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1  Announcements / News / Re: The Future of the CBG on: September 01, 2018, 12:56:42 PM
There are already sub chat rooms, but we have to specifically add you to the "Members" group to see them just in case we get spammers or trolls or something. So make an actual username and come join us laugh
2  Announcements / News / Re: The Future of the CBG on: August 28, 2018, 06:21:43 PM
Try this one:
3  Announcements / News / Re: The Future of the CBG on: August 14, 2018, 02:50:47 PM
Yeah, I think the short answer is "we got old."

That doesn't mean things necessarily have to be completely dead around here, of course. Scheduling may be a bit trickier but I hold out hope that games may still be possible. One kinda cool thing about Discord is the persistent, always-on nature of the chat means that you could run a game as a combined play-by-post and live game: play live when people can make it, or just drop posts for whenever when they can't.
4  Announcements / News / Re: The Future of the CBG on: August 13, 2018, 03:45:38 PM
Since some questions came up about Discord, I'll try to add some information there. Discord is more or less like a persistent version of IRC, or a deluxe version of our Shoutbox. There can be multiple different discussion channels, related to various topics or whatever division we want to have. As such, it would be excellent for hosting various games-- each game could go in its own channel and thus the logs would be saved and also be immediately available to anyone viewing the Discord. It'd be a very good venue for the sorts of conversations that happen here often, but a less good venue for hosting setting information.

That said, there are lots of options for hosting setting information. The amount of activity on our own wiki has slowed to a trickle, and there have not been too many setting threads posted or updated lately, either, so I thought that having a medium for RPG discussion and the general concepts around campaign building (rather than specific campaigns) was a better direction to aim. If that thinking turns out to be wrong, though, please let us know! We're still deciding what we're going to do, and more information about how the community actually uses the resources we offer is of course useful.

As for copyright issues, the CBG always has and always will allow people posting material to maintain copyright over that material. You have to irrevocably and perpetually grant certain basic usage rights (in order that nobody can turn around and sue the CBG or its users for copyright infringement) but you still maintain ownership over the material. Nobody is allowed to use your stuff without giving you credit, or create derivative works or gain any commercial benefit without your explicit permission.
5  Announcements / News / The Future of the CBG on: August 12, 2018, 03:50:26 PM
As many of you have likely noticed, Nomadic has been very busy and not been around much, and he doesn't see that situation changing soon. So, he has decided to hand Hoers the reins (no pun intended... ok, I admit, pun intended) as admin of the CBG. I (sparkletwist) will retain my current role.

Bigger changes are also in the works. The CBG has been home on the internet to many of us over the past 12 years (feel old yet?) and while our recent one-day surge in activity proved we do still have an active community around here, it is also not exactly a controversial idea that the amount of activity here has declined quite a bit since its heyday.

Recently, us three admins met on IRC and discussed the future of the CBG. Unfortunately, the CBG's current forum and wiki software is quite old and it needs significant upgrades and overhauls, and none of the three of us are able to undertake such a project right now. Combined with the decline in users, and, to be honest, the decline of internet forums in general, it is unavoidable that the CBG's days in its current form are numbered.

Therefore, we have decided to move our community to an existing social media platform. That frees us from most of the maintenance tasks that are necessary when we run our own site, and also grants us access to a wider pool of users from which we can potentially grow our membership. As Thor once said, "[The CBG] is not a place, it's a people." The end of our current site need not be (and I hope it is not) the end of us. 

Currently, we are most strongly considering Reddit and Discord.

Reddit is more similar to a traditional forum, while Discord is more of a persistent chat room more like an extended version of our Shoutbox. Both are more suited to discussion rather than hosting content, so the current setting threads that exist on the CBG will probably have to be hosted on an external wiki, or on Google Docs, or something of that sort. The good news is that this is not necessarily a big problem, as there are far more options in this regard than were available in 2006 when the site started.

Both of the platforms we are considering are strong, established communities with a wealth of tools available. Neither one is exactly like what we have now, but both are much wider platforms and may prove to be a better long-term solution. Using both is also an option, of course, although not deciding on a definitive new home for our community is probably not the best thing if we're trying to keep a solid community together.

