The “Triviality” of Death in 3E and the 5,000 gp Diamond Cost

It’s an interesting thought on the cost of Raise Dead (and the like). I think I’m a fan of leaving dead it’s own adventure after this.

Sean K Reynolds

The recent article about familiars prompted a question about death in Five Moons RPG. Namely, should coming back from the dead have a significant cost to it like it does in 3E/PF (5,000 gp diamond, negative level, and so on)? Does the lack of this sort of cost make death a trivial issue for adventurers?

Death Skull

I was involved in a discussion on the Paizo boards a few years ago about this topic. This article is a summary of my thoughts on the matter[1].

(And special thanks to all the people involved in the discussion–many of whom I’m paraphrasing in this post–it was fun.)

(In all of this discussion, nobody was able to come up with a game mechanics reason why raise dead should have a 5,000 gp material component cost, but plane shift and teleport–both 5th-level spells–should not. There were plenty of “I don’t like the feel of…

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Paizo RPG Superstar: The fun leftovers

First off, if design is your thing, and you feel like you know Pathfinder mechanics, there’s still time to enter into Paizo RPG Superstar, with the contest being open until 2pm PST tomorrow.

First personal thought: For some reason, I find making items a lot harder than making feats/spells/archetypes. Things that weren’t part of the character permanently have always felt odd to me, even though (in the weapon class) there’s cool inspiration like the Holy Avenger and Oathbow. Anywhos, in any creative process, there are attempts that end up getting thrown out. Unlike the actual attempt, these items are not truly complete. If anyone wants any of these items priced and properly formatted, comment here.

Wordthief

This +1 small shortsword was born of the Goblin belief that writing down words steals them from your mind. This sword can make a sunder attempt against any object that has had writing on it for at least 24 hours or has any magical writing on it at all without provoking attacks of opportunity and while ignoring hardness. Any creature struck with this sword must make a DC 12 Will Save, or forget 1 language that they know for 1 hour. If they attempt to speak that language, it comes out in unintelligible grunts, and forces a 50% spell failure chance on any spells with a verbal component.

Spell Vortex Shield
Decorated on the edges with a retelling of a crusade against demons, this +3 Spell Resistance (15) cold iron Tower Shield shines light as a torch when held by anyone who has any active spells on them.
When the wielder of this shield negates a spell through spell resistance or fails a saving throw against a non-harmless spell, he absorbs a large amount of the spell into him. The spell does not affect any allied creature within 15 feet of him as if there was no line of effect to those creatures. The spell still has it’s full effect outside of this radius.

Shock and Awe
This +1 Thundering Blunderbuss fires it’s grapeshot with enough force to break traditional shield walls. While using the Blunderbuss as a scatter weapon, any creature that you hit is subject to a bull rush that does not provoke an attack of opportunity (CMB = the triggering attack’s bonus to hit). You do not follow any creatures this bullrush succeeds on, and on any creature you succeed by 5 or more, they also fall prone.

Remember that entering in items that exist elsewhere, even with small tweaks, will result in a DQ from the contest, and happy item building.

RPG Superstar 2015

Just a quick plug to Paizo, and them running their RPG Superstar contest again this year. If it’s something you feel like you’d want to jump in, come up with a 300 word item by December 16th, and give it a shot. There’s little to lose, given that entries are essentially anonymous unless they win, and others get to see your item without you having to be attached to it.

I know this little contest is what got me at least thinking about doing and sharing such creations, and I hope you’re willing to give it a try. I have not gotten anywhere in the contest, but I have submitted items before, so I’d be willing to answer any questions I can about it.

ORAS: The lack of Battle Frontier

The exclusion of a possible feature to a game is something that’s rarely worth writing about. Primary features take more time than expected. The budget gets cut short. The team loses key developers. Lots of fun things can leave half-finished or untouched features. However, from an interview with Masuda Shigeru1:

Q:We noticed ORAS had a lower difficulty level compared to previous Pokemon games. What bought you to this decision? Any chance that future games will have the possibility to adjust difficulty level as seen in Black and White 2?
A:What? How come you’ve already played the games? hearty laughter [the games were supposed to come out in Italy the day after the interview] We created a “balanced” game that was suited for our time and age, where everyone is very busy and young people have various means of entertainment. Using smartphones and other devices they can access a great number of games, so the time they dedicate to a single game is less than in the past. The player can choose to keep on playing after the main story and continue to the post-game, where the difficulty rises and there are much more difficult Trainers and challenges to overcome.
Q:Why wasn’t the Battle Frontier in the remakes?
A:This question is connected with my previous answer. We didn’t put the BF in ORAS for this very reason. Interviewer’s note: In short he means that they didn’t include the BF because only a very small part of the players would have fully appreciated and made use of this feature; nowadays players get bored and frustrated more easily and they aren’t interested in things that are so demanding/challenging.

Read that for a minute. Think about that. Game Freak did not add in end game content because of their target audience’s attention span and inability to accept challenges. It also doesn’t fit in with the audience that play mobile games. If I may say something a bit loud? The Pokemon RPG is something that’s not supposed to compete with mobile games. A popular mobile game typically gives you the opportunity to make meaningful progress in 5-15 minute chunks (people who play Candy Crush understand why I say opportunity instead of just saying make meaningful progress). An RPG that can manage to get meaningful progress in such small chunks consistently is likely to suffer in gameplay or suffer in story. An RPG pattern is not really one to thrive in those conditions.

Now, I am just a humble player. However, if Game Freak were to go to me and ask me how to get a game that feels like Pokemon but is accessible to the target audience, here’s what I would tell them.

