Underlying The Rules Part Divergent – Debates

This isn’t really a part of this series, and isn’t really a general article either – so I’m going to be adding a bonus article in the next day or so since this did wind up taking up a lot of time on a debate of fairly limited interest. Of course, it wound up far too long for comments – but I remain a compulsive answerer of questions and far too fond of debate, so here it is.

You can find the primary articles in this series with these links:

  • Part One in this series – The Social Contract – can be found HERE.
  • Part Two – Adjusting The Spotlight – can be found HERE.
  • Part Three – Making A Group Effort – can be found HERE.
  • Part Four – Setting Over Rules (The part that this comment was addressed to) – can be found HERE.
  • Part Five – Followup, Questions and Answers – can be found HERE.

So, first up, the comments that are getting this lengthy reply (with a few typos fixed):

The setting of 3.5, at least according to the Fiendish Codex II, answers the idea of “why haven’t the gods done X/Y/Z” in the simplest way possible: They are probably the laziest thing out there. The only reason why Evil even became a thing according to that book was because the gods wanted people to follow their rules and worship them without providing a good reason to. So they outsourced it… With rather large consequences. I’d say they’d learn eventually, but that’s another thing: To learn, you need to level up. In Pathfinder, assuming no unknown capacities, even a deity of knowledge cannot actually tell you how a robot works unless it has the technology feat… Something which didn’t even exist when most deities came out. So the deity has to, somehow, accumulate enough XP to get another level and hope it works out.

This goes for most other high-level races too. A Mind Flayer, for example, is ECL 15, meaning that if it were to go up against beings that even grant it XP, advancement would be very slow, not to mention that most possible “benefits” would be rather insignificant unless they somehow manage to get specific Prestige Classes (luckily, in this case, it’s one of the better classes, called “Illithid Savant”).

I’ll admit that chances are they’ll encounter knew knowledge more easily, but what use is that if they cannot learn it?

Assuming someone wants to play a Reserves of Strength Thay Human Wizard, he’d have to first be from Thay, then walk all across via whatever allowed him to towards Dragonlance while specifically being a Wizard.

We’d also need to know if such intellects even have the same desire to reveal the unknown. For most humanoids, curiosity is mandatory and rewarding: It’s easier to level up (or rather, not be satisfied with the little power you have) and if you can’t outsmart your stronger enemies (which is basically everything), you wouldn’t have survived. For dragons, outsiders and a lot of other things, that’s a nonissue. Very few dragons will ever go the path of the Dragon Ascendant, even if it promises literally godlike powers, because it’s hard to achieve, requires them to actually go out of their way to do things except being lazy and nothing much of regular wildlife can beat a dragon that’s got a few years on itself anyway. The fact that there aren’t millions of individual dragon deities out there seems to be a useful proof of that.

These civilizations actually bothering to do research might not kill the idea of a character capable of learning new things either, simply due to the difference in priorities. Psionic races will not necessarily develop spells and might miss something that an inherently magical race would consider obvious. For another example, the entire species of “dogs”, in 3.5, is as smart as the entire species of “apes” in the same system, and yet they have very different approaches on the same topic.

The problem with saying “you cannot invent something, because there are and have been lots of people like you who didn’t” would cause a problem, because the very same thing would be true for every other person down the line, meaning the no-one could invent anything. It also begs the question of “what do most modern day academies do if not research”?
Does it sound so strange that, due to a recent breakthrough made this year in some sort of magical field would open up new possibilities? And that, upon reexamining previous statements in the light of new evidence, new possibilities begin to form?

The thing I do agree with is the idea that no one can actually just do it out of intuition (even if that same heightened intellect could maybe make it possible), but a character setting off with an idea (“I heard about people conserving magical power reserves and release them in short bursts and of a group of people that seem to be able to increase them, and I have this new conversion theory…”) might just be a person that finds the exploit either way.

On the topic of computers… I’d consider an “exploit” an unforeseen interaction that grants a significant advantage to those that use it. Since there is no one to foresee anything in this universe (no DM) and computers indeed grant significant advantages, I’d say they qualify.