No matter what we do, the wealth of material on the existing CBG's forum and wiki is not going to totally disappear, of course. We're looking into some way to continue to make the CBG's current content available as some sort of archive. More information on this will be forthcoming as we figure out what we're going to do. While we can assure you that your content will not simply disappear into a black hole, the archive may not be quite as convenient to use as a live site, so you may also save your own copy of any content of yours that you want to keep.

We're also seeking feedback from the community on what you want going forward, such as what platform you'd be most comfortable with, or if there's some other option we hadn't yet considered. While we don't have as many active users as we once did, there is still a small but active community here, and we don't want to take any step that would alienate that community. Hopefully, we can instead take steps to keep our community healthy and even start to grow once again.

The CBG is dead. Long live the CBG!
6  Campaign Creation / Meta / Re: Dark Souls as a Table-Top (or Chat-Based) RPG on: August 02, 2018, 08:13:58 PM
Yes, that answers the question, thank you!

Saying a grid is pretty much essential is an interesting divergence, though. The game as presented didn't have one, and even D&D doesn't strictly need one although positioning and ranges and such can be trickier without one. It seems like it could be the sort of thing that slows the game down, which is, of course, not good. Fate uses "zones," which allow modeling distances abstractly, and also including certain areas that have various battlefield features or hazards. I wonder if using zones and then using the distance between zones to determine range wouldn't be a worthwhile compromise.
7  Campaign Creation / Meta / Re: Dark Souls as a Table-Top (or Chat-Based) RPG on: August 01, 2018, 08:17:33 PM
Ok, that's a good list!

I like the idea of fast, brutal-but-fair combat and I think using stamina as a central tactical mechanic is a good one. The "range rings" abstraction that the game you found uses is a pretty good one, and I think it keeps the feel of a Dark Souls battle intact, while using a grid map might just be unnecessary complexity and slow the battle down for no real gain.

All of the stats are combat stats, ultimately. This is like D&D and unlike some other tabletop games where you have stats that are specifically devoted to out-of-combat utility. I think a big question around any "Dark Souls inspired" game is to what extent out of combat stats are even going to matter. Not having any mechanics for out of combat stuff is one option, but I'm not sure if it's the best one. Being able to use these stats for "skill checks" could work, instead.

I don't know what you mean by "magical movesets" and "weapon arts" so if you wouldn't mind could you explain that a little more?

Anyway, this a good list but the one thing missing is just... the overall feeling, I guess. What sort of primary actions do you see as being important in combat? What kind of tactics go through your mind in a Dark Souls battle? Like, how would we abstract this down to something that's tactically interesting but can be played at a tabletop? How about the idea used by Yomi, and also I think by Riddle of Steel, where both combatants choose a strategy and then you reveal them at the same time and you see how they interact?
8  Campaign Creation / Campaign Elements and Design / Re: Cainsworth Update (Map in Progress) on: August 01, 2018, 04:56:20 PM
It works for me laugh
9  Campaign Creation / Campaign Elements and Design / Re: Cainsworth Update (Map in Progress) on: July 31, 2018, 05:16:42 PM
Your links point to what are apparently 1x1 images, so it still isn't working right.
10  Campaign Creation / Meta / Re: Dark Souls as a Table-Top (or Chat-Based) RPG on: July 29, 2018, 09:20:38 PM


Regarding the skills/resolution mechanic, it's not like the worlds found in Dark Souls couldn't use a wide array of skills, but the tone/message of the games has always been that you'll begin, progress, and end your quest through defeating enemies through combat (with choices with regards to NPC conversations, some item/environment uses, and sequence of completing areas influencing how you might end it). I think a system playing a Dark Souls world would almost necessitate being very combat-focused for this reason.
That's fair, but that doesn't mean there shouldn't still be a simple out of combat task resolution system on top of that. D&D is also pretty combat-focused, but it always has rules for other tasks as well, because players will certainly try to apply their abilities out of combat. Even 4th edition, which was really focused around combat and didn't have a whole lot else, still had a basic skill system for out of combat stuff.


I don't think modding a game and jumping in would work - to get anywhere close I think you'd have to have everyone buy a copy of Dark Souls 3 (assuming they could run it) and make up a pile of houserules and strategies to make anything look remotely reasonable. You'd spend a lot of time just traveling through game areas to get to what you'd want to use to do this, countering the intended "fast" combat resolution.
I meant modding it more extensively, so you'd have a custom map that was exactly where the fight was supposed to be, or whatever. It'd be quite a bit of work for the GM if it was even possible, so it isn't going to be practical for most games.


