Freaky Game Friday: Tales of Gaea

Freaky Game Friday: Tales of Gaea

1974: Gary Gygax publishes the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons
1974 and One Day: Games Designers around the world cry “ME TOO!”

Our seminal history of roleplaying aside, it would be well after the sound and fury – some 26 years hence – that Hinterwelt Enterprises would publish Tales of Gaea, but it does go to show that even after two and a half decades of new games, reprints of old games and wholly different ideas about roleplaying that there are still bits of the dead horse to wail on.

Absent a webpage, this is taken from RPGNet’s database:

Set in a world of many races, Tales of Gaea is the story of sacrifice of the goddess Gaea for the creation she loves. The children of Gaea go on about their lives, seeking their fortunes and building their empires.

And I have to say, this pretty well sums up the extent of the game world. Deity dies to save the world; populace continues to fuck about regardless. The extent to which the meta-narrative affects the game world is as staggering as any “surprise” you’d find in the first three Star Wars movies and just about as relevant to the overall plot. It boils down to the usual fantasy fare of meet in tavern, find a dungeon, empty the dungeon, cash-in and repeat…

Though it should be said that Freaky Game Friday (Weird Game Wednesday) doesn’t have the luxury of deconstructing backstory and game-world history or whatever narrative exists to justify the world. The questions are: ‘Can we create a character and run a game in one night?’ and ‘How much fun do we have doing it?’

The answer, to the first question at least, was ‘No’.

Chosen because there was a dragon on a cover, a sure sign that the book is to be taken seriously, Wednesday Adam (maybe now Friday Adam) familiarised himself with the book. Four days before the game, we get this:

In preparation for the game, please make sure to print a character
sheet:

http://tog.hinterwelt.com/TOGData/Charsheet.pdf

(at least the first 2 pages, anyway)

Please also go to the following link and read the example of character creation:

http://tog.hinterwelt.com/TOGHtml/Output/TogChap1.html#39436

Then cry a little inside, when you realise that, other than the
setting’s creation myth, this is the FIRST THING IN THE RULEBOOK.

Or how about going here:

http://tog.hinterwelt.com/TOGHtml/Output/TogChap3.html

And scrolling to the “Money” section at the bottom. If you don’t die a little from reading that, you’re already in Hell.

It should be mentioned that while Rhys, Ness and I have the chore of playing the game, Adam is the one who has to learn about it enough to it, and it’s impressive that he does this, particularly when you go back through the write-ups and see what we’ve all endured.

Of course, despite this preview of things to come, only Ness bothered to read the attachments and, on the night of the game, completely changed her character anyway so we remain true to the spirit of Freaky Game Friday which may also explain why it took 2 hours to create characters.

CHARACTER CREATION:

First of all, we learn that the layout of the book is as follows.

1: Creation Myth
2: Character Creation
3: Experience and Spells …together at last! (?)
4: Stuff
5: More stuff.
6: Races for Character Creation

…wait, what?

Not wanting to sand Adam’s thumb to a nub, we elect to start our character creation with Race. The wholly original lexicon of characters you can choose from is found on Page 23 of the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Guide, reprinted here for your convenience. The choices are:

Human
Elf
Halfing
Dwarf
Gnome

Where things get a little chica-crazie is the introduction of Lizardmen (Suan-Lesthra), which is pretty much what you’re thinking if you’re thinking about Spider-Man’s foe ‘The Lizard’, sans the labcoat.

You then get told about sub-races of the species, except for humans because all humans are the same regardless of geographical location and please don’t sue us because we didn’t get into roleplay game design and publishing for the money at least not now that we know better. Sub-races convey bonuses on top of any racial abilities or defects. They are also only relevant to the characters we elected to play because we’re on a timetable. Buy the book if you want to learn more, which, by the way, is the closest thing to an endorsement you’ll get.

It’s important to note that, once again, in addition to being ‘inspired’ by Tolkien’s works, Tales of Gaea also thought randomly rolling attributes was a nifty idea.

Actually, to its credit, this is handled better than most randomly rolled characters (I’m looking at you, Palladium!) by the luxury of rolling three 20 sided dice and then taking the highest one. Certain races start with a set value and then have you roll a 2 sided dice (or flip a coin) to see how average or better you are. There is also the optional rule of assigning rolled values to stats instead of letting the dice fall where they may. This, however, was a rule Adam decided not to employ so, once again, what we’d like to play and what we end up with are as dissimilar as Michael Jordan to Stephen Hawking.

