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Stephen Amber

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Posts posted by Stephen Amber

  1. Sure. Pretty much any creature ever mentioned in one of those old folk tales has probably made it's way into the game in some form, but if you actually read them, trolls, gnomes, dwarves and such are relatively interchangeable and do little more than pull mischievous pranks... they shock the pants off medieval peasantry. Oh boy.


    Not until the early 20th century would writers spin that whole cloth into something more detailed and fully developed... Starting with Dunsany and his noble, immortal, highly magical elves(which Tolkien got his ideas from), and other creatures. Howard, Leiber, Tolkien, and others took up the mantle and continued to define modern fantasy elements, which, through osmosis, ended up in the d&d games. And, as far as the playable races are concerned, I think it is clear Tolkien was the most important in defining them... the basic ones and characters like Aragorn(half elf) and the half-orc mongrels.


    Speaking of interchangeable, and other than the pointy noise, an eccentric halfling wizard differs from a gnome how? Seems to me having both gnomes and halflings was a bit redundant. One of them was expendable...

  2. Removal of gnomes and bards are two of the aspects of the 4th edition that do not irk me personally (though I can see why they would irritate fans of the race/class).


    Gnomes weren't in Tolkien, so they don't have quite as solid a backing as fantasy staples. In fact, I think they appear in CS Lewis's quaint, christian allegorical Silver Chair.

  3. The latest set, Desert of Desolation or somesuch, stinks imho, but there have been some very nice figures in previous sets. I particularly like what they've done with orcs.


    And the quantity of people with the time, money, and skill to make painting the pewter figures worth it has always been limited... pre painted plastic figures might have flown as far back s the 80's... back in the m.u.s.c.l.e. figure days if you remember those.

  4. With the advent of 4.0, D&D seems to have shifted its focus almost entirely to that of combat - it's become a miniature-based skirmish game. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just that I already have plenty of great minis-based skirmish games (Necromunda, Mordheim, etc.) and therefore have zero interest in 4.0.


    The miniatures have been the big sellers the last few years, so it's not really surprising. What's annoying is to see superficial changes, like a fat troll as opposed to a thinner one, as wotc continues to attempt to force you to imagine the beasties looking a certain way... and thus upgrade your figures as well.

  5. Are the sexcapades avoidable? Or does Geralt engage in such as a natural course? I remember the lengthy dialogue trees and having to be pretty deliberate to even get to the action in BG2, for instance.


    Don't suppose there are any annis hag like creatures with polymorph abilities in Witcher's world...


    Here's hoping Geralt's wiener turns to lead and falls off...

  6. I still disagree that Bioshock was "boring", because it still had a great gameplay and a great story. The Vita-Chambers were a mistake, yes, but it didn't ruin the game for me.



    I probably wouldn't have found it as disappointing if I hadn't played System Shock 1 and 2 to death. And disappinting is a key word here. I don't think Bioshock was a bad game, just a whole lot less compelling than I was hoping for. It's quite similar to my reaction to Deus EX and and its follow up Invisible War. Even though Bioshock isn't a "sequel" in the traditional sense, more like a remake.


    But let's be honest. The little sisters and big daddy AIs were cool at first, but when they kept doing the exact same behavior level after level with 0 variation, the initial thrill quickly passed into monotony, at least for me.



    Not sure that the waves of moaning zombies of System Shock 2 were any less repetitive, or displayed better AI, but you must think so I guess...

  7. So what makes the AoO option better than the old facing/backstab option, tactically speaking?


    It just made it simpler. You no longer had to figure out a different AC for your back, non shield side. If I remember right, AC from a buckler was only good against one opponent. A creature's anatomy no longer mattered for certain attacks... a 3e dragon's tail slap for instance could lash out in any direction. Stuff like that. Simplified and not always better.