On another note, I find the idea of a delusional character can work quite well. False memories and all that. As a matter of fact, I’d even say such a character waking up in a world where all of these worries became nonexistent might have on of the most amusing character arcs of all, now having a breakdown due to the gap of standards in the new society and the one he knows.

On another note, this also conflicts with a lot of other sources, such as the creation of Mythal (by elves), the Karsus’s Avatar spell (which, by all right, the Aboleth should have uncovered well before him) and the Ioun Stones (named after Congenio Ioun, their human inventor).

I can believe that Gods or Aboleth or Outsiders wouldn’t have invented Ioulaum’s Longlevity, as it doesn’t matter to them, but again, the same could be said for most other abilities.

Even if we said the Aboleth didn’t uncover anything, the Sarrukh had more than incentive to. So if we really were to say you have to be the first intelligent race to uncover something, all of the above (Mythals, the high-level spells made by humanoids and the Ioun Stones) could not logically exist.

-KrakoThunder

Well, lets see… This seems to be divided into several sections – Lazy Gods, Needing to Level Up to Learn, the Pathfinder Technology Feat, High-Level Races Cannot Learn, Feat Availability, and Probability of Invention, among others.

Perhaps most importantly… “The Setting Of 3.5″.

There is no “Setting of 3.5″ – and there never has been. The writers for 3.5 initially told game masters to limit what 3.5 material they allowed into their campaign. For an example from the 3.5 Dungeon Masters Guide under Prestige Classes… “Prestige classes are purely optional and always under the purview of the DM. We encourage you, as the DM, to tightly limit the prestige classes available in your campaign. The example prestige classes are certainly not all-encompassing or definitive. They might not even be appropriate for your campaign. The best prestige classes for your campaign are the ones you make yourself”.

Yes, the Dungeon Masters Guide said to leave out irrelevant parts of the Core Rules, much less secondary sourcebooks.

Just as importantly, 3.5 had explicit rules about how to determine which version of various rules and items took priority – which tells us right there that some 3.5 material is not compatible with other 3.5 material.

Even ignoring the Open Game License, and all the third-party stuff… you could not, and were not expected to, use all of Wizards of the Coasts 3.5 d20 source material together (much less with later Pathfinder stuff). You were and are supposed to pick and choose what will be allowed in your campaign. Otherwise everyone would be running games for Mythic Gestalt characters with half a dozen other “free” power boosters from specialty books tacked on – and I have yet to encounter such a game despite Wizards of the Coasts marketing department.

Lazy Gods:

It looks like the “Lazy Deities” section is derived from the “Pact Primeval” section of the Fiendish Codex II (2006) – which, even in a game that uses that book, states in the very first paragraph that this is a story that devils tell in-setting and that contradictions abound. The second paragraph states that many versions of the story exist. The third tells us that it may not have actually happened “but is true anyway” – at least according to the devils that tell it.

Given that the story itself portrays “Lawful Good” as an idiotic stereotype (a viewpoint common to creatures of the lower planes, but generally not correct), implies that alignments are behavioral straitjackets (they’re not), ignores that gods automatically get to take 20 on their skill checks (and thus are not going to miss “the fine print”), ignores the fact that contracts are not irrevocably binding (an awful lot of law is devoted to that), ignores the fact that “good” is just as important as “law” in being lawful good (so sticking to an evil contract is a violation of a lawful good alignment), pays no attention to the principle that deceptive practices invalidate contracts (a very important bit of contract law), states that the gods changed and then portrays them as being utterly rigid, and more… what this story actually shows is that “Devils lie a lot”.

The story also does not work with the cosmology of the Forgotten Realms, where Gods – including Asmodeus – are minor figures, with Ao, and Ao’s unnamed superior or superiors, above them.

Even disregarding the “Pact Primeval” story, the rest of the Fiendish Codex II is only partially compatible with the Forgotten Realms. A game master who wanted to include bits from it would need to pick and choose to suit his or her campaign.

Fundamentally, when it comes to lazy gods… if they are all too lazy to do much, how did the universe get created in the first place? Similarly, the actual descriptions of many gods – Hephaestus, Kwan Yin, Raven, Odin, Krishna, and many more – indicate that they are very, VERY, active. In particular, since we were specifically considering The Forgotten Realms… in it’s history many gods rule directly or otherwise remain very busy.