This is another gimmick to provide lore to a gameplay mechanic
I agree with this part of it. I do have to say, I think it might be that your great familiarity and enthusiasm for the Souls games mean that you may be immersed enough in the game's lore to perhaps miss just how video gamey this stuff looks to someone who isn't so acquainted with them. That's not to say these lore elements are all bad or the underlying mechanics are all inapplicable to tabletop gaming-- as you have noted, the idea of "summons" and "invasions" seems like it would work really well in a casual game where players can easily drop in and drop out.


The other real looming problem is that if you're interested in the visceral, adrenaline-fueled combat of the game instead of just the tone, it'll be hard to do that regardless of how the system is built if there isn't some fancy graphical interface, so maybe that's the more important factor.
This is also true, but on the other hand I feel like the right sort of system can capture some of the feeling of the combat (if not quite so adrenaline-fueled) if it has mechanics that lead to similar sorts of snap decisions that have to be made in the game.

There's a card game called Yomi that is based on fighting games like Street Fighter. The basic gameplay is rock-paper-scissors, where the two combatants each play a card face down and then flip it over at the same time, and the loser of the exchange takes damage. There are also special moves and combos to follow up a successful attack, which you can play. Each character has their own deck with moves geared towards that character's own feel. It really does a good job of capturing what it feels like to play a fighting game, even though it's not actually anything like playing one. The visuals and the need for fast reflexes have been taken out, but the idea of anticipating the opponent's tactics based on the situation and using the appropriate counter is very much relevant. So maybe something in this mold could work?
11  Campaign Creation / Meta / Re: Dark Souls as a Table-Top (or Chat-Based) RPG on: July 29, 2018, 06:14:03 PM


The skills are likely absent because the Souls games don't have them either - all resolutions are either through combat (where some boss and non-boss fights are optional), or through decisions that can have immediate- or long-term consequences. Given that the protagonist in the games only ever has their dialogue implied by these decisions and nothing else, such a limited resolution mechanic might not be enough, but it does have the "advantage" of being able to allow you to freely roleplay without having to worry about any restrictions (other than combat and environmental obstacles).
I get that, but it seems like the tabletop game is trying to emulate the video game too closely. Open-ended gameplay where you can use lots of different skills to accomplish tasks is pretty difficult to put into a video game in a satisfying way, but with a DM to adjudicate things instead of having to only rely on predetermined outcomes, it becomes possible, and this added depth and increased capabilities can make up for some of the excitement that the video game has that a tabletop version will probably lack.

I'm glad you put scare quotes around that supposed "advantage" because it isn't really an advantage at all. This is where I am not a fan of OSR at all, and I am much more in favor of Fate-style light and abstracted rules rather than just not having rules. I mean, I'll say it again, because it's sort of important-- the game does not have any sort of a generic task resolution system at all! You can extrapolate a really terrible one from the way you dodge traps, but nobody actually bothered to even do that.


I wonder if this sort of system (possibly with changes) would work if there were a chat bot built to support all sorts of calculations for the players. This could be as simple as tracking stamina, and as complex as taking character "sheet" inputs and keeping a database of the derived stats, which is then queried whenever a combat action is taken. It seems like any system that is going to properly simulate the Souls feel is going to feature some way to make combat really fast - at least in comparison to more typical table-tops (I'd imagine a proper table-top Dark Souls game would feature combats lasting on the order of 2-5 minutes, as opposed to the 15+ that D&D battles can often occupy).
I'm somewhat ambivalent about the merits of chat bot automation. I totally agree with you that fast combat is necessary, and slow dragging D&D-style combats would ruin the game. However, I also know that I tried to automate a lot of stuff related to the Asura system in sparkbot and all it really ever ended up doing was confusing people, and we barely ever used most of it. Perhaps I could have designed a clearer user interface, so I'm not totally turned off on the idea, but I'm also not sure how much it would help.

