have you even read the rulebook

Something Old, Something New – integrating less experienced players with more experienced ones

Hullo, gentle readers. In a recent call out for ideas, I got the following suggestion from my buddy DantePD of Twitter. “Advice on running a group that’s a mix of experienced players and first timers?” This is a super timely suggestion, as this weekend I will be playing (yes, as a player) in a friend’s new campaign, and one of our players is brand new to D&D.

Firstly, I want to say that I love introducing new players to D&D. Part of the fun of D&D is exploration, mystery, and the discovery of the new. If you don’t know that zombies don’t necessarily stay dead when you kill them, the moment of shock when they pop back up is fantastic. Even little monsters like kobolds and goblins can be exciting to encounter the first time you see them. You don’t know what they can do, and finding out can be a treat…even if it kills your character.

As the DM, you have a lot to do in a campaign. Helping a new player is an excellent task to delegate to a more experienced player, especially one that you feel has a good grasp of the rules and who can help instill good gamer habits in your new player. Ask one of your more experienced players to be a “Buddy” to the new player. Tirk, if you’re reading this, I volunteer to be Bob’s Buddy.

Now, to be clear, this isn’t an invitation to the Buddy to play two characters.  For the first few sessions, the Buddy might give advice on what to do, but, ideally, the Buddy should ask, “Well, what do you want to do?” and then help the new player understand how to handle that within the game’s rules. I have had players who want to give advice and offer the benefit of their experience and tactical brilliance, but you have to remind them that, if they want to direct the whole party in combat, they can just play a computer game or find a one-on-one campaign.

As DM, I also encourage you to be gentle at first, but eventually to take off the training wheels. For example, in earlier editions of the game, making a ranged attack or casting a spell while adjacent to a foe invited an attack of opportunity. At first, I would remind my players of that. I knew that many of them did not have the time to sit down and read the rulebook in full, and so I didn’t fault them for remembering D&D’s occasionally byzantine rule system. After a while, though, I wouldn’t remind them, and I would just have the monster make the attack. They got pretty good at remembering after that happening.

I always think it’s a good idea to solicit feedback from your players after a session, but I think it’s even more valuable to get the feedback from the new player. Did they have a good time? Was there anything that was confusing? Do they have any questions? You don’t have to answer all of their questions, but you can at least let them know that it’s something they’re not supposed to know yet. I’ve noticed that new players don’t always get that the more experienced players don’t know or understand everything about the mysteries of the game, so it’s okay to let them know that the questions they have are something no one understands yet. “Yes, it did seem odd that the orcish ships were sailing the flags of Summerlund, since Summerlings and orcs have been dire enemies for centuries. Perhaps when you speak with Lord Khristos in the next session, you can ask him about it.”

If you’re playing with multiple new players, but have some experienced players as well, I recommend physically splitting them up. If you can ask experienced players and new players to sit so that they’re more physically integrated, that can help avoid an “us vs. them” feel. It also gives the new folks someone more experienced to lean over and ask questions to during the session.

Taking the time to make your new players feel welcome and to help them feel supported will go a long way towards bringing them back session after session. Remember, we were all new players once; treat them the way you’d want to be treated.

I’ve been on a magical girl kick lately, spurred on by having read the rulebook for Princess: The Hopeful.  This isn’t news to most of you, but it’s a cool genre!  There’s a lot you can do with the basic premise of fulfilling my childhood magical princess warrior fantasies: you can play it for comedy, horror, romance, action, even philosophical exploration.  Of the things I’ve seen lately, 90s Sailor Moon holds up surprisingly well, Princess Tutu is a masterpiece, and Madoka does some really clever stuff with the style and plot twists.

So here’s a show I want: magical girls who turn into monsters!  There’s a vampire girl, a werewolf girl, a ghost girl, a robot girl, and lots of yokai girls.  Yes, Monster High kind of did this, but I want it in a fully fleshed out series with magic and action!

Please let me know if this already exists so I can watch it.

The 18 Most Rewarding 3e D&D Books for Pathfinder GMs (Part 4)

Rerun week continues here at The Daily Bestiary, with a “Best of” list I submitted to Reddit’s r/rpg subreddit last March.  We’re almost at the end, so please enjoy Part 4!