Needing to Level Up to Learn:

This is a possible concern for d20 characters – but fortunately there are a lot of ways around it. Characters can retrain, use psychic reformation, acquire items that grant skills or feats, make wishes, increase their intelligence, and employ many other methods from a wide variety of sourcebooks (including some that simply award skill points in non-adventuring skills for life experience or study) to acquire new skills and feats without going up in level. This really isn’t a concern – and becomes even less of one if you go with the “all sourcebooks apply!” idea, because some of those provide even more options, bonus pools of skill points for non-adventuring skills, and many other ways to add goodies to characters.

The Pathfinder Technology Feats:

One of Pathfinder’s many optional sourcebooks does indeed offer the “Technologist” feat – and states that you need it to apply skills like Knowledge / Engineering to “Technology”. Of course, that’s completely irrelevant to Pathfinder games that aren’t using that book, to all 3.0 and 3.5 writeups (which do not need such a feat to work with technology), and to anything before that (such as first and second edition). After all, if new sourcebooks suddenly become relevant to existing d20 games, settings, and material… we don’t have to worry about gods at all. There are after-Ragnarok  / Armageddon / Etc books out there that say that the age of gods has passed and they are gone for good. Throw in a “Race X Only” and a “Race Y Only” book and you can eliminate all intelligent life too, which at least makes for a nice clean setting.

Far worse, even if you are using Pathfinders Technology sourcebook… this feat is blatantly self-contradictory and quite meaningless.

Let us consider: Which of the following is “technological”? A knapped flint knife? A knife beaten from native copper with a rock? A hand-forged meteoric iron knife? A smelted steel knife forged with the help of a water-wheel driven trip hammer? A titanium, ceramic, or hard plastic knife made of “advanced” materials from a laboratory? An enchanted flaming mithril knife? A “vibroknife”? (more magic really, since vibrating a knife doesn’t actually do much). A chainsaw knife? (impractical, but exciting). A force knife? (still magic, but leaning towards mad science magic or “psionics”).

Trick question there! The answer is, of course, “all of them”.

Technology is commonly defined as purposefully applying information to the design, production, and utilization of goods and services or the organization of activities. It is commonly divided into tangible (tools, devices, records, structures) and intangible (training methods, mathematics, theories, procedures) technologies. While it’s often further described in terms of “Low”, “Intermediate”, and “High” technologies these groupings have no satisfactory definitions and blend into each other smoothly.

Do you need the “technologist” feat to use your skills work with gears, cams, and basic mechanical parts? If so, Roman and Medieval European Millers are going to be quite surprised to find that – with the publication of the Technology Guide – they can no longer build and maintain the watermills and windmills that they use to grind grain. Not gristmills then? But if not gristmills, then how about computers? Yes?

But Difference (or “Babbage”) Engines are computers – and they are simply assemblages of basic mechanical parts. The only real difference is the number of parts. At what (presumably magical) number of parts does a device suddenly become incomprehensible to anyone without the “Technologist” feat? And what does that say about sailing ships? Those are very complex and have a very large number of parts. What makes them “normal equipment” as opposed to things that you need special feats for? How about lathes and electroplating? Both of those have been around for a very long time indeed. Do Gunslingers suddenly need an extra feat to know about guns?

This approach doesn’t even work in the game except as a convenience; it’s an arbitrary dividing line between “stuff that’s equipment” and “stuff we’re treating as magic items”. To quote from the Technology section of the pathfinder wiki…

By using the magic item creation guidelines when designing technological items, you can help ensure that the end result remains balanced in the game. For example, an inferno grenade isn’t all that different than a single-use, use-activated fireball, so it’s priced out as a one-use item that duplicates a 3rd-level spell at CL 5th, for a total of 750 gp. A death ray is basically a destruction spell with a few flavor tweaks and rules adjustments. A gravity clip more or less duplicates the effects of a lead blades spell. And so on. You can, in fact, quickly re-skin just about any existing magic item to stand in for a technological item. However, keep in mind that you can do the exact opposite as well.

This is the same system that got covered in a page or two in The Practical Enchanter and under “Special Effects” in Eclipse. In Eclipse terms it’s applying the “Eldritch” modifier to item creation feats (no cost). The book isn’t even pretending to be talking about actual technology; it’s talking about funny-looking magic items or “technomagic”.