A more off the wall idea, I think, if we're talking computer enhancement, would be to simply jump into a game of Dark Souls set up to match the circumstances and play the combat in the game. Of course, this would at best require a lot of preparation on the part of the GM and to be honest might not even be possible at all, depending on the extent that Dark Souls can be modded. So that probably isn't going to happen.


I had actually thought you'd like the respawn mechanic - I think it's a convenient middle-ground between our stances on character death.
I don't like it because it seems like it's focused on forcing you to replay certain parts of the game, especially replaying combat. This is tolerable in a video game but I think it's terrible in a tabletop game.


One of the major components of the game series however is the online summoning co-op/invading PvP aspect, and while there's no reason you can't play without it (speed-runners do it all of the time, as do a lot of first-time players), I feel like it wouldn't have the same feel if the risk of the random invader encounters wasn't there (especially where there's usually an area or two in each game that is specifically designed to be protected by these invading players and/or NPCs).
Do you think the invading aspect is something that is actually important to the game's story, or is it mostly added to allow for a multiplayer aspect, which the tabletop game will already have by necessity? That is, is it something essential to the feeling of the world?
12  Campaign Creation / Meta / Re: Dark Souls as a Table-Top (or Chat-Based) RPG on: July 29, 2018, 02:19:30 PM
As I mentioned already, this system seems like a rather OSR-feeling system with a lot of weird stuff bolted on that I don't know enough about Dark Souls to know if it helps duplicate the feel of the game or is just weird. You are more experienced with these games than me, so if you feel like it captures the Dark Souls experience in tabletop form, I'll take your word for that. As a tabletop system itself, though, I'm not hugely into this.

Like OD&D, you randomly generate your stats by just rolling in order and you get what you get. And also like OD&D this isn't as big of a problem as it might seem because they don't actually do a whole lot. Your stat modifiers are based on dividing your stat by ten so everyone is going to get pushed into the same range, and the only real advantage you'll have is if you happen to get a +2 instead of a +1 in some stats... which doesn't matter that much, except with Endurance, where that means you get an extra Stamina and that basically means you get an extra action in combat so that's actually a pretty big deal.

As far as I can tell, the game has another similarity to OD&D in that it just kind of lacks a general task resolution system. There aren't skills as such; all I could find was some wonky roll-under mechanic using your Dexterity mod to dodge traps that you'll almost always fail.

Combat seems to be the big way that you use the crunch of this system, which I think is fitting for the feel of Dark Souls. A tabletop game is always going to be slower to resolve stuff than a video game, though, so I wonder if the added narrative flexibility really makes up for that in a satisfying way. The abstracting of range into "rings" is pretty cool and I like that, but otherwise the way the combat system works based on spending dice from a dice pool doesn't really feel like anything you'd be doing in Dark Souls and requires enough strategy on the level of this weird dice meta-game you're playing that it might be anti-immersive.

Then again when you're playing Dark Souls you're probably always going to have the sense you're playing a video game so maybe "immersion" isn't as important if that's the real feel you're trying to create. I mean, there's a whole respawning mechanic, which feels more like Paranoia and is kind of silly in a tabletop game. That whole "Host" mechanic is based on an explicit contrivance of the video game so adding it as an actual tabletop game mechanic is really goofy-- good thing it's an optional rule, I guess.

Personally, I'd be open to playing a "Dark Souls inspired game" in the sense of a dark fantasy game with difficult combat, but maybe not with these rules.

13  Campaign Creation / Meta / Re: Character Weakness on: April 24, 2018, 10:39:17 PM


OK, yes, if we're going to call that a rule, I would definitely agree that a lot of my players' and/or my own characters' off-the-sheet solutions rely on rules. That said, they're often rules made up for a specific creature or situation (these creepy leech-vampires I created) which the characters have to discover in play (sneaking into a room, reading a journal, experimenting), as opposed to a rule they found on a character sheet or in a rule book.
Yeah, I said "could very well thought of" because I'm honestly kind of back and forth as to whether this is really the sort of thing that I'd call a rule, because it sort of is (in that it's a defined fact about the world with clear gameplay consequences) and it sort of isn't (because it's also very specific and a more of a fact about the setting) but in any case having definite facts about the world that can be found out does help with player agency, which is ultimately what I'm actually after with my constant harping on about rules and such.