Ness: Originally wanting to play an Elven Ranger, elected instead to play a Dwarven Footman (not actually a joke– is in fact a soldier). The choice of ‘Dwarf’ was hers to make as she up and decided to change her mind in the last furlough of conceptualisation. The Footman class was chosen because who’s wants a Dwarven Ranger. Initially it was going to be a Dwarven Blacksmith until it was explained that the involvement of her game would be working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week building stuff that actual adventurers would use to fight dragons, save damsels and recover treasure. Her choice of sub-races included:

Steel: Armour Forging Skill for Free.
Green: Disarm traps and locate traps for free. (Also serve as ornaments in people’s gardens so maybe there is some veracity to the Dwarven Ranger concept). Not, in fact, green skinned.
Balen: Get a 10% bonus in metalworking, weapon-forging, armour-forging, but don’t get these skills for free.
Achlen: Free weapon-forging skill
Ivory: Jewel-crafting
Malyn: +1 to hit and damage with hammers.
Hecklen: +1 to hit and damage with axes

Ness was fixated on hammers at the time and opted to be a Malyn Dwarf. This fixation did not, on occasion, prevent her from announcing that she’d ‘stab’ the enemy.

Rhys had decided his character was going to be a human cavalryman (which in the world of Gaea means a bard of some description for reasons unknown) and, unburdened with the complexities of sub-races and attribute modifiers, will rejoin us later in the write-up.

Not having a clue what I wanted, I was going to take up the Elf flag that Ness had dropped until Adam threw down the gauntlet that I ‘get into the spirit of the game’ and choose a Lizardman. Why not! I had also decided to take the closest approximate of a mage this game had to offer, in keeping with our usual character choices for Freaky Game Fridays. Neither of us knew anything about Lizardmen including why there would never be a Lizardman mage or, for that matter, a Lizardman capable of basic literacy. More on that later…

Sub-races for Lizardmen:
Brown
Black
Green
Grey
White
Tan

This, in addition to coordinating with my shoes and handbag, had varying bonuses or feats to do with my Tail Attack.

Rhys, Ness and Me: …TAIL ATTACK!?

As it turned out, this was not to the strangest feat the Lizardmen could boast.

Because it was cool and gave me a hefty 5D8 Bonus damage to Tail Attacks, I chose ‘Black’.

We then moved onto rolling our characters…

Ness got an 18 in Strength, 20 in Agility, 11 Constitution, Dexterity 8 Intelligence, 19 Wisdom, 20 Appearance, 12 Charisma, 18 Piety, 1 Luck and 14 Will.

Rhys got 9 Strength, 12 Agility, 9 Constitution, 14 Dexterity, 13 Intelligence, 20 Wisdom, 20 Appearance, 20 Charisma, 10 Luck and 17 Will

I got 20 Strength, 10 Agility, 18 Constitution, 20 Dexterity, 13 Intelligence, 15 Luck, 19 Piety

We were told not to get too attached to these stats as there were bonuses and handicaps to be applied, except for Rhys who being human, would be unchanged; begging the question that given how naturally gifted the other races are, why would humans be the dominant race at every fantasy setting? It was postulated that, caught up in the wave of envy and depression because every other race was better in some way, humans had lots of consolation sex.

Ness’s Constitution went from 11 to 23, and her Strength went from 18 to 24, though her appearance dropped from 20 to 10 and her Charisma from 20 to 15. Notable bonuses came in the form of Metalworking Skill, Dark-Sight, and a +6 to save versus Poison and a +8 to Magic Resistance. With the Dwarven and Gnome languages, and despite her bitching about losing points off her only 20-valued attributes, Ness’s rolls had favoured her warrior character really well.

Not so much in my mage’s case…

Impressive scores in Strength, Dexterity and Constitution had me hemming and hawing on choosing a Mage. That my Strength went to 25 and Constitution to 23 because of racial bonus made compelling arguments for a warrior class. What clinched it was the announcement that I had to subtract 10(!) from my paltry 13 Intelligence, as well as 5 from Wisdom, making me wonder how Lizardmen had survived as a species at all considering they could get an Intelligence of 0. With Intelligent Design successfully debunked, it seems that I would be a warrior.