So no. No character, and certainly no deity, from a non-pathfinder setting, or in a pathfinder setting that isn’t using the technology sourcebook, or in a pathfinder setting with a game master who’s using the book but is actually paying attention to what it says, needs to have the “technologist” feat to work with actual technology. The books own blurb says “along with rules for how your skills interact with super-science”. Super-science is just a form of magic – in fact, it is pretty much DEFINED by being “indistinguishable from magic”. The Pathfinder “Technology” sourcebook explicitly has nothing to do with actual technology. Secondarily, even if it did, and even if applied to a given campaign, as was noted above characters do not actually need to level up to “learn”.

This does illustrate the major point of the original article this comment was made on very nicely again though. Outside of Wizards of the Coast’s carefully-cultivated notion that “all the d20 stuff goes together” why would anyone feel that a new book for Pathfinder should be relevant to an old setting published by a different company using another version of a game system? How is that really different from asking that the rules for a new fifth edition book be applied to your current Pathfinder game when they’re convenient for you? Simply being a “d20” sourcebook doesn’t make something a part of any specific d20 game.

Personally, for general reading on the development of technology, I’d recommend picking up a copy of The Ancient Engineers by L. Sprague de Camp. It’s a good read, a nice look at a fascinating topic, and a handy resource for world development.

High-Level Races Cannot Readily Learn:

Bringing up ECL for Mind Flayers… well, first off, if you’re invoking Pathfinder rules, Pathfinder doesn’t use ECL. If you’re going by 3.0 and 3.5 rules (as first presented in Savage Species) Mind Flayers can learn other things in place of taking monster class levels if they wish and don’t start off with a high ECL. If you’re going by NPC rules “ECL” is only a thing for PC’s and followers of various types. In Eclipse, of course, you can build as you go. More importantly, as noted above, characters don’t need to level up to learn – and even if they did… the bit about “I’ll admit that chances are they’ll encounter knew knowledge more easily, but what use is that if they cannot learn it?” doesn’t really work. Kim Jong Un almost certainly hasn’t personally learned how to build nuclear weapons – but he’s still getting quite a lot of use out of that information; that’s why engineers, scientists, and similar folk get good salaries.

Secondarily, even if Mind Flayers were the only dimension-hopping group, AND they couldn’t directly take advantage of importing knowledge (neither of which is true) that wouldn’t stop them from importing it for other reasons – perhaps as a cheap bonus for some temporary allies.

Similarly, while you do have to be from someplace named Thay, or perhaps from a family named Thay, or from a school founded by someone named Thay or some such to be a “Thay Wizard”, there’s actually only one real requirement on the mechanical side; you need to persuade the game master that the Red Wizard Prestige Class and the Reserves of Strength feat fit into his or her setting well enough to allow them in to his or her game – and whether or not they get refluffed is irrelevant. The idea that something can only be developed once, in one place, is an extreme version of Diffusionism, and has been pretty thoroughly discredited (that does not, however, make something a new invention. An invention can only be new once per universe).

As for needing to know if “such intellects even have the same desire to reveal the unknown”… they explicitly do according to the same rules that tell us that undead see just like humans see. Under the d20 rules all creatures are assumed to work like humans do except where they are explicitly noted as working otherwise. And even if we ignore that part of the rules… whether or not such species are as curious as humans is pure speculation. About the only available evidence for how curious the various races are is their intelligence scores. The higher the intelligence, the greater the benefits of leveling up and the more skill points they have – making it easier for them to learn.

As for “very few” dragons every going on the Path of the Dragon Ascendant… Wouldn’t that depend on their total population, the percent which qualifies, and what prestige classes are open to them? Given that detailed information on those statistics is non-existent (while Dragonstar offers some, that setting also explicitly informs us that there is no such thing as ascending to godhood; the gods are eternal), the only possible method of actually getting a percentage would be to divide the number of fully-written up, “official”, Wizard of the Coast dragons on the Path of the Dragon Ascendant by the total number of fully-written up, “official”, Wizard of the Coast dragons – and then compare it to a similarly derived percentage of nondragon characters on similar paths divided by the total number of nondragon characters.

