Sunday, May 31, 2009

Campaign Idea

The adventuring cleric was always a D&D concept I found a bit odd... why would a holy man go on adventures, usually with a band of thoroughly non-religious ne'er-do-wells in search of gold and glory? Though many versions of many players handbooks throughout the years have mentioned time and again about a cleric advancing his temple/deity/cause's interests, how often does your average DM or player actually do anything of the sort?

Funny, I do believe I heard a cricket, just now.

In my experience, the cleric is typically the only adherent to his deity, or in fact any deity, in a given adventuring party. It always caused me to wonder who actually tends to the temples when the clerics are out adventuring? I have seen it suggested that most priests are 0-level and that only special priest become the spellcasting, undead turning clerics, but if that where the case, would these uncommon and valued members of the temple be allowed to simply meet up with a band of grubby strangers in the nearest tavern and set out into the Wilderlands or wherever? If you think about the level of medical technology present in most D&D game worlds, do you think the powers that be would be keen on the only reliable magical healers stepping out to risk their lives against bandits and orcs?

So, in my campaign I have decided that the kingdom where we lay our scene, Avengard, is dominated by one monotheistic religion: the Temple of Aldurn. Aldurn is a Lawful Good deity who does not recognize other deities as such, but merely as minor demons and celestial creatures unfit for worship. The Temple of Aldurn is very much like the medieval Catholic church. The clerics of Aldurn are temple soldiers and healers, and generally they only go on adventures in the service of the temple. They are not really given any time to start up a freelance adventuring career, and adventures with non-clerics or non-paladins would certainly be forbidden.

However, just because the Temple is the official state religion doesn't mean that other religious orders of other deities don't exist, however, they are not allowed to build temples in the cities, nor are they allowed to gather in more than very small numbers, making it impossible to establish anything other than local shrines in minority quarters or out in rural areas. These groups did (and do) have clerics, who are more free to do as they please. Adventuring clerics, in other words, are those clerics of temples long banned and ousted when the conquering Gahlnic Empire brought the Dictum of Aldurn from the north. In the centuries since Gahln broke apart, many of these forgotten orders have began to emerge once again. Lacking much in the way of structure, many of these clerics have grown accustomed to wandering as lone advocates of their deity.

...and of course, let us not forget the pagan druids, who simply withdrew into the woods and waited for Gahln to pass into history, as every empire of man is fated to do.

It's Like They Aren't Even Trying Anymore

This post is about twelve hours late, but it has been a busy day.

After my earlier acquisition of the Rolemaster treasure trove, our intrepid crew bounced from the used bookstore to the local gaming/comic/anime store. Therein, while the wife was browsing Pride and Prejudice comic books (I shit you not), I was overcome by that sort of curiosity that normally only comes up when one is driving past a multiple car pile-up on the interstate. I had to take a gander at the official D&D 4th edition miniatures. The hero figures, they touted, were now open and visible and you could see what you were buying! (Fucking imagine that) least three of the models were palette swaps of the older D&D Minis game. Ah, I noticed a fairly generic mini I used to use for spellcasters once upon a time... well, apparently so did WotC, because now she has a slightly different coat of paint and is in the arcane heroes pack.

Rock n' Roll, WotC!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

That's How I Rolemaster

I was perusing the shelves of a used bookstore with the missus and a friend of ours today when said friend plucked from the shelves a boxed set of Rolemaster, 2nd edition. Though I have only heard generally negative things about it, I am a rabid, uncontrollable collector of old gaming things, plus it was only fifteen bucks for a set containing Character Law/Campaign Law, Arms/Claw Law, and Spell Law.

First impressions: Holy charts, Batman!

Second impression: Holy fucking charts, Batman!

Although I am loathe to use Ron Edwards' terminology, this seems like a Fantasy Heartbreaker of the first order. (In fact, Character Law recommends swiping AD&D's magic system for the poor soul who is without Spell Law) I get the impression that the authors had houseruled an AD&D game to the point where it wasn't AD&D, and eventually it became Rolemaster. I have absolutely nothing to back this up, it is just the vibe I get from the game.

It will likely be a long time before I'm able to devote time to wading through the complexity and the hot chart action, as I am starting my AD&D1 game in eleven days.

