Grab Bag – 6/17/19

Been kinda quiet here lately – I’ve been too caught up in Baldur’s Gate and doing Dungeon Master prep to get much in the way of writing done. Such are hobbies; occasionally, they fall by the wayside to make room for uh…other hobbies. I am working on a far too long post about the band Rush (nerd alert!) that I hope to finish this week, but honestly who knows. Anyway, in the meantime, here are some quick snippets of what’s been on my mind, in no order:

-Clean your grill, everybody. No questions, just do it. Once, we had a grill that was pristine, and mostly worked kinda nice. Now, our grill is rusting in some places, caked with debris from various foodstuffs, and perpetually covered in a thin layer of grease that refuses to go away. All of this is because since we acquired this grill, I’ve maintained it like an asshole. Clean your grill thoroughly after each use, and cover it when not in use.

-Here’s a thing that bugs me about D&D 5th Edition – nothing about the system is transparent. In the glory days of 3.5 (and later, Pathfinder), it was clear how monsters and magic items were constructed, thus making it easy to construct one’s own monsters and magic items. A magic item’s description, for example, included all of the spells required to craft that item yourself, even if the process for doing so was ridiculously impractical. It was more rules, yeah, but it made customization easier. 5th edition doesn’t have this. Pretty much everything that doesn’t pertain to player character options exists with some degree of secrecy (don’t get me started on the stat blocks of enemy spellcasters), forcing DM’s like me who want the option to make these things myself to declare how these things work by fiat. Granted, one of the obvious goals of 5th Edition is to simplify the game, and it succeeds at that. But sometimes, I think it goes too far in that direction.

-I’m hoping to avoid writing any posts about football this year. Football sucks – the players main themselves for our entertainment, and are forced to give up certain constitutional rights for the privilege of doing so. Also, no one knows what the rules of the game are anymore. Also also, I’m quite certain the Vikings are gonna be trash again, and the physical and mental ravages of age have made me less willing to get extremely day-drunk on a Sunday solely so I can get mad. It seems like no way to live.

-One more thing about 5th Edition – I think the implementation of Challenge Ratings is all kinds of messed up. The theory behind CR is that a single monster with a given CR constitutes a threat to a four-PC party of that same level. For example, a CR 3 Owlbear is a threat to a party of four 3rd level PCs. I think this is a little silly, for a couple of reasons I’ll mention here. First off, certain monsters are designed to not be a threat by themselves; they need allies in order to be effective. Consider the humble Hobgoblin. A hobgoblin is a CR 1 monster, but one of the biggest advantages a hobgoblin has is the extra 2d6 damage it does when it has an ally within 5 feet. Without that extra damage, it’s pretty much an NPC guard with a high AC. By itself, it may be a threat to certain 1st level PCs, but it’s no threat to any party, even at 1st level. Second, the action economy of a single monster (that is, how many things it can do on it’s turn) can’t compete with that of a full party, unless it has legendary actions. Even then, the diversity of actions a full party has at its disposal can overwhelm legendary monsters with equal (and even higher) CRs. It seems like the degree of challenge that’s taken as a foundational premise assumes the players are all D&D newbies, or 12 year olds.

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