This does make me wonder, would you feel particularly like players were circumventing the chance for creative solutions with numbers (or whatever you want to call it) if they came about the idea that vampires are repelled by salt by succeeding at a knowledge check rather than doing some more in-depth roleplayed thing like looking in a book about vampires, or whatever?


That doesn’t mean there can’t be a pre-defined solution in mind, though, if there is enough information that someone can realistically reason the right outcome, as in the piggyback encounter.
To an extent, sure, though it seems too easy for a puzzle with a single pre-defined solution and not a lot of wiggle room to turn into a "guess what the DM is thinking" sort of situation, and that's no fun for anyone. This is probably another case where I don't have quite as much confidence in the the DM (as in, in the abstract idea of "the DM," not a specific person) as you do.


I want players to think their way around the uncertain/sticky situations by concocting clever, unorthodox solutions to problems, some of which I might have pre-imagined, but others which are wholly novel. If I'm playing, I want to do this myself.
Me too, for the most part.


By making the default or obvious solutions to problems extremely risky, upping the danger associated with them, or decreasing player character capabilities in some way (playing with weak characters), unorthodox thinking is incentivized.
I'm basically on board here, too, as long as it's also clear that the unorthodox solutions are likely to be safer, which is probably how it works but not necessarily. I mean, in a sadistic sort of negadungeon game the DM may put in weird ideas that end up being even more dangerous... that's a little too much of a 'gotcha' design to me, but some of the oldschool Gygaxian death dungeons did stuff like this.


While characters should have some competencies (especially ones that already incline themselves to interesting solutions), and the system's rules do need to be there to provide structure when necessary, unorthodox solutions will often depend more on specific environmental or unique "rules" and require less dice-rolling or standard applications of character abilities than the obvious solutions.
I think this is where you kind of lose me. I understand what you're saying, but this kind of situation also has the potential to turn into a railroad really quickly. I think you're a good enough DM that you'd avoid doing that, for the most part, but it's a very real risk, especially in games that aren't as richly developed and dynamic as yours.
14  Campaign Creation / Meta / Re: Character Weakness on: April 24, 2018, 07:32:40 PM


That's true, but that doesn't mean they necessarily need rolls.
Right, and I probably should have made it more clear that the thing that I am advocating for here is not rolls but rules. The two often go together, but it's also important to have at least some codified idea what your character can just do, without a roll, in order to have a sense of your capabilities and place in the world. Knowing what you can do without a roll is, of course, even more important in a game where the rolls are likely to be stacked against you, because you'll probably be trying to avoid having to push your luck.

So I'm not saying to insert rolls where they aren't needed, or anything like that. I'm saying that the game needs some semblance of structure in order that players are able to have a sense of what effects their actions will have. If all players have to go on is pure DM fiat or trying to guess some pre-defined puzzle solution or something, then that adversely affects player agency, because they can't really guess-- critical thinking of course requires that you are able to reason an outcome.

In this context, I think our views are starting to converge, because, in my way of looking at it, "vampires are repelled by salt" could very well be thought of as a rule. It is a rule that can be talked about in-universe, which is not true of all of them (and due to the inability of specific simulationist rules to account for everything the players could possibly think of, I'm much more of a fan these days of Fate-style meta-rules) but it's still a defined capability that is being put into the players' hands and can be used by them in order to guide their actions.

To go back to what initially prompted the discussion, I think that this is why I still think that characters who have a healthy number of a capabilities have more to work with when it comes to creative solutions. It's true that they may also be able to just use numbers to bludgeon their way past a problem, but I still contend that feels like it's just as much bad DMing to let them get away with too much of that as it is to arbitrarily call an idea stupid and say it won't work. For example, a player playing a character with a high bluff or diplomacy bonus should still have to roleplay what they say. A talented wizard still has to think how to use those weird spells, and some like silent image are useless except in the hands of someone willing to come up with clever solutions to problems. These are abilities that are on the character sheet, rather than being in the world, so they're "easier" to some extent-- but they're also abilities that the player is going to be intimately familiar with, because they're always with the character, so why not make use of them?


Again, I am not anti-rules or something.
I didn't mean to imply that I thought you were. I think the disconnect is that I see uncertainty and sticky situations where you may not, so I'm looking for rules to fall back on in places that you probably won't. For example, since I mentioned meta-rules above, I very much like how Fate is structured, with the idea of being less about rules that tell what happens and more about rules that exist to tell how to tell the story in a way that players retain agency and have certain codified levels of narrative control. You'd probably prefer to not do this quite as much, due to the way it can be immersion-breaking.