...gah, I'm running out of space on the gaming shelf. I have nobody to blame but myself.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ya better run, Charles!

So, today I decided to stop jerking my potential players around and give them a start date: June 9th, two weeks from today. If I don't just kick myself in the ass, I'm going to over develop my world and I'm never going to get started.

I could determine such details as the proper name of every language spoken in the world, or how many bakers are in the capital of Oerlund, but I know that if I descend too deeply into simulation mode, I will never return. This is why I envy DMs who have a campaign world they've used for the last thirty years. Note to self: Keep this campaign world, if only for any future AD&D1 games I might happen to run.

So, the fire is now lit firmly under my ass. Time to get less macro and more micro.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Some Thoughts

I have read the recent back and forth and I am not going to get into it. I'm not actually interested in defining "old school." If you want to try it, pull up a chair to my AD&D game I'm starting. If you like it, great. If you don't, well... go back to whatever it is that ballasts your submarine. Say hi to the PHB3 for me.

The discussion has, however, stirred up some related thought tangents:

AD&D First Edition books started hitting the shelves in 1978. I was't even a glimmer in my pappy's eye at that time. When I started gaming, it was 1991 and AD&D 2nd edition was in full swing.

So, how can my preference of AD&D 1st edition be nostalgia? How can I be nostalgic for something I never experienced when it was contemporary? If in fact my desire to play rpgs of the old style were fueled by nostalgia, why wouldn't I retreat to 2nd edition, or perhaps the Rules Cyclopedia I got for my 12th birthday? Why did I drop money on Gamma World 2nd edition when 4th edition was what I actually played in my youth?


Today I was lurking in the gaming section of the local Half Price Books, as I am wont to do. There has been a copy of Palladium's Nightspawn core book sitting there for at least several months now. In fact, it might be upwards of a year now.

I hate the Palladium rule system with an intense, burning passion. I hate the rules so damn much that I cannot run a Palladium game. Why oh why did they get the Robotech license? (Short answer: because they paid for it)
...and why does Nightspawn need rules for tactical military gear? In a game about sorcery and occult forces and crazy ass shape shifters... do I really need page space dedicated to the stats for night vision goggles?

Despite hating Palladium, I do have a copy of Ninjas & Superspies, which I think I bought just to prove to myself that it exists and it isn't some hallucination or joke.


Which reminds me... why are there rules for aerial vehicle combat in All Flesh Must Be Eaten? I guess they only take up one column on one page, but still... has anyone ever run a game of AFMBE and actually had this come up?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

More House Rule Resolutions

-Barbarian has been reworked. He no longer refuses to associate with spellcasters, but refuses magic from them. (Clerics until level 2, Magic-users until level 6 or whatever is in Unearthed Arcana) Beneficial spells are refused. If a spell is cast on him against his will, he has to save vs. spell to avoid attacking the caster. (Though if it's a comrade he generally won't kill him, just hurt him until restrained)

-No summoner class to start, though I may write up one eventually.

-No variant clerics. Most of the known kingdoms of humans worship a monotheistic religion. There might be other religions, but the clerics will be mostly the same.

-The cleric is still around, though I am working on a mystical healer class. This class doesn't have much appeal to the players, but I might have them around in the setting for hire.

-No injury table, but the PC can save vs. death with a penalty to fight on after reaching 0 or negative hp. Characters at -hp have a chance of dying, worsening, or remaining the same every round until tended to. Monsters and NPCs might die at zero automatically per DM's discretion.

-Nonweapon Proficiencies will be handled using a bastardized version of the Hackmaster skill system. These are meant to provide a little flavor/background more than anything. Characters use the base BP of their Hackmaster equivalent class and can buy only skills. Many of the skills are unavailable, particularly parody skills (Advanced Looting), Combat Procedures, and other skills at my discretion.

So, of my original list (which I have been updating), that leaves only two things to take care of: rewriting the bard to be a 1st level class, and language diversity. So far I've made up a few languages and decided to take the bard mainly from 2e and Hackmaster, though his spell list needs to be reworked. (I want the bard to be more druidic and not just use magic-user spells.) A book I am currently reading on the history of the English language is tempting me to make the languages far more complex than they need to be. I think I can reign that in, though I at least would like to name the languages instead of having them be "orc" or "giant" or whatever.