4) Oriental Adventures James Wyatt

Maybe one day, we’ll get a Dragon Empires hardcover. Until then, Oriental Adventures is a must-read.

This is a Core +1 book without a doubt—with all the new races, classes, feats, gear, spells, and monsters you need to run Asian-inspired adventures all in one place, including a setting in which to put all of them to use. (Although you’ll probably want Ultimate Combat for the Pathfinder-standard samurai and ninja, and the Dragon Empires Gazetteer or the Advanced Race Guide for races like the kitsune and tengu.)

What’s weird about this book is that the setting is a borrowed one—they teamed up with the Legends of the Five Rings folk to license Rokugan, which at the time Wizards also owned. This ends up being a good thing, though, as it lends the setting an automatic richness and loved-in-feel.

But it also contains plenty of races and classes that don’t belong in Rokugan. And that’s even more fantastic. It’s a book that encourages you to tinker under the hood—and then models how to do it for you: “We’re going to set aside all these demihuman races and just use the humans and rat creatures. And we don’t need all these spellcasters. Shugenjas will do, plus shamans for this one branch of the Lion Clan for a touch of mystery, and forget the wu jen entirely. But that’s just us—here’s the tool box; which ones do you want to use?” So if you want to recreate Kara-Tur, you can. You want to work the nezumi and korobokuru into Golarion, no problem.

Role-playing is constantly giving us more rules and monsters and goodies to put in our games. This is the rare case of a book encouraging us to play around and take a few things out—and making us feel empowered and excited for doing so.

Further reading: For best results, dig up Dragon #318 to convert the 3.0 OA to 3.5, which brings you a little closer to the Pathfinder standard. Then look for the compatible Rokugan books from AEG if you want to see the setting fleshed out some more. [Edit: One of them is sitting 75% read next to my bed.  Are we noticing a theme? Middle school me would be horrified to learn that adult me has so little time to read, and high school me would be horrified at the number of books I’ve only half-read. Sigh.]

3) Eberron Campaign Setting Keith Baker

Raiders of the Lost Ark meets The Maltese Falcon meets The Mummy meets The Name of the Rose. Wasn’t that the original pitch? [Edit: I still need to read/watch The Name of the Rose.  And I can’t remember if I ever saw all of The Mummy, though The Mummy Returns was surprisingly delightful.]

Aside from perhaps Dark Sun, no setting completely upended our expectations about what D&D could feel like than Eberron. Eberron was pulp adventuring. Eberron took magic seriously and combined it with technology for a steampunk (or at least spellpunk) feel. Eberron upended our expectations for D&D races and classes, added new concepts like the warforged and dragonmarks, and offered a whole world of adventure, not just a continent.

But why do you need this book? You have Golarion, right?

There’s a reason every major Pathfinder book has Wayne Reynolds on the cover. So did every major Eberron book. Eberron was about action and possibility—same as Golarion. Eberron promised, “If it exists in D&D, it exists in Eberron.” Golarion bills itself as “The best of all possible worlds.” So Eberron is Golarion’s spellpunk twin. The Eberron Campaign Setting is 300 pages of the same spirit, just at a different level of technology and with a slightly different rule set. Even if you never use a single feat or secret society or airship design from Eberron (but you will), you should read it for its spirit alone.

Further reading: As I said above, the Eberron books are uneven. Unlike the Forgotten Realms, which settled into three very comfortable rhythms for its sourcebooks (gazetteers, detailed exploration of a single theme, and linked adventures with some setting background), Eberron authors seemed to invent a new style for each book—from gazetteers (Secrets of Sarlona) to public and secret society write-ups (Dragonmarked) to in-depth city sourcebooks (Sharn: City of Towers) to little more than fleshed-out encounter options (Secrets of Xendrik). So browse before you buy, and see what books fit your gaming needs and reading style.

My original version of this entry was Books #3–#1 on the countdown, but I wanted to make this a five-day thing, so I did some reorganizing so that we’d have something to read tomorrow.  But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving you with a short entry!  Let’s ditch the italics and talk about some reader comments…

So jenna-darknight wrote:

All of the books so far are great.  I would have probably listed Stormwrack in place of Frostburn myself, but I’ve always loved seafaring adventures, even if I’ve never been able to maintain a sea game as a DM.