I rather suspect that the dragons would be ahead percentage-wise – but that opinion doesn’t mean much more than it’s opposite.

Of course, the Path of the Dragon Ascendant only turns a dragon into a Quasi-Deity – resulting in an especially large, tough, dragon with some immunities to some troublesome effects and a rather poor grade of immortality – being unable to die from natural causes. They don’t grant spells, gain no salient divine abilities, or actually get much that they can’t gain in a lot of other ways. How do you know that there AREN’T millions of them out there? (Of course, in The Forgotten Realms, we know why there aren’t “millions of individual dragon deities” regardless of the fact that this path won’t produce them; they’d need unique portfolios and at least passive approval by Ao).

Speculation about “why some groups might not do something” is pointless – it’s only speculation, and even if it’s accurate in particular cases, it would need to apply to everything and to find an in-game reason to make special exemptions for player characters (a distinction that only exists out of the game). For a through examination “filters” in this general vein I’d recommend considering the Fermi Paradox. The logic is much the same.

It’s especially hard to make “the information isn’t available” work in the Forgotten Realms, since one of the earliest conceits of the setting is that it offered many routes to and from modern earth – allowing people, devices, knowledge, and even gods (although the aspects that came to The Forgotten Realms fell under Ao’s authority there; fortunately, since settings are independent, killing off the Egyptian gods who wandered over to Mulhorand has no effect on them elsewhere) to fairly readily wander back and forth. That’s why the material on the setting was originally presented in the form of the author having personal interviews with Elminster.

On the likelyhood of new discoveries…

I did not, in fact, say that “you cannot invent something, because there are and have been lots of people like you who didn’t” – and inventing your own quotes to argue with after arguing from personal speculation takes this comment far too close to Gish Gallop territory. I’d recommend avoiding that; it really does not help.

What I said was that there are five conditions that, if true, make it extremely unlikely for player characters to be the first ones to find an “exploit. In brief those were… 1) the existence of entities with more information than they have, 2) the setting having a long history or being very large, 3) the setting including a lot of knowledge beyond what the characters have already mastered, 4) there having been prior civilizations that were more advanced than the current one, and 5) devoting their time to adventuring rather than to research and development.

Now lets see… “What do most modern day academies do if not research”?

Hm… Looking at modern academies… Condition 1) False. There may be more knowledgeable entities out there, but we’re not in touch with them. Condition 2) False. Human history is fairly short, and a single planet is not very large. Condition 3) False. Serious researchers spend inordinate amounts of time learning about prior developments in their fields. “Crackpot Scientists” do not – and are well known to be vanishingly unlikely to contribute anything except noise. 4) False, at least on Earth. Even something as basic as quarrying leaves traces that will be clearly evident many millions of years from now. 5) False. “Indiana Jones” is a fictional character. Academics do not spend their time going out and fighting monsters, casting spells, and stealing treasure.

And so I’d expect them to make a lot of small discoveries and refinements on existing stuff and to make occasional notable discoveries. Even so, however, most academics and scientists spend their lives filling in details in established theories, cataloging observations, and performing experiments that confirm our current understanding without ever actually discovering anything really new. Most of science consists of checking results and occasionally finding that “Variant number 247,833 shows slightly better results than any of the other variants tested so far” (which is why pharmaceutical research is expensive and time-consuming).

Now if we bow to modern cosmology and the indications that the universe is actually infinite… then Condition 2 is True – and the universe necessarily contains an infinite number of every possible variation of our Hubble Volume – including infinite numbers of them that are identical to any state we may wind up in in the future. In this case, it is not possible to be the first to discover something; thanks to the rather non-intuitive properties of infinite sets, no matter which Hubble Volume you “discover” something in there will always be an infinite number of other Hubble Volumes that got to it “first”.

In fact, even if we stick to our own Hubble Volume, the statistics pretty well guarantee that we haven’t been the first at anything yet, and probably never will be.

In either case… you’re supporting my point here, rather than opposing it.