Now that most of this is taken care of, it is time to get serious about world building. I think I'm going to take the bottom up approach this time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cheating...just a little.

If I start world building, I often don't know when to call it good and just start the damn campaign already. Luckily, S. John Ross has an excellent article on medieval demographics, and there is also a calculator based on the article to do the math for you. Just plug in your town names and you have a good chunk of the work done for you. I've used this to stat up the two kingdoms of Avengard and Oerlund for my campaign world.

Truth be told, I love online map and world generators. A page called Irony Games once hosted my favorite map generator, but it has since been swallowed into the Stygian depths of the Internet and I have yet to find a suitable (and, more importantly, free) replacement.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quick House Rule Resolution

No Social Class.
I can see that some players might enjoy the detail, (or just be hoping that they start out high class and have more money) but right now the way I see adventurers, they exist outside the normal social structure. They generally have no roots, establishing them only when they are powerful enough to build a stronghold. For the most part, they do not engage in any useful trades. (Unless you count thuggery and pillaging ruins as useful trades, that is)

Basically, the characters are small scale mercenaries and treasure hunters until they amass enough wealth and power to become landholders. Most normal folk do not enjoy that kind of upward mobility... then again, normal people don't slog through dank corridors filled with pit traps and gelatinous cubes, or hang around the tavern hoping to get hired to trounce bandits.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Regrettable Conclusion

Yesterday, while we were setting up the Sunday game, we were trying to decide on the cosmology of the setting. During the discussion, I came to the conclusion that I am tired of Lovecraftian Mind Destroying Elder Gods. I'm tired of Unknowable-Squamous-Tentacled-Things-With-Crazy-Ass-Names-From-Beyond-Time-And-Space. They have seeped into geek/gaming culture so much that, for me at least, their potency has been watered down. Lovecraft has become almost a genre unto itself, perpetuating a series of tropes and conventions that have become overexposed.

Don't get me wrong, I do like Lovecraft. Don't take my dice bag away just yet. I'm sure I'll be back into the fold soon enough, for for now give me some deities that are maybe just ambivalent jerks and who won't blast my mind into a thousand pieces for looking at them. Hell, give me a genuinely benevolent deity for a change.

...and that's what diversity means to me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Campaign: Sorcerer

Today the group that I previously played Swords & Wizardry with reassembled. The DM wants to give Sorcerer a try, setting it in a grim fantasy world similar to an anime called Berserk. (Of which I have seen only one episode several years ago) I don't think we're running an anime-style game so much as we are borrowing the premise. I created a desert nomad healer/alchemist type who was branded and exiled for pursuing "unclean" sorcery, which he did to gain a better understanding of medicine.

Now, Sorcerer is normally more new school than I generally care for, but I like the group and the DM runs a pretty solid game, plus there seem to be enough rules to keep the "g" in "rpg." You'd never catch me playing something like Gray Ranks or Nobilis, because that's just not where my interests are and games like that are so far removed from what I define as a roleplaying game that I can't even consider it to be the same type of activity as playing, say AD&D or Deadlands or really anything else that is on my shelf. I can see enough structure in Sorcerer to relate to it, so what the hell, let's give it a shot.

I have run my NWoD game three times, though I have not posted about it. Honestly, the people following this blog are probably not the least bit interested in it.

On the other hand, I've about finished ironing out AD&D and I think I'll just post a link to the Google Document when it is finished, much as I did in the previous entry with my acrobat class writeup. I have now had ten people profess interest in playing, which is really more than my house can accommodate. However, I'm imagining that, from previous experience, only about half of the people who profess interest actually have any, and I'm leaning towards having it on a weeknight, which will probably preclude some people from playing. I wish life weren't so busy sometimes... I'd love to have everyone able to play, and honestly if I had the space at home and if everyone had the time, I'd give it a shot. I'm hoping to start the game in June.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Acrobat, Part II Revised

Thinking it over further, I am posting my Acrobat class here. Feel free to pick this apart or make suggestions. The question is: Would you want to play this class, or could you see someone wanting to?

Edit: I can't seem to format this right at all. I think I'll throw it on google docs, but that will have to wait until I get home.

