system, but very different from DnD in its application.

Re: Does this mean you don't want to play anymore?

I'm up to keep playing - the system just provides a framework for company, which is at least 50% of the point of games. It's also nice to be doing RPGs, even if the system is bad.

I'd be slightly more enthused about going back to free game nights or trying another system (Cyberpunk 2020 was pretty neat, and some DnD 2nd/3rd edition hybrid with plenty of DM imagination is a nice system too) - the first because we could hopefully get Chris and Will to join us (and the variety in games is nice), the second because I'm not particularly interested in levelling my character in D20Modern (nor really about anything the system itself has to offer). At least as of now though, the post-apocalypse thing combined with D20 make it more about hanging out than anything else.

Re: Does this mean you don't want to play anymore?

I love CP2020 deeply (the CP3.0, not so much), it's probably got the best combat mechanics of any system I know, but it's got it's own set of flaws. Also, I thought you didn't like dystopian, which is essentially what Cyberpunk 2020 is all about. We thought you guys would be sick of it, which was one of the reasons we didn't do it this time around.

I'm getting a feeling that the current campaign, though set in an apocalypse sort of setting, is going to steadily move into steampunk territory, with a blend of old and new technology, based on what people have scrounged together over the years. From there it'll prolly continue steadily onward with regards to technology until it becomes more futuristic than apocalyptic. The apocalyptic setting was just a place to start. I could be wrong, but I think that's the path he's taking, if that's any consolation.

Re: Does this mean you don't want to play anymore?

I can like the CP system without necessarily the CP theme :) Besides, the CP is not so much post-apocalypse dystopia as liberalism-has-failed dystopia (at least, from what I've read it could go either way on that). Maybe the liberalism-has-failed is a bit more interesting to me, I'm not sure.

The combat mechanics of CP2020 are indeed awesome - they're probably my favourite part of that system (although the "classes" are pretty creative too).

Re: Does this mean you don't want to play anymore?

Point taken, CP is built on a fairly rich base of sci-fi and pop culture.

While the CP2020 system is generally very well designed, it always bothered me that the core of CP - the netrunner, was the character most difficult to play and GM. I mean, cyberpunk is built off hackers, but hacking in the game is slow, time consuming, and boring. It was always more useful to use an NPC for that.

One thing I really like about CP2020 is the lack of an alignment system. I was never fond of DnD's system, and in general I don't think alignments in that fashion are very useful. Though the Rifts/Palladium alignment is particularly well thought out. I also like that instead of neutral there's a "selfish" alignment, where a person is just looking out for themselves (but not necessarily in a bad way). I found the entire alignment listed here:
But you'll have to excuse their poor web design.

Re: Does this mean you don't want to play anymore?

I don't actually like the rifts system much either - like many alignment systems, it has only the barest nod to pluralism. I think any alignment system (if one is even possible) should acknowledge the idea of many principled (and less principled) people representing multiple different coherent (and incoherent) perspectives struggling, often with violence for dominance - the notion of "evil" seems to largely be a description, as I've seen it anyhow, of mental illness or severe antisocial tendencies in the games. Maybe it's a reflection of the ingroup tendency to demonise non-group members whom we must struggle with, but it's kind of a childish view of the world.

I have a paper copy of Rifts TMNT - never played it but have had it for years. :)

During my short-lived DMing session, I was trying to give the feel of much more realistic social struggles, and was hoping to eventually develop it to the point where people would argue over and lightly identify with a side (or organise their own). I guess it didn't quite last long enough for that.

Re: Does this mean you don't want to play anymore?

I suppose, but polarization tends to crop up during gameplay anyway. Take the current D20 campaign. None of us made any attempt to identify with or even understand the relationship between the bandits and the town, or to understand the kinds what led to the creation of the bandits, why they went around beheading people. No, it was just kill 'em, take revenge and move on. You could make the case that Jason as GM didn't provide a lot of opportunity for that, but the fact remains that none of us even tried. We didn't care about social struggle, we didn't care about circumstance or situation or subtlety, we just wanted to kill them.

Also, I don't think the rifts notion of evil is based solely on mental illness or being antisocial, they're examples of value judgments and personal standards. The abberant alignment is almost exactly the same as the principled alignment, the only difference being what side of the society's law you fall on.

Re: Does this mean you don't want to play anymore?

There's a difference between taking a side with quick decisions being necessary and marking the other side as evil - with that setting, the bandits presumably fit into a rather common example of "people who, through lack of identification with the public good due to mental illness or poor upbringing, view some or all of society as "fair game" for self-enrichment through whatever means possible (the gang nature of some of these behaviours has a number of interesting differences from the self-interest-of-one model). One could of course dig into the specific causes, but barring any surprises that's more a matter of filling in the blanks.

Those types of conflicts do crop up in life, but they take second seat to something much more interesting (at least to me). What's missing in most roleplaying "morality tales" is the story of multiple actors that are "recognisably good" through simpler eyes but have deep incompatibilities with each other that make conflict and struggle of various sorts necessary - it's struggles like these that are much more interesting - paladins fighting paladins, people of one ideal fighting another.

In the struggle for survival and dominance, one doesn't need to stop to think and hand around flowers to be intellectually honest.

I guess on abberant versus principled, the description there still feels a bit dishonest - when you ask "what would happen were the abberant to win", it still feels different than an "alternate-world principled", by their description.

I think we agree on the broader scale of things that alignment is a troublesome idea in gaming (and maybe philosophically).