The problem is that you are implicitly assuming a “False” condition for conditions 1-4. Do you have detailed information on what more knowledgeable entities know and about whatever developments beyond the player characters current state of the art any prior civilizations had? No? Then you are stating that they effectively do not exist. Are you accounting for the thousands of other prime material planes and other planets whether or not the characters will ever reach them? Or a few million years worth of rising and falling cultures? No? Then you are limiting this to a local scale. Do you have large amounts of theoretical material covering how things work, new spells, and other material that is unavailable to the players and the characters or are you pulling things from sourcebooks, literature, and movies or TV? No? Then the setting does not include a lot of information that they haven’t mastered.

“Does it sound so strange that, due to a recent breakthrough made this year in some sort of magical field would open up new possibilities? And that, upon reexamining previous statements in the light of new evidence, new possibilities begin to form?”

Yes, if we assume that a new (at least to the local setting) breakthrough has been made then new applications are likely to follow – but how does assuming the existence of a breakthrough show that it was likely? Assuming that I rolled six 18’s on six 3d6 rolls will give my new character some good base attributes – but it doesn’t mean that I’m likely to get that if I stop assuming that and actually roll the dice.

Now, as far as d20 goes… I do, in fact, allow for characters to “do it out of intuition”. D20 characters are allowed to do incredibly unlikely things, which is why I have included the “invention” option under Action Hero in Eclipse. This has nothing to do with “Exploits” though, since those are achieved by going through rulebooks or by taking advantage of the limitations of your game master to get something he or she should not have approved past him or her.

As far as computers go, even if they fit the definition of an “exploit” (I do not agree, but it doesn’t actually matter), and even if we limit our considerations to Earth… they are in no way new. Brains are computers, and have been around for many millions of years. External calculating devices have been around since the development of Tally Sticks. Special purpose computers, such as the Antikythera Mechanism, have been around for more than two thousand years (that we know of; it could be longer). The Difference Engine was proposed in 1784 and one was actually built in 1822. The first electronic computer was built in 1942 (and used the same basic principles as applied to easier-to-work-with parts such as vacuum tubes). Transistors were the next step – and putting masses of transistors on one surface (an “integrated circuit”) was the next, and is really the current state of the art. So we have… Gears, some specialized Math, Electricity, Vacuum Tubes, Transistors, Memory Storage (Paper Tapes, then Punch Cards, Capacitors, Magnetic Systems, and modern chips, but all simply implementing the same yes / no storage system), a Generalized Operating Systems, and the notion of using a Graphic User Interface (quickly scanable pictures instead of long menus) – five to seven major inventions and a LOT of tweaking across more than two thousand years of development by hundreds of thousands or millions of people.

No, barring something like Eclipse’s “Invention” ability (which is just as magical as the ability to use the Evil Eye) I really don’t see a group of player characters going through all that.

And there’s nothing wrong with a delusional character; the problem lay with the delusional player who refused to admit that the character was delusional and that the setting was not what he wanted it to be. It led to him being ignored a lot.

And Part II:

Simply announcing that something conflicts does not make it so, but looking at this…

Elves made some Mythals. Even if this was new to Toril (even limiting ourselves to Toril, how do we know that something similar wasn’t done before?) we also know that Toril and its local gods are fairly young in an apparently older universe and that our information on that universe is primarily limited to a modest section of a particular planet. Both literature and other settings include much older area enchantments. (For a personal example… Malavon, which predated the publication of The Forgotten Realms, included the Alfar Planetary Bindings – dating back some sixty million years). There’s no conflict there.

Similarly, Karsus’s Avatar Spell was purely local (it only had effects within Toril’s crystal sphere) was allowed by a fairly new goddess of magic (and such spells are no longer allowed), and “ascend to godhood” spells are hardly a new idea; that’s what the pharonic burial rituals were all about. And how do you know that the Aboleth didn’t come up with such a spell (or, far more likely, an equivalent psionic power) long before? After all, the most notable thing about Karsus’s Avatar when cast was it’s spectacular failure.

Sounds like the part about “I do tend to make exceptions for those players and characters who possess exceptional intelligence, knowledge, skill, and power and who then use them to attempt some experiment so insanely reckless that no one in their right mind would try it in a million years” that I mentioned in the article.