The Acrobat
Hit Dice: d6 per level up to 9th level. After 9th level, acrobats receive 2 hit points per level

Races Permitted: Any (as thief)

Weapons Permitted: Hand axe, bo stick, caltrop, club, dagger, garrot, jo stick, knife, lasso, sap, scimitar, spear, quarter staff, long sword, short sword, whip, blowgun, short bow, hand crossbow, light crossbow, javelin, sling, staff sling, dart, poison (if evil), flaming oil

Armor Permitted: Leather (not studded) only, no shield

Requirements: Str 15, Dex 16. An acrobat with both strength and dex higher than 16 earns 10% bonus experience. Both strength and dexterity are considered prime requisites for the acrobat.

Acrobats may be of any alignment, though many, through their associations with thieves, tend toward neutrality or even evil. Few acrobats are lawful.

Acrobats have the following special abilities:
-Tightrope walking, Pole Vaulting, High Jump, Standing/Running Broad Jump, Tumble Evasion, Tumble Falling as described in Unearthed Arcana.

-Thief skills: An acrobat may climb walls and move silently as a thief of the same experience level. An acrobat may also pick pockets and hear noise as a thief three levels lower.

-Acrobats are accomplished in the art of throwing. They receive a bonus to hit of +1 per five experience levels on all attacks made with thrown or hurled weapons. In addition, at the fourth level, an acrobat may specialize in one particular type of thrown weapon as if he were a fighter. The specialization benefits supercede the to hit bonus for that particular weapon. At 8th level, the acrobat may specialize in a second thrown or hurled weapon, or may double specialize in the weapon taken at 4th level. Note that the acrobat is still required to spend the necessary proficiency slots to specialize or double specialize.

-Tumble Attack: An acrobat's combat style is very fluid and often confounding to an opponent. Every round that an acrobat engages an opponent in melee, he may make one of his attacks a tumble attack. In addition to the normal to-hit chance, there is a percentage chance that the acrobat will force the opponent into a compromising situation. An opponent so affected receives no bonus from Dexterity or Shield on their next action, all attacks made are at a -2 penalty, and if they move more than one half their movement rate, they must save vs. petrification or fall prone. Note that the percentage is rolled even if the acrobat's original attack misses. The acrobat can fluster only one such opponent per round, and opponents who are non-intelligent, constructs, or undead are generally not effected. On a natural 20, the percentage is doubled in addition to any beneficial effects of a 20 your DM may have devised.

-Tumbling Movement: An acrobat is trained at quickly traversing adverse terrain by jumping, handspringing, and otherwise clearing obstacles. Starting at 3rd level, adverse terrain only affects an acrobat one category worse then normal. (For instance, terrain that allows only 1/2 movement would allow the acrobat 3/4 movement, while terrain that allows 3/4 movement would not hinder the acrobat at all) At 9th level, this improves two steps, such that terrain that would normally slow a character by half does not hinder the acrobat, and even terrain that would normally slow a character to 1/4 will allow the acrobat to move up to 3/4 normal speed.

The ability tables and experience table for the Acrobat follow (I apologize for the ugly format, but it's just a rough draft.) The tables regarding armor, race, strength, and dex from Unearthed Arcana all apply to the acrobat.

Edit: The acrobat's tables can be found here: Acrobat!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Contemplation: Thief-Acrobat vs. stand alone Acrobat

I like the idea of the Thief-Acrobat. However, I'm sort of stuck on the idea of making it a class unto itself rather than a "split class specialist" (I believe that is the term used in UA.) Last night I was tinkering with the class, and wrote it up as a level 1 to level 20 class unto its own right rather than starting at level 6 and progressing to level 23.

I was going to post it, but then I took a second look at the class and thought, "Is this something that someone would really want to play?" As written, the thief-acrobat is a thief who has traded some abilities for others. However, as a stand alone class, the acrobat is just a guy who can propel himself through the air in various ways. Ok, he has a few abilities beyond that, but you get the idea.

Perhaps I will post the class as I have written it up, but from where I'm sitting now, it just doesn't seem like something that stands on its own very well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Filling in the Blanks/Hybridization

A few months ago, I posted about the brief Swords & Wizardry game I was in. One of the posts addressed how our group used Labyrinth Lord to "fill in the blanks" of missing or incomplete information, or at least to consult it before making a ruling. As I prepare for my AD&D1 game, I find that I am doing this with, of all things, Hackmaster. For instance, I am using the monk AC/Open Hand tables, as I think the 1st level monk being AC 10 is a bit silly. I might take 2e's proficiency rules, at least in some form, or Hackmaster's skill system. I also have a skill system sent to me by a fellow blogger I need to review. The equipment lists in HM are more extensive and I plan to use them as well.