I can totally see that!  With some of the environment books, personal preference is definitely going to come into play—if you’ve been itching for a sea campaign, a book on alpine and polar adventures isn’t going to be as motivating.  In the end, I went with FB because I just thought it edged out SW in several categories: more compelling PC races and classes, a wider variety of monsters, more interesting encounter locations, etc.  But as a lover of Norse myths and saga, I’m also biased.  Stormwrack was certainly solid, and I’d recommend it for anyone who liked FB (whereas I’m more hesitant about recommending the rest of the environment-themed books, unless like me you’re a pretty diehard completist).

And filbypott had several thoughts, including:

Creature Catalog was actually the very first 3E-compatible book I encountered in a bookstore, before I even ran across Wizards’ core rulebooks, and I’m still sorry that I never got into Scarred Lands.

Like I said, I can’t recommend the Ghelspad and Termana gazetteers enough, especially in concert with the Creature Collections.  (Also, the fact that the gazetteers have largely held their value even used tells you something about their worth.)  Go look for them.  Also, the final gazetteer, Strange Lands: Lost Tribes of the Scarred Lands has been in my to-read pile since I finally tracked it down last year—if it’s good you’ll be the first to know.  [Edit: Remember that when I talk about “gazetteers,” I mean the hardcover campaign setting books; ignore anything with “Gazetteer” in the title if it’s not a hardcover.]

Finally, dr-archeville wrote a pretty comprehensive response (which you can check out here), including this line I wanted to spend some more time with:

[M]y group never played in Eberron (though we did use some stuff from it, like the Renegade Mastermaker prestige class from Magic of Eberron), and I was burned by too many early Eberron books that, as you say, were far too dry for what had been advertised as a noir/pulp/steampunk take on D&D.

Hopefully my suggestions encourage you to take another look.  After that, here’s where I’d go next: Sharn: City of Towers is pretty much a must-read too, though it may take you more than one read-through to find all the good stuff buried inside because of how it’s organized.  City of Stormreach is also great.  Originally I was worried it would tie too closely to the Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach game (which terrified me because I don’t game the video at all), but it ended up being quite a nice stand-alone book—one that made sure all the juicy fun was front and center, having learned from S:CoT.  Adding that to the books I’ve mentioned previously, that’s a total of eight Eberron books, which should keep you busy for a while. 

After that, see my above warning to browse before you buy.  The Eberron books lean heavy toward encounter sketches, drop-into-play NPCs, and role-playing prompts—which is great if that’s what you’re looking for, but can be jarring for anyone expecting a more traditional sourcebook.

I have more to say about the Eberron line—2+ single-spaced pages more, in fact, covering everything from setting philosophy to font choice—but I think that’s a conversation for another day.  I’ll see you the rest of you here tomorrow for Part 5!

Ravenclaws Realizing They Have Crushes on Members of The Other Houses (finally)

Hufflepuff: Why is this person in my corner? Last week they tried to talk to me while I was reading, and I was probably a bit ruder than I should have been…. But they just came back anyway. They’ve just been sitting there quietly every day since then. It made it so hard to concentrate. At least they brought a book this time… and we’re just reading quietly… together, I guess… Which is nice. I hate it when people try to talk to me when I’m reading, but I don’t necessarily want to be alone. Do they know that? Do they… want to be my friend? Oh God I’ve been staring and they’ve noticed. *blushes and looks back down at book*

*next day the Hufflepuff isn’t there*

Where are they? Why do I care? It was weird for them to sit there anyways. I don’t even know their name. *fidgets uncomfortably* It’s like I miss them or something… which is stupid. Is that them over there across the room? They’re reading alone… 

*gets up, walks over, and plops down next to Hufflepuff without making eye contact*

*Hufflepuff looks surprised, then breaks out into a huge smile*

*Ravenclaw buries face in book, turning red*

Shit

Gryffindor: Why am I even here right now? I don’t like any of these people… or being around this many people at all for that matter. I don’t know why I agreed to let them drag me here… Oh God, they’ve started dancing and they’re… so bad. Oh my goodness they are so bad. It’s an absolute spectacle… But… They don’t seem to care at all. They look so happy and relaxed. I wish I could have that kind of confidence. Oh no, they’re looking at me. No way. I am NOT dancing. 