Ioun Stones were, in fact, dreamed up by Jack Vance in his Dying Earth novels, where they were naturally-occurring items that were harvested from the core of neutron stars that were being sliced away by the Nothing at the edge of the universe. They first appeared in games in Issue #1 of The Strategic Review (no author given), although Jack Vance apparently approved of their inclusion. So no, “Congenio Ioun” is a later interpolation, specific to a particular setting, and demonstrably wrong. Even in-setting… is there any indication whatsoever that equivalent items didn’t exist on Toril (let alone on the apparently limitless number of other planets elsewhere in the Forgotten Realms universe) before “Congenio Ioun” stuck his name on his personal line of designer jewelry?

Once again, these arguments are starting off assuming what they want to prove – that Mythals are unique and the elves of Toril were the first and only people to create such things, that Karsus being the first known person to use a divine ascension spell within a small and young section of the universe makes him the only one ever to have done such a thing, and that a character who was only mentioned to account for a per-existing name on something was the origin of that name.

And I hope the helps!

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4 Responses

  1. So, nothing new will ever happen and there’s no point to anything, because whatever you do, someone else will have done it better.

    Well… That sucks. Really hard, as a matter of fact. I think this might’ve been the last time I’ve played a tabletop… Possibly for the better.

    • On a sufficiently long timescale all creditable current scientific theories suggest that the universe will die, and that nothing that ever happened in it will have any further effect or meaning (if it ever had any in the first place). If you consider the universe on a sufficiently large scale, an infinite number of you have already made your complaint – and yet the theories continue to say the same thing.

      The trick is always scale. If you’re only competing at the local county fair it doesn’t matter if there are, or have been, better bakers out there. Only the ones you’re competing with matter. The larger the scale, the more work it is to make major changes. If a bunch of characters are going to try and turn a major nation upside down… They will either need something very unlikely to happen or they will have to put a lot of work into it. “Meaning” is something that individual people project on events. It’s not a part of the external universe.

      Now every story is entitled to a wild coincidence or two – attempting to equate “very unlikely” with “never” doesn’t really work. Sadly, however, neither does trying to turn “very unlikely” into “it happens a lot”. Deus Ex Machina, “Mary Sue” characters, plotholes, and stories that rely on strings of wild coincidences, are rarely very interesting. There’s a reason why that sort of thing is regarded as bad storytelling.

      Similarly, “my self-insert character pulls out some bit of information from modern sources that I know of and overthrows everything!” is a popular power fantasy – to the point where many settings have added rules as to why gunpowder does not work in them – but it’s a lousy basis for a campaign.

      Perhaps most importantly, if you you’re going to allow whether or not you can get other people on the internet to agree with you to determine if you’re enjoying yourself or not, I feel that I should inform you that – even if you put a lot more time, research, references, and supporting facts into your arguments – you are probably not going to have much fun in life. I’d hope that you won’t allow that – but whether or not you find any meaning or “point” in that is up to you.

  2. So I’ve recently been reading Dave Arneson’s True Genius, and it’s really been making me think of Eclipse. The first essay in particular, regarding how Original D&D utilized a melding of open system and closed system designs to establish a new paradigm of game design (and play) that went beyond what either could accomplish alone – and how this was largely lost with the release of AD&D and its rejection of the open system principles therein in favor of standardization – is an excellent summary of why I love what Eclipse has done with regards to (as I see it) trying to reintroduce those principles back into Third Edition (at least somewhat) via the mutability of game rules (a la corruption and specialization for abilities, world templates, a stronger focus on modularity with what’s used and what’s not, etc.).

    In that light, this article takes on a new dimension, as it honestly looks like KrackoThunder is trying to leverage the closed system principles of Third Edition (e.g. the immutability of the “implied setting,” the invariability of the rules, and their extrapolation with regard to “how things work”) to achieve the results that you’d get from an open system, wherein those things are defined as part of the act of creating the setting (or, at a slightly higher level, using the rules as ur-tools to effectively build a game – along with a setting – unto itself) and so more easily allow for that level of alteration with regards to players tinkering with what is and is not allowable within the scope of the game.

    Of course, as you noted here, that doesn’t really work; it’s like trying to “rob the bank” in Monopoly. Of course, the same is true in reverse as well, which is why I roll my eyes whenever I see someone unironically utilizing Eclipse to make what you called an “atrocity build.”

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