In short, I find that I am taking things from a variety of sources to fill in the blanks. My game will be some kind of freakish hybrid of several editions and systems. I suppose this is probably true of just about any game that has ever been played.

I Love Gaming

When I got home from work yesterday, I was delighted to find both Arcana and Battlesystem on my doorstep.

As I rooted through the Battlesystem box, trying to sort out all the counters and such, I found a folded up, handwritten note. It said: "I search the dead wizard that Victor was playing."

The wife was very amused. "Poor Victor," she said.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Hoarding Continues

Copies of Unearthed Arcana and BATTLESYSTEM are due on my doorstep any day now.

My prior resolution failed a saving throw vs. disintegration.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

House Rules, First Resolutions

These are in no particular order for now. I will rearrange them later. I will also update my original post about house rules, crossing them off as I go.

1. There will be no berserker class. I read over the berserker presented in Hackmaster, with the intention of stripping out the parody stuff. However, as I read, I realized that the berserker doesn't really add anything to the game. If I were running a "savage" type fantasy world or one with a heavy Norse flavor, I might consider it, but I have decided against it for this game.

2. Weapon Speed: Matthew Stanham made an excellent point in the commentary of my last post; weapon speed mucks things up a bit too much when characters aren't attacking. Rereading the PHB, I find that weapons speed might actually work as written for first edition: once you are engaged in melee with someone (generally on the second and following rounds of combat) you get bonus attacks if someone's weapon speed is much higher than yours... so the awl pikeman might want to consider dropping it in favor of his shortsword when the enemies break the line. I also like that the author suggests common sense override hard and fast rules with regards to weapon speed. For instance, if a character with a dagger is charging a pikeman, the pikeman should get first shot at him, regardless of initiative. Problem solved. Casting time will still modify initiative, however... and I might rule that if casting time exceeds the opponent's weapon speed, they might get a chance to hit you and disrupt your spell.

3. Weapon type vs. AC will be used as written, now that I have read the note at the bottom of page 28 of the DMG. It kind of makes the table in the PHB seem a little obtuse, but it seems to suggest what lots of folks in the blogland have being doing: treating them as classes/types of armor rather than the numbers. AC9 on that table refers to an opponent protected only by a shield; it does not describe an unarmored opponent with a -1 Dex adjustment.

I want to reiterate that I am using speed factor and AC modifiers to make the choice of weapon tactically important and interesting. Growing up, I always though it was a damn shame that we had all those weapons and the only thing anyone ever used was a longsword. (Mace if cleric, staff if spellcaster)

4. Rangers and paladins cannot use scrolls unless they learn the druidic and clerical spell writing systems, discussed previously. Given that druidic is a secret tongue, this makes it quite unlikely that rangers will learn to use druidic scrolls, though they still learn to use druidic spells. However, they can use magic-user scrolls, since they learn the magical writing system to prepare their spellbooks.

5. Elves, and halflings can be druids, but not clerics. Dwarves, gnomes, and half-orcs can be clerics but not druids. Humans and half-elves can be either clerics or druids.

6. Light crossbows do 2d4 damage. Heavy crossbows do 2d6 damage.

7. All characters receive maximum hit points at first level. The exception to this is the ranger, who receives 8 +1d8 hit points. Beginning at 2nd level and continuing until 9th, all characters will roll their new hit die and accept the results. After 9th level, characters will gain hp as described for their class.

8. No exploding damage die/penetration.

More later.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

House Rules for AD&D 1st Edition

I am currently gathering interested players to play in a campaign of AD&D, 1st edition. However, before I run the game, there are some things I am going to need to iron out. I will use this blog as a sounding board to the solutions I think of. Currently, I'm digging through the books in search of things that don't make sense or that I find lacking. I addressed the first of these on a fairly recent post about magical writings and the read magic spell.

