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David Rollins
Amateur Nerd, OSR apologist and tabletop polygamorist.
Amateur Nerd, OSR apologist and tabletop polygamorist.

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Here's something you might want to try this weekend. A new spell. I put it at first level because the damage is similar to the magic missile while being slower and limited to one target.

I get that it's a lot longer than the usual spell descriptions for TBH but it makes use of some of the unique mechanics of the system too.

Even Handed Betrayal

The left arm or forelimb of the target creature is transformed into a monstrous serpent. Anything held by that limb is dropped during the transformation. The serpent hits automatically every moment on the caster’s turn for damage according to the attack damage for the target creature’s Hit Dice. Larger, more formidable targets create larger, more horrifying serpents.

The serpent can be removed if the target or its allies do half the target’s HP directly to the serpent. Since the serpent is part of the target’s body, the target suffers this damage as well. Use the caster’s DEX to avoid damage.

The spell lasts for 1 moment per caster level. Severing the limb also ends the spell. After the spell ends the limb returns to normal. If it has been severed however, it remains that way.

I've been thinking about player vs player actions. It hasn't come up in my game yet but I think it's reasonable to be ready for it.

With all the rolls player facing there's not anything to cover resolving fights or other contests between Player Characters. I don't know how anyone else deals with it but I came up with something simple that should do the job.

Anytime two player characters want to oppose each other the players of each rolls a D20 and adds the opposing character's relevant stat. The lowest score wins!

It can be applied to multiple situations without a pile of rules! Melee combat would be a contest of Strength. Searching for a hidden party member would mean the searcher would add the hidden character's DEX while the one hiding would add the searcher's WIS to their roll.

Any thoughts? Anyone have something better they've tried?

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I've had my limit of controversy folks. I'm going offline for now, perhaps the rest of the long weekend, to focus on my family.

In the meantime, I will leave you with these thoughts from a great man...


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This weekend I discovered Sarah Horrocks and her art.

She's amazing!

If you've never heard of this artist, take a minute to check out her work. It's beautiful, evocative and speaks to a perspective I want to explore some more!

It seems every time Zak S is involved with a project in, or bordering on, the RPG industry a bunch of people lose their minds and start repeating stories about how he is some kind of horrible monster who is tearing up the RPG "community," harassing people out of the "industry" and sending a nerd army to eat your pets.

Every time it seems like there are less people spreading the stories, but it also seems like there are new people involved. People who are, for one reason or another, invested in the narrative.

If you go back it is not difficult to find that there not only is no evidence that Zak S abused anyone, you can actually find how it all started and then how it got out of control.

If you care to know the truth, go back to 2010. An issue of Maxim Magazine did a fluff piece on Zak's D&D group, who mostly worked in porn at the time. The article was pretty silly and seemed to be a reason to have photos of attractive women in varying states of undress rolling dice and playing with miniatures. Remember, it was Maxim magazine.

After the issue came out there was a Google Plus thread where a few bloggers took issue with the article because they felt it misrepresented the hobby and hurt them by creating an expectation where everyone playing D&D and the women in particular would be attractive. They said that this expectation reduced space in RPGs for not so attractive people and wrote some nasty things about, and even to, the women in Zak's group. Zak's defence of his friends was aggressive, yet understandable. The bloggers doubled down, moved to twitter, and the story of the caustic Zak began.

For several years, while Zak would defend the ladies in his group, he didn't appear to care what RPG people said about him online. That changed with the release of the 5th edition D&D.

The day that 5e D&D dropped two things caused an uproar. The first was the list of consultants on the new D&D of which Zak was one. The other was displeasure at the wording of the paragraph on inclusivity and diversity of players in the game.

The people that did not like Zak and a couple of others from the RPG blogosphere that were consultants objected to their inclusion in the design of the flagship game of the RPG hobby. The people that did not like the wording of the paragraph on making your game inclusive felt it was anti-transgender. All those people blogged, tweeted, posted, commented and reshared all at once.

The problem was the two stories blurred together and all of a sudden a few of these consultants were not just unpopular with a group of people, they were believed to be anti transgender.

How do you defend yourself against such a claim? You can't defend yourself without outing people you care about and who is going to do that? So Zak started showing up in these threads and demanding people explain where they got the idea he did the terrible things he was accused of. He demanded links and shared links to counter them because the story had become big enough to go beyond the RPG hobby. All of a sudden it mattered and continues to matter because it can affect his life, relationships and ability to get work outside of RPGs. So he makes certain that any place there is a lie about him on the internet there is also evidence refuting it. For a while it was like a full time job. I don't know when he found time to sleep.

When he does makes these posts he sticks to the argument. He fights the lie. He approaches every person as someone who is reasonable but misinformed. He works on the assumption that if they have all the information they can come to the correct conclusion. His detractors on the other hand call him an "abuser" or "monster" or "shit-goblin" or "voldmort." The fact they dehumanise him while he does not do the same is telling.

People who know him or feel he got a raw deal in this wole thing have pitched in to help spread the truth. Some of them have engaged in behaviours that are not OK like body-shaming or worse. Any time he's caught wind of it that I have seen he's taken them to task for it and told them to stop that behaviour. He may not have caught them all. Google Alerts can only do so much.

Because he has aggressively defended himself and other people who feel it's OK to attack people on the internet have 'sided' with him, Zak has developed a reputation as an abuser. Demanding people not say things about him that are not true seems to be the main reason people are still willing to say things about him that are not true.

It's a hell of a Catch-22 and every time I see something new come out by Zak S in RPGs I am amazed that he even bothers. I'm glad he does, but I don't think I would do it if I were him.

Zak S is not going to harass you out of the industry, but he will ask people to ignore the things you say if you are spreading misinformation about him. The fact is there isn't much of an industry, but a collection of niches so diverse it would be easy to never interact with Zak S or anyone that has ever heard of him while selling thousands of of your own books.

So maybe do that? Make games and not worry about some guy named Zak S?

Or even better, do a little digging and take a good look at it all.

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It's nice to see that the bigger companies can do their homework before they hire "controversial figures" and stick to their guns.

I like living in a world where the truth eventually wins.

In my game with the kids I threw out the weapon restrictions on day one. I didn't even mention them. I let them pick any weapon they want. It works well in LotFP and I thought it would work even better in TBH because damage is class based.

The players chose weapons for their characters based on the cool factor and we ended up with some odd combinations, like a Thief who uses a maul, but for the most part it shook out along the lines of the restrictions after a few sessions anyway.

The mage abandoned her bow in favour of her spells and now carries a pair of daggers to fight with so she has an extra in case she needs to throw one.

I've kept the armour restrictions in place. Heavier armour messes with thief skills and casting anyway.

Anyone else playing without the weapon restrictions? How has affected your game?

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When a ten-year-old girl says she wants her character to be stealthy AND use, "a great big hammer," the proper response is: "That is awesome!"

Then you draw it out for her custom character sheet so she never forgets how awesome it is!



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mmmmmmm... ketchup flavoured potato chips...
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Maybe if enough of us are testers we can hold on to the functionality that makes the RPG community hum.
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