*Gryffindor grabs Ravenclaw’s hand*

Fucking hell. My heart just jumped into my throat. Is it because I’m scared of dancing in front of people or…  *makes eye contact with smiling Gryffindor* Fuck. That’s not it at all. 

Slytherin: I can’t believe she gave me detention for reading in class. It’s not my fault it’s so boring. At least I wasn’t being disruptive. The other person in here with me definitely does not look like they just got in trouble for reading. They nearly look happy to be here. 

*There’s suddenly a very loud noise from the hall, causing the teacher to rush out. The Slytherin smirks and stands up, walking towards the window*

R: “Where are you going?”

S: “I’ve got forty-five minutes to kill. I’m going out.”

R: “Forty-five? You couldn’t possibly know that. You’ll be caught for sure!”

S: “I never get caught. Trust me.”

R: “Clearly you do, seeing as you’re here.”

S: *smirks* “Sometimes you gotta let yourself get caught for little stuff so they don’t go looking for the bigger stuff. You coming?”

R: “No… I’ll stay here. Thanks.”

*Slytherin shrugs and goes through the window*

Does that mean they caused the commotion outside? What do they mean by bigger stuff? There’s no way they can get the exact time right, they’ll definitely get caught. Honestly, I’d love to get out of here, but I certainly have no wish to get in even worse trouble. It’s not that I’m some rulebook-hugging loser. I just hate detention! They don’t even let me read! It’s just not worth it. I don’t trust myself enough to not get caught.

*About forty minutes go by and the Slytherin comes back in the window. The teacher comes in about a minute later, looking frazzled.*

Oh my God. They did it. Right on the dot. How??? I should have said yes. Their hair and clothes are kinda messy but their eyes are practically glowing. I wonder what they could’ve been up to. They look so alive. I want to have fun like that. Next time. Next time I’ll say yes.

*Slytherin winks at Ravenclaw*

Christ, I wanna do bad things with you. 

I wrote up these derby freshmeat tips for my league last year but I want to put them out for the wider derby community here. Skate hard and prosper 🤘🏻

1. Don’t be worried if you’ve never skated before or if your skating skills are rusty - a lot of veterans were in your exact position once before!

2. Don’t be scared to fall down or embarrassed when you do. Everyone falls over and you get used to it after a while.

3. Invest in good kneepads!! They are worth every dollar!!!

4. You don’t have to be super tough or at the height of fintness. So often I hear people saying they could never join roller derby for reasons that are so insignificant- give it a red hot go and TRY!

5. Learn how to NSO. Leagues love helpers and you’ll start picking up the rules a lot quicker than you would reading the rulebook.

6. Try to exercise off the track, even if it is as simple as going for a walk. Taking some time to maintain your fitness will help you on the track a LOT.

7. Hydration is super important before, during, and after training. What you put out in sweat you have to bring back in to your bod in water.

8. Don’t make excuses as to why you “can’t” do something. From my experience, we only say we can’t do something because of self-doubt when, really, we can probably do it!

9. Talk to everyone you meet - skaters in the grades above you, the refs and officials, our amazing trainers, and veteran skaters are usually very friendly and are keen to meet you.

10. Never let anyone tell you that you are not good enough or strong enough. You are incredible.

BONUS TIP! This isn’t Whip It, so don’t expect a magical training montage to bless you with the ability to pick up skills in the time span of one excellent song (•‿•✿)

To Be a Writer

I can’t even begin to express how hard it is to be a writer. 

You find yourself reading into the speckles on the pavement - why a fly  followed you into the elevator. Even the fact that I am writing this in green ink instead of back has already tarnished his passage for me. But I write on -

I have to.

You continuously hear of poetic justice, a license. Yet how is it justice when the places you breathe morph into a battleground, only to find this war you’re in is with yourself. My tears in the sun and laughter in the rain infuriatingly contradict everything the rulebook has to offer -

now I’m just ‘pathetic’. 

You can’t cap these thoughts. At night, you fall into a slumber with the hope of slipping away. But it’s no use. Your subconscious engraves the right thought, the right phrase onto your pillow - 

unwanted inspiration.


Mind, 

Heart, 

Body, 

It all hurts. 

How do I calm this storm? How can I let myself go?

Write. 