My method of play here is in no sense DM-proof. And it's also the case that other styles or methods of play that rely less on DM judgment - i.e. where the rules are much more front-and-centre much more of the time - might be more fun than a game run poorly in the style I'm describing.
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think you're a good DM, so I don't want to bash on you or anything; maybe you're a good enough DM to even be able to pull this stuff off, but I feel like that's not the usual case, so I tend to advocate for solutions that are a little more tolerant of human error.
15  Campaign Creation / Meta / Re: Character Weakness on: April 24, 2018, 05:21:57 PM


One way to think about the kind of thing I'm talking about is that the off-the-sheet solutions I'm imagining tend to involve considerably less uncertainty.
This makes sense, and I like your list of examples, but your examples are still features in the dungeon that you're thinking of as possible solutions to this problem-- which of course means you've already accounted for them, so they aren't in the realm of uncertainty. I know that you're making up the whole example yourself, so it's basically impossible for you to do anything but, since you can't make a list of things that you haven't thought of. The point I'm trying to make, though, is that in a real game the players are going to think of some things that you haven't accounted for, and perhaps try to use items they have or character abilities or features of the dungeon or whatever in ways that you didn't anticipate they ever would. I tried to throw out a few possibilities in my last post about a cryomancer and a magic flute, or whatever, as examples of things that the DM might not have thought of, and you responded:


And some of those solutions will require tons of rules and some will require very few and many will require on-the-fly rulings because no system can be comprehensive about everything.
This is a true statement, but it doesn't seem to me to mesh very well with your other idea that creative solutions are somehow reducing uncertainty. Unless they're the exact creative solutions that the DM planned for in advance, I guess? It really seems like there's a need for something more concrete here. To go on with that idea...


If a creative solution to a problem is going to involve as much uncertainy and risk as the straightforward solution, it's essentially a redundant or pointless solution. But if it serves to mitigate risk and uncertainty, it becomes worthwhile.
This makes sense to me, but in the absence of a system that includes mechanics that support the kinds of tasks the players are reasonably expected to do, how are the players supposed to even know that? If there is no real mechanical support for the players' actions so the DM is more or less making up everything ad hoc, how are the players supposed to have any idea what's possible beyond a lengthy and possibly frustrating (for both sides) Q&A session? I know that no rules can be truly comprehensive, and there's always going to be DM ruling and a certain degree of questioning and negotiation to get to that ruling, but I also feel like it's important to have some idea what their chances are, and this is especially true in a situation where any time the dice come out the odds are likely to be stacked against them.

I mean, we can say that a "good idea" will always just work by DM fiat, but that's very subjective and difficult to quantify, especially when the players earnestly think something will work and the DM, either by virtue of having more information about the setting or just a different opinion on things, has decided that it won't. In the absence of any sort of structure being provided by the rules, what then? How is anyone to know, and how can we avoid an argument, if not by using rules?

At one point some years ago, I played in a game where we spent the better part of an entire session hatching this complicated plan to trick the main villain involving using this psionic artifact that we'd found to conjure illusions or something like that. The whole thing failed, but not due to bad luck or plot twists or anything, but rather the GM had just decided that our plan was a stupid idea and wasn't going to work. To a certain extent, it was the GM's fault; she was a somewhat inexperienced GM and we talked this out later on and she did admit she probably handled it wrong. However, since the whole thing was ultimately based on a "crazy off-the-sheet solution" adjudicated by GM fiat, I also feel like it's relevant.


An extremely good example from a game I'm playing in currently (this was last night, in fact).
Maybe I'm not getting the full nuance of the situation, or I'm reading things very uncharitably, but this seems more like the sort of rigorous solution that doesn't really count because it's one specific thing that has been predefined by the DM to always lead to automatic success. I mean, sometimes puzzles in RPGs work like that, but I generally prefer more open-ended sorts of things, because it can be annoying otherwise-- it's no fun to just be stuck, and it eats up valuable play time. When thing are open-ended, though, that means the solution is often going to be something the DM never thought of.
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