-The bard needs to be reworked to be a character class playable from 1st level. He should have druid spells primarily, but I can see including a few appropriate things like charm person or command.
-The barbarian needs to be reworked to play well with the spell casters. He will not have a berserk ability.
-Possible inclusion of a berserker class
-Possible inclusion of a summoner/conjurer class, possibly non-magical in nature
-Rangers and Paladins can use the appropriate scrolls (possible, not for sure)
-Option on replacing demi-human clerics with druids, with the exception of the half-elf, who should have either option.
-Option on variant clerics by deity
-Option on removing the cleric entirely in favor of a more "casterly" priest type class

-Characters get max hit points at first level
-Weapon Type vs. AC needs to be cleaned up. I do want to use it, though, to make weapon choice matter. Also, Trollsmyth's recent post on the Warrior's Kit has the wheels turning in my head. Maybe something similar to 2nd edition's table.

-A friend of mine homebrewed an injury table based on damage type. I feel like this is something that could be looked into.
-Crossbows need to be better than bows. Options I'm thinking include more damage (Alexis from Tao of D&D went that route) or possibly rolling additional damage dice on the roll of max damage. (Expoding dice)
-Option on all weapons rerolling on max damage, with crossbows or similar weapons penetrate on max and max-1, so they'd reroll on a 5-6 on 1d6.

-Characters do not automatically fall unconscious or die at 0 hp, but hits render injuries or incapacity based on a chart a la Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
-Weapon Speed and Casting Time factors into initiative. Option on the Hackmaster rule where initiative over 10 carries over into the next round. Some small weapons like daggers might have negative weapon speed

-More language diversity (not one common tongue, generally)
-No alignment tongues (Though secret languages such as druidic, Thieves' Cant, etc.)
-Nonweapon proficiencies. Option on basing this off the Hackmaster skill system but removing the "parody" skills. (Actually the skill list will probably get a large pruning) Not 100% on this yet.
-Option on social class for characters, possibly imported from Oriental Adventures or Hackmaster

More as they occur to me, and I will post my solutions or rethinkings as I tackle them.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Optimization Can Suck Me

Perhaps I could have chosen a slightly more mature post title, but its my blog and I can be twelve if I want to.

When I was a kid, we didn't give a shit about optimization. Everyone made the character they wanted and we didn't worry about the balance between a mage and a cleric, or that a halfling thief was better than a dwarven thief or which kits or non-weapon proficiencies were better than the others or any of that crap.
It never occurred to us that a mage can eventually do everything that a thief can do through the use of various spells, but then again I don't think we were looking for that, either.

I forget who exactly it was, but recently someone around this neck of the blogwoods said that character creation in some games (particularly latter editions of D&D) is sort of a sub-game unto itself. for the last few years, I have grown increasingly disinterested in that.

A few years ago, I used to host an small online group for rpg discussion. One fellow I used to debate with, a fan of editions the third and after, would often brag about his ability to "break" the game. For him, the most enjoyment one could get was making the fiddly bits of the system do your bidding and create the most effective character possible. (I covered this in an earlier post about Build Mentality.) Classes, feats, anything became valuable only for it's mechanical contribution to a game. A barbarian's rage became just a set of bonuses. Everything in the game is divorced from conceptual meaning into just a set of numbers that plug into a set of numbers. I want a character's class to mean something in game.
I don't want to dig through fifty books to make a character that can roll with the shit in the latest Monster Manual. I don't want to play in, or run, a game where supplements become some kind of crazy arms race. (My RIFTS loving friends tell me similar tales of woe regarding splatbook creep) I don't want to be punished because I took the feat Pummeling Blow when I should've taken Face Gouge, which is objectively better.
I suppose these reasons are why I have retreated far back into D&D antiquity and seem poised to stay there, at least as far as D&D goes. (I actually vastly prefer the new White Wolf games, if only because I don't have to put up with constant quotes from The Spiral Dance and Joy Division lyrics in my goddamn game books. Not that I have anything against Joy Division, but come on.)

I do plan to houserule the game...I'm not entirely opposed to fiddling with the rules, but I don't plan to create subsystems that have to be "mastered" by the players.

I suppose people have different goals when they play The Game. Some of us are concerned with exploration and interaction in a fantasy world, and some of us want to make a character that totally kicks ass, Vin Diesel style.