(repeat,

infinitely)

BBC vs. ACD: This is a Pointless Argument

I’ve had a couple people say things like “Jim can’t be alive and Mary can’t be Moran and Johnlock can’t happen because those are too big a deviation from ACD canon,” so I thought I’d address that.

Let’s list the huge deviations from ACD canon they’ve done already:

  • Mycroft is a major character (in ACD, he’s in 2 stories, and only a bit in those)
  • Jim is a major character (in ACD, he’s only in 1 story, plus mentioned in another one)
  • Sherlock and Mycroft have parents (in ACD, they’re never mentioned)
  • Totally rewritten John’s character – and they admit it
  • Totally rewritten Jim’s character (in ACD, he was basically just motivated by money and was much calmer and less amusing and less crazy, more like General Shan)
  • John’s wife shot and (temporarily) killed Sherlock – this is not a 21st century update; they could’ve made Mary a major character without having her shoot Sherlock
  • Jim is obsessed with Sherlock (in ACD, he’s only angry because Holmes is foiling his operation)

These are not updates for the 21st century or little twists on canon; these are fundamental changes. Having Sherlock text instead of sending telegrams is an update for the 21st century. Having Mary be a major character is an update for the 21st century. Having Sherlock and Mycroft’s relationship be a major feature is not. It’s an artistic choice Mofftisson made simply because they wanted to. They didn’t have to do that. They wanted to do that. And it’s a big change from ACD. 

Jim being alive, Mary being Moran, or Johnlock happening are no bigger deviations from ACD than the bullet points above, which they’ve already done.

Then there are two even more significant changes from ACD:

  • ACD Sherlock Holmes stories are episodic – basically the same thing happens in every one; they don’t build on each other. You can read them out of order and it still works. In BBC, you wouldn’t understand what was happening if you watched TRF before TGG or any other combination.
  • Sherlock has character development in BBC.There’s no real character development in ACD. In BBC, Sherlock’s relationships with the other major characters changes because Sherlock changes. In ACD, he mostly doesn’t.

These are not changes that they had to make. These are changes that they wanted to make. Granada Holmes follows the episodic pattern and there’s not much character development. So clearly Mofftisson are not making a strict adaption of ACD like Granada did. That means they can do whatever the hell they want, and clearly they have already done whatever the hell they want, judging by the first set of bullet points.

This is what Mark Gatiss has to say about ACD vs. BBC:

Just because it’s in the [original Conan Doyle] stories doesn’t mean it’ll happen in the [Sherlock] series, because there’s an awful lot of changes and an awful lot of places to go and things to do. […] It should be clear by now that while, of course, Doyle is our absolute god, we have gone quite a long way away as well - we’ve introduced Sherlock and Mycroft’s parents [for instance]; I don’t think they’ve ever been seen in any adaptation - so there are lots of surprises to come.”

“Some of them are based much more on the original stories than others, but the bulk of His Last Vow … most of it is new. Most of The Great Game, The Blind Banker, they are new stories. We have never really thought about it in that way. We pick and choose bits and pieces and sometimes, as a rule of thumb I’d say the original story could make the first 15-20 minutes of a 90 minute episode. After that you are on your own. They’re already largely new.

Steven Moffat repeatedly trashes the idea of “authenticity” to ACD:

“The great thing … [is] we can do it any way we like. We can change the rules; we can shock you with what we do. So don’t assume that we are going to do everything according to the rulebook. We are at times throwing it away. So it might be frightening - brace yourselves for shocks.”

“Authenticity is for textbooks.”

You don’t have to agree with him, but he’s clearly not beholden to being “true to ACD.” He thinks that’s a stupid idea.

If you’ve actually read ACD, the stories are pretty dull. As I’ve said, there’s little to no character development, and the same thing happens in every one. The mysteries are definitely not up to par with today’s standards - very rarely does Holmes even actually solve the mystery: he just pokes around until the criminal/housekeeper/someone says “I think the best hope for justice is if I tell you everything.” The reason Sherlock Holmes is still popular is because of the relationship between Holmes and Watson. That’s the part Mofftisson care about, and that’s the part they’re interested in exploring:

“… the heart and the soul of [Sherlock Holmes] isn’t just Sherlock Holmes. That’s really, really important. It’s the friendship between Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson … [You fall in love] with the fact that they adore each other …” 

Mofftisson manipulate and rewrite the rest of ACD canon to enhance that relationship: John’s wife is a villain; Mycroft and Sherlock’s relationship echoes Sherlock and John’s; Jim tries to burn Sherlock’s heart out using John.