  8. I think AoOs are pretty cumbersome


    They used AoOs and threatened squares as the primary means of adding tactical depth. Having done away with facings, the question was no longer who do I present my front/shield side to and who do I present my backside to... it became how can I move to best threaten squares? Sometimes I miss facings... there was a certain satisfaction in sneaking up from behind and delivering a 1e/2e backstab for instance. But they made the choice, and without facings you are limited in what you can do tactically.

  9. It was? By whose standards, yours?


    I thought at the time and still do that it's a terrible system. It's going bye bye and frankly I won't miss it, I might even go back to playing pnp again.


    I simply made a comparison between some of the rules.


    Here's one off the top of my head. 3e still spells. You take the feat, memorize one slot higher, thus removing the somatic component for the one spell.


    2e's equivalent? Armored casting. Character may cast spells in armor of his choice. Period. That's all it says!


    Oh, and I remember feats which allowed a character to reduce arcane sell failure chance in IWD2. NWN1 really could have used those...

  10. It is my understanding that IWD2 was conceived from the beginning as a short-term, relatively guaranteed-sale project in order to keep the cash flowing, as TBH or F3 were not projects that could be completed in a 12-month cycle. I'm sure I might be remembering things wrong, though - if so, somebody catch me on it.


    After the glut of IE games and people playing the BG/BG2/IWD+ expansions for 100s of hours the few previous years, it's hard to imagine it being a huge seller. Market overload... Like gorging oneself on watermelon, rolling down a hill, and eating another at the bottom. Maybe it sold huge... I dunno... And I actually did buy, play, and enjoy IWD2, despite the incomplete 3e, but I'm die hard that way. But the games that were lost... especially fallout3... it's enough to make one ball...



    You seem to be propelling your side of the argument almost by yourself, though. I did mean to touch on the connections with the earlier 4E debate, and assert that as Sawyer & co. didn't exactly jump into 3E without thinking 'just because it is new', I think it fair to say that they will similarly judge 4E on its own merits (though it's not like they can continue making 3.5E when 4E is out, anyway). I think there's no evidence in the IWD2 era to say that Sawyer is in any way a WOTC apologist or fails to see its mistakes.


    At the time probably not, since 3E was such the superior game(except for sargaleth abraxium or whatever his name was), so there was no need to be an apologist. I'm extremely skeptical now however, but could be wrong.

  11. did nothing to contribute to the hold-up or eventual cancellation of Van Buren (F3) or the Black Hound (BG3).


    That one's hard to believe, and you'd sort of have to be part of the company to know if it's true...


    I admit I don't really understand Stephen Amber's core complaint.


    This ridiculous thread has nothing to do with the core complaint... wasn't even made by me...

  12. Simply, at the time I felt black isle should have forgotten about IWD2, Torn, or whatever and gone ahead with Fallout3, while showing some restraint and giving their first 3e title the full treatment... meta-magics, AoO, 3d iso and so forth. Put their best foot forward in other words. Instead, in a fit of excitement, with ants in pants, they stuck 3E on the IE just like lipstick on a pig... But I guess that's enough of the way back machine... My how the world could have been different...


    Hard coded stacking? Code is never easy... it either works or it doesn't and is always prone to human error. And yes, in NWN I preferred the gratification of flexible stat manipulation the lack of ability score stacking allowed, maybe because there are less things to draw gratification from, combat & the need for stat manipulation occur more often, and durations for effects can always be timed in the back of one's head. Thus configuring one's gear and chugging the potion of strength at the opportune time. All so much more rigid in the paper game. The key is not making things like belts of agility+5 and bracers of dex +5 available while presenting interesting compromises... two rings of clarity +3 for the better DC or one ring +3 with the ring that grants extra slots?


    But that's enough. Moral of the story being don't get ants in your pants over 4e.

  13. The gameplay was still infinity engine gameplay which, lacking attacks of opportunity, the importance of which to 3E combat and feel cannot be overstated, spoiled attempts at the transition. Combat was pretty much as it had been in previous IE games(disarm?, knockdown/trip? sneaks? nope.). IWD2 had an excellent spell list, but many were home brewed and would have functioned just as well under 2E. Multiclassing is close to kits, which are just as good... people knew 'em from BG.