Go back to Pokemon Battle Revolution. Your hardcore fans hated it because it wasn’t Pokemon Stadium 3, and it had some other issues on top of it, but it’s exactly the pattern you want here. Give the player a short introduction, and then hand them their choice of a pregen team, each of which have a mascot (I would say Pikachu, one generation’s worth of starters, Eevee, and Riolu), and let them go to town with this team. Essentially, you’re getting rid of a lot of decision points early, and making it all about the battles. Focusing the progression on clumps of battles where you’re shooting for enough points to get to the final match (people who know Yu-gi-oh the show should be familiar with this format) and small elimination tournaments focuses the game on the 10 minute clumps and 30 minute clumps that you’d really want to do for a mobile style game.

From here, players have the opportunity to earn higher rank battles (with teams of more impressive Pokemon, up to and including legendaries), customization points and free agent Pokemon for their rank (allowing Stadium-like rental customization), different battle styles within the ranks, and even special challenges (like Stadium 2 teaching challenges, Pokemon XD’s challenge battles, and Pokestar Studios) keeping the focus of the game in these small chunks.

In all of this, you have a game that people who put some time into it can enjoy, people can progress in 10 minute chunks, and a path where you can keep difficulty controlled until people decide they want to progress further. Now this is what I’d love to see from a game that needed to appeal to mobile players.

If Nintendo were to release a game like this, would you consider playing it given no massive implementation problems? Give your thoughts below.

1:Original Article: http://www.pokemonmillennium.net/articoli/1345/intervista-eslusiva-junichi-masuda-e-shigeru-ohmori-ci-
Fan translation: http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/2olmtb/interview_with_masuda_on_oras_and_why_there_is_no/

Alpha Sapphire: Too much Water/10

So it’s been a while since I’ve put anything up. Call it a combination of laziness, distraction, and running short on ideas. However, I did say (elsewhere) that I was going to put up a proper review of Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby (ORAS), so here goes.

Overall: 9/10 Although it already had a good base to work off of, this remake did an amazing job in a lot of ways. I find it generally hard to downrate a game that I’ve happily thrown as much time as I have at. Everything new and remade after being abandoned was generally redone impressively. In general, I wish they would have been a bit more bold, but it shouldn’t be enough to stop most from enjoying a really good Pokemon game.

Pacing: After Pokemon Black and White, and it’s borked Experience Formula, and the travesty of Pokemon X and Y’s Exp. Share, this seems like an important point for me to look at. Without the Exp. Share, the level pacing of the game was just about right. The ease of rematching trainers softened the blows of low experience wild Pokemon, and the second gym, which had probably the worst pacing issue if you weren’t turbo-grinding in the original game, was fixed up. If you went to face every trainer, there should be very few fights a decent team should brick wall against because of sheer numbers.

On the negative, I have to admit that the few instances of “Come with me” to town warp were jarring, and there’s about a half of a route that you miss out on that you would have explored in Ruby/Sapphire. Also, I cannot promise that the game will be paced right if you have the Exp. Share on (for your own sake, unless you’re trying to powerlevel through the game for the exclusives, shut it off). It also felt possible, but constrained, to make a solid team. The Hoenn Dex could have used 20-30 strategical additions that fit the feel of the region (Houndour, Magby, or Fletchling would have made a huge difference, for example). Also, please, never, NEVER, I mean NEVER again just give over a legendary. Not after such an easy quest. No, I mean it Gamefreak, Legendaries are supposed to be earned.

Storyline: Pokemon’s never been much for a storyline (get the badges, smash evil, get more badges, be the champion, catch them all), but at the very least, major events and NPCs felt like they had a solid reason to be there, and for a game that knows it’s likely to get burned through by a lot of people, they tried to give the NPCs personality. Not much more to say about that.

Soundtrack: Another thing that’s overlooked that can set the pace for Pokemon games in particular, the soundtrack wasn’t really improved on in it’s general use. For most of the routes and low-stakes battles, they got remastered to meet the requirements of the 3DS, but as you hit the Rival battles, Gym battles, Aqua/Magma admin battles, and the Champion Battle, and Wally especially, you can tell there was more care put into the themes. The end result is generally enjoyable, though I wouldn’t blame you for turning down the music after the 50th generic trainer battle, just to bring it back up for the Gym Leaders and the like.

Side Events/Quirks: I’m glad that they brought back contests and generally made them less frustrating. The Cosplay Pikachu you get in game is either very hit or miss. Either you have an adorable Pikachu in a dress, or you have an annoying rat…in a dress. Depends on how tired of Pikachu you are after so many Pokemon games.

Dexnav gets its own note, just for what it does. In X and Y, they revamped the breeding system as well as added the Friend Safari to make getting competitive Pokemon a lot less painful. In ORAS, you get the Dexnav. On the one end, it ensures that once you capture a Pokemon, that you basically can’t call that Pokemon rare, since you can search for it over and over. On the other hand, you get a system that seems rather familiar for anyone that played Gen 4 for getting more interesting versions of Pokemon. At first, I wanted to curse it after getting “Derp”, the poor Zigzagoon that lost Tackle for Charm. However, after getting a Mean Look Ralts (and nearly getting a shadow sneak one), I was a lot less annoyed at it. Basically, as you keep finding a species of Pokemon, whether in the wild, in trainer battles, or on the field as a Pokemon you can talk to, any of that species you search for has a chance at better stats, Hidden Abilities, and Egg Moves. At the end of it, if you don’t want to figure out breeding a max stat (6 IV) pokemon, you can go searching in the grass (a lot), and get yourself a reasonable Pokemon with an Egg move and a hidden ability. This ends up being the other side of the changes for competitive, lowering the entry bar, which is a good thing for Pokemon.

I hope if you already have your hands on a copy of ORAS, that you enjoy it, and if you have the spare money for it, and don’t already have it, that you consider it.