This is not really a retelling of ACD (although you could certainly say that this Sherlock is much more like ACD Holmes than many). BBC is, in fact, not very similar to ACD at all. It’s a story with a beginning, middle, and end, which ACD never had. Mofftisson have already changed the basic structure of the story from episodic to plot-arc. This is a fundamental change in the way the story is written because there’s now an end-point. ACD didn’t have an end-point. He tried to end it several times and kept bringing it back. Because it has a story arc instead of episodic, there are some innate things the story now contains, mainly: there’s a main villain (Jim) to be defeated at the end, and the main relationship (Sherlock and John’s) has to end up somewhere.

anonymous asked:

do you think in a college au where jack and grey are roommates jack would guilt grey into getting a cat or something like he brings home a stray or something

Other way around. Jack’s actually much better at realizing there are a lot of stray cats in the world, and you can’t adopt all of them. Grey, though– if there’s a little black cat with a crooked tail and a jaunty limp who follows him home from the library because he “accidentally” dropped half his tuna sandwich for it, well… the kid’s not gonna have a chance. 

And while Jack can resisted the pitiful mews and/or smug purring of small homeless felines, he’s much less effective against coming home to find Grey fast asleep with a cat sprawled across his chest, purring madly and enthusiastically cleaning his chin with its rough lil cat tongue. 

And he’s even less effective against Grey startling awake, then visibly stilling so he doesn’t startle the cat, and then trying to have the “oh god she just followed me home, i’m sorry, i know it’s not allowed, dorm rules, i didn’t actually read them but, i know rulebooks seem like something i would have read because you know reading but this is a false assumption, i mean, i read interesting things, that’s an important qualifier, but i did notice the no-pets thing, but she followed me home, and what are we going to do, jack don’t be mad” conversation while lying flat on his back and minimally waving his hands around, because the cat’s finished licking him and is now curled up and asleep on his chest instead. 

(Rupert helps them get the cat registered as a therapy pet. (While everyone is going to pretend this is a falsehood, both of these boys legitimately need a therapy pet, honestly, so that’s fine.))

anonymous asked:

So I don't know how weird of a request this is but since the Olympics ended I've been weirdly into sports; mainly speedskating but they race like two days a year so I followed a bunch of hockey blogs to keep me distracted (and it might've been finding out that people actively wrote fanfics about sports what). But I know nothing about hockey, and I don't know anyone who does (which is shameful because I'm Canadian). This is just lots of unnecessary back story, but: how does one get into hockey?

Hello lovely anon! Here are few steps:

  • Watch hockey. It sounds stupid but it’s true. There is no better way to learn about the world of hockey than actually watching the sport.
  • Here is a place you can watch pretty much every game, for free.
  • Read the rules. Not necessary (don’t feel guilty if you can’t memorize the whole rulebook) but it sure does help a lot when you’re familiar with them! 
  • Every team’s site (which you can access through the NHL website) has a video section. There is literally no better way for me to learn players’ names than seeing their face a few times. Although post game interviews are quite repetitive and not that interesting, every team posts cute videos like Q&As, vlogs, challenges, reports on their different activities and outings in the city… Some teams even have documentaries and TV shows! I encourage you to watch those.
  • Follow the players on twitter so that you won’t miss any shenanigans. (Seriously, it’s worth it.) Oh and the teams.
  • Read blogs. There are plenty to chose from. You’ll keep up with what’s going on in the hockey world, discover new players and it might be a little easier to discuss with other fans!
  • Speaking of which, discussion is so important! There are tons of hockey fans on and offline. Sharing is learning! I’ve made so many new interesting friendships through the hockey community. Don’t be shy even if you don’t know much, it will always be a pleasure for us to answer your questions. (If someone looks down on you for not knowning something, then they’re dickheads you don’t need as friends. None of us was born with infinite hockey knowledge.)
  • Stats are a big part of the game and no matter how boring they can be to some people (including me), they do help when you’re trying to analyze things. First, learn how to read them. Then you can check them every once in a while on stats website such as NHL Numbers or the NHL Website.
  • Have fun! It’s just a game in the end, eh?