    Not sure what is meant by arbitrary. Unless case/switch functions are written in to make it appear arbitrary, the script will do the same thing every time. Likewise with swapping items and the "you have multiple items which grant deflection and they will not stack" message we've all seen a bazillion times. How is that arbitrary?

  14. JES NOTE: This topic was transplanted from the 4E thread in pen and paper. Please contribute your opinions on the terrible monstrosity that was IWD2 3E and the shining jewel of perfection that was 2nd Ed. in all other IE games.


    Sawyer has suffered a lot of harsh criticism over the years. Hell, some of my praise counts as such. ...But I've never known anyone from Gromnir to Sand to say that Sawyer didn't play it straight. By playing it straight, I mean giving honest and open opinions within the confines of his position. Please don't respond by saying you saw him double park.


    3E over 2E was an easy sell, for most people anyways, when you look at the state 2e was in by the late 90's with the goofy player option books and the now forgotten Birthright campaign... which with printing costs alone might have sunk the company. 4E over 3.5 will I think be a much harder sell, especially if they've done away with spell books and the way wizards learn spells, which I begin to suspect is what they mean by getting rid of Vancian magic. It can't be the once a day arcane powers, obviously, as that's about the same. And he's probably straight... whether normal or jack tripper straight I'm not sure... Hope he stays straight.




    What does that have to do with my opinion on the various editions of D&D? Do you challenge the BioWare devs' opinions on D&D by saying, "Neverwinter Nights, a 3E game with no bonus stacking rules"?


    It has nothing to do with it. It just shows a tendency to push the new system out the door, whether it's a good idea or not. At the time, in the waning days of BG2 throne of bhaal and the infinity engine it did seem a bit like jumping on a bandwagon attaching 3e rules to that old engine. And I prefer the way NWN does stacking. It's problem is having items boosting the same stat across multiple slots... ring of clarity and headband of intellect for intelligence for instance. With judicious loot drops and a bit of restraint you can work around that though.

  15. Come on, have you ever known the guy to pull punches in regards to this stuff?


    Sure. IcwindDale 2, a 3E game with no meta-magics. I'd call that pulling a punch right there. But the 3E bandwagon was rolling through town so people had to hop on I guess...


    Ooops, here comes the 4e bandwagon...

  16. Any observations on how gameplay is different?


    Be careful who you ask such a question of. Big difference between asking an enthusiast neutral on the issue, as opposed to one with a working relationship with the parent company(wotc), and who no doubt looks forward to a furtherance of the relationship as 4th ed crpgs inevitably pop up in the future. Will he say it stinks? Of course not. More likely he will be a 4th ed apologist.

  17. They should have left movement as is. Now, every piece will be a bishop trying to exploit long, diagonal trajectories whenever possible. Is it really that difficult to count every other diagonal as two? With a lawrence welk cadance(a one ee and a two ee and a) and any sort of attention span you should be alright. Difficult terrain is usually at a slightly higher, uniform value of 2 for straight and 3 for diagonal... less complicated in fact.


    Of all I've read about so far I dislike action points the most. They seem to have come from star wars force points (guess every character in d&d has the force now), and there is little in the way of logic to back them up. Under 3.5, if a character was granted an extra attack or move action there was a feat/spell/special ability backing it up. The Marshal's tactics or the snake's swiftness spell for instance. Also, these things are just for player character's? As an impartial arbiter, and in a world where the good and bad guys should be on a relatively level playing field, the DM has just seen the pcs given a distinct advantage. If not, then what a hassle trying to manage action points for every enemy the pcs face!

  18. They work well when, after arranged, you place a sheet of plexiglass over them. This gives a nice surface for rolling dice and moving figures on, and keeps the tiles in place of course. Else they have the tendency to get jostled around.

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