Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Lover, Fighter, Thief: a simple spying ruleset

So I accidentally started writing a James Bond-y, Zorro-y, Scarlet Pimpernel-y sort of game and I thought I'd inflict it on you. I'm now struggling to remember how it happened.

I was definitely inspired by an episode of Improvised Radio Theatre with Dice - specifically episode 26, at around 48 minutes in. There's a brief discussion of using flavour and quirks to distinguish characters.

I think that I very much like... the idea that you have things that define your character that are not just about how good you are at adventurey stuff. They are about, you're greedy, or you're fond of a drink, or you're particularly smooth with the ladies or whatever. Okay, in some games that's going to be especially relevant...

Friday, 13 May 2016

Being Mean About Rangers, part 3: Homebrewing

Constructing a Ranger

So having spent all this time arguing that the ranger doesn't need or deserve to be a class of its own, and indeed that insisting on it is probably deleterious to the game as a whole... what if I had to make a ranger class?

What, if anything, do I think can stand out as unique selling points for the ranger?

These must be:

  • Sufficiently generic that they don't lock the ranger down into one character concept
  • Sufficiently flexible that they are regularly relevant in most campaigns; which is to say, you will actually get to use these features during the game session
  • Sufficiently related that they seem to form a coherent whole
  • Sufficiently visible that they manifest in the narrative. Phrased much less pretentiously, I mean they should be something you actually notice happening, because unless you actually notice it in play, it doesn't feel like a real part of the story.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Being Mean About Rangers, part 2: Spelling Tests and Typecasting

Last time, as you may recall, I was pretty comprehensively dismissive of the 5e ranger's claims to be a class, based on what I argued to be a rag-tag collection of attributes and some shonky fluff-crunch joints. In particularly, I feel most of its non-combat abilities are overly dependent on the campaign, and the DM's preferred style, for relevance.


What about the mechanical end? Rogues and barbarians are to a non-trivial extent defined by a specific class mechanic (sneak attack and rage respectively). Of course, these are strongly tied into their fluff.

Unfortunately I feel like the ranger is, in a sense, self-sabotaging.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Being Mean About Rangers, part 1: Decline and Fail

So I've been thinking about the Ranger a lot, because it's one component of my multiclass character. I ran into problems at 4th level when I realised taking several more levels of ranger would not meaningfully affect the feel of my character. I'm not going to delve into that because it's as inside baseball as you can get. But I do want to talk about rangers.

Discussing things with Dan, the conclusion I came to was that the ranger is a bit of a problem.

The ranger has a core mechanic which actively discourages you from using a large proportion of its other capabilities. It has an unusual proportion of features dedicated to the "exploration pillar" in a way which makes its relevance uniquely vulnerable to the campaign and the whims of the DM. It lacks a strong and coherent archetype to explain what the class is all about. And in place of a strong defining thematic mechanic that supports a range of concepts, it has a hodgepodge of abilities that encourage playing a specific character.

...dammit. This is going to be controversial.

Hi, I'm Shimmin Beg, and I don't think the Ranger needs to be a class.