In addition to my mighty Tail Attack at level 3, I got 2 levels in Swimming, and 1 level of Swamp Survival. Adam then dropped the bombshell.

Adam: I am going to read the next sentence verbatim: ‘See Heat Sources With Their Tongue’.

All:

Me: …where would I possibly write that?!

Turns out there isn’t a “Tongue Section” on any of the four pages of character sheets AT ALL, so it got squeezed into “Skills”. It didn’t even come with a rank. I could just do it. So there!

I also got a Magic Resistance of 7, but nobody cared after the ‘gifts’ nature (which would be Gaea, I suppose) gave the Lizardmen.

Fortitude Points, the measure of a character’s survivability was next and was involved, to say the least. (Strength + Constitution + Will) divided by 3 + Half Constitution (again). Then roll 1D4 for every point of Constitution over 20 to determine the final score. Phew! Final scores:

Ness: 40
Me: 40
Rhys: 16

At this point Rhys was considering the change to any Class that involved staying away from the enemy. Adding Strength, Constitution and Dexterity to work out our Defence value, leaving Rhys with ‘10’, sealed the deal.

But the math adventure did not stop there! The character sheet had a hit location drawn up as a stick-cube figure (picture included for your reference because, frankly, words fail me).

Base Fortitude Points are placed in the boxes, multiplied or divided by a value determined by the location on the stick figure: half Base Fortitude for Head and Chest; double Base Fortitude for Arms, Hands and Feet. The intent, such as Adam was able to determine, was to build the fragility of the locations into damage results while rolling a consistent number of dice and bonuses. What it also does is give you arms of steel with Ness and myself having 160 hit-points in our fingers and toes.

Attribute bonuses were awarded next with the discovery that Ness would be the slowest member of the party but able to lift 2500 pounds, I would be able to lift 8000 pounds and still be fastest and Rhys could manage 12 pounds before he started to slow.

Rhys: 12 pounds?! A child could carry 12 pounds!
Me: Yeah, but eventually they get bored with it.
Adam: At least you didn’t get a Constitution of 1 to 3. You could carry 0 pounds before being encumbered. Anything below 8 means you can only carry 1 pound, which is pretty much light clothing.
Rhys: Did they do any kind of test or real-world reference before pulling these numbers out of their arse?!

The 20’s in Wisdom, Appearance and Charisma being the only part of the character in any way redeemable, Rhys decided to keep foes at range and leverage off his high scores by being a Cleric. As a consequence, he would be lumbered with testing the Magic System. Anyone who’s read the ‘Proteus’ review will recall how stunningly this went…

As it turned out though, being magical isn’t that unique, as everyone is and each can get 3 spells regardless of your character type. However, given Ness’s current “affection” for hammers and my natural abilities for sucking at magic, this was going to be Rhys’s bag.

Skills, dependent on our classes, were quickly awarded and the salient points for the purpose of this write-up is that if you wanted to defend yourself further than the paltry number you were given: get a skill in Armour Type unless you wanted to operate under penalties and also learn the Parry Skill. As it turns out, the Parry Skill isn’t commensurate with learning how to use a weapon which, in Fencing Terms, translates to learning all the attacks and trusting that your arms are longer than your opponent’s. The other interesting discovery was…

Adam: Natural Attacks can not be parried!
Ben: OhhhhhhhhhhhReally…
Ness: Your tail is awesome!
Rhys: Hang on! You can’t parry punches or kicks with a weapon?
Adam: Yep!
Rhys: Now I really want to meet the game designers. I’ll have a sword and they can try punching me. There! You’re parried… and bleeding!

The Gods decree with attributes and rules like these, my Lizardman would be a Specialist. Further, he would be a Specialist in Tail-Fu! Unfortunately, the six specialty weapons that came with the class don’t include Tails, and so I threw all of them into Archery and put whatever bonus points that I got from Wisdom and Intelligence (not a lot) I had were put into Parry, Armour and a Level 6 Tail.

Rhys: I want it on record that this game was designed by Moon Logic.

Rhys was then treated to a quick overview of what he could do as Cleric. From the book:

Clerics may call on their God’s spheres of power. If you worship a God of Healing, Peace and Chickens, you can calm a person, heal damage or create fried chicken. However you would not be able to create a Chicken-Bomb or cast Fireball. A really, really hot chicken maybe…

Basically the player declares what miracle under the spheres of his God he is trying to accomplish, which is then rolled against Piety, the idea being to get under its value on D20. There is a cumulative -3 to Piety for each miracle after the first until you pray for an hour. Further, after the miracle is performed, the Cleric must roll under his constitution or take damage because Gods don’t seem to like it when you ask for help. This is probably why nobody really gives a shit about Gaea’s sacrifice.

After getting a summary of what gods exist, Rhys chooses Amagatafishii, Avatar of Knowledge whose symbol is, in fact, a golden disk with a fish stencilled onto it. Rhys’s character worships The Sunfish!

The next hurdle came in the form of hard cash. Our skill selections in weapons and armour had left Adam giggling and it wasn’t until this chapter that we learnt why.

Adam: Roll percentile dice and don’t get between 1 and 5.

Rhys rolled 8, I rolled 14 and Ness rolled 87, which translated into 1D10 gold sovereigns for Rhys and I while Ness rolled 9D20 (you heard me). Our skill selections were then called into sharp relief as Adam announced Rhys’s Lucien Hammer he’d pondered taking would cost 40 gold sovereigns, as would my longbow.

Me: What about a short bow?
Adam: That’s 20 gold sovereigns.
Me: Well, you can’t fault their maths, I suppose…

Actually it went a little more like…

Me: WHAT THE HELL!? This weapon predates Bronze Age development! I can rip off a branch, tie some string and make a bloody fortune selling it at market! Hell, with my strength I could use a tree trunk with some catgut!

Rhys was not thrilled that the most he could afford would be a staff or cudgel, weighing in at 15 copper and leaving something of a gap in finances between crap found in the dirt and the double digit figures of gold sovereigns for everything else, but accepted that to afford armour, he had no choice in the matter. Rhys and I chucked out 4 gold pieces for Boiled Leather Armour, which was a real problem for Rhys’s character as his survivability was already in serious doubt.

Ness, meanwhile, bought up a hammer, chainmail and a shield with change enough to jingle whenever she walked down a street. It was easy to see why our characters hung around each other.

The final thing to note about the cash of Gaea is 100 Gold is equal to 1 Platinum, but it takes 150 Copper pieces to equal 1 Gold Sovereign. Base 10 mathematics, it seemed, had no place in stories of high fantasy.
As mentioned, everyone is magic though the extent to which you’re magic isn’t just limited by your intelligence. Humans and Halflings got access to higher realms of magic while every other race could suck it in the lower realms of magic. This, apparently, is due to a better connection with the gods by the kiss-arse Humans and Halflings despite the fact that there is a God of Dwarves present in the pantheon.

Higher realm magic is based of Piety whereas lesser realm isn’t. Rhys’s character had one more chance to redeem itself and we all listened as Adam read out the magic groupings of the greater powers.

Adam: Natural Powers, Wolfsbane, Underworld, Vampiric…
Rhys: What does ‘Vampiric’ get?
Adam: Mental Manipulation, Illusion and Fire powers.
Rhys: I’ll take that
Me: Is your name going to be ‘Edward’.
Rhys: No, and fuck you, in short.
Me: Your priest is going to be walking about in the daylight, right?
Rhys: Yes, and no he will not ‘sparkle’. I’m going for Vampiric to get Fire spells that possibly won’t suck.
Adam: Okay, First Level Powers: Glow–
Ness and Me:

After learning that Rhys wouldn’t get a combat power in the Higher Realms until level 4, we discovered that Lesser Realms magic is all about the fighting. Deciding to go with that despite it rolling on Intelligence rather than Piety, Rhys chose ‘Bolt’, ‘Heal’ and ‘Create Staff’ which ended up saving him 40 coppper.

Final step was to name our characters:

Rhys: Joe
Ness: Thera Thunderthighs
Me: Gorn (I’m perfectly safe so long as I don’t face an enemy with a giant rock!)

Not wanting to waste any more time, we skipped the tedium of buying the standard adventurer’s layout of equipment (Flint, tinder, rope, pouches, 10 foot pole, etc) and threw ourselves into the game proper.

No it didn’t take this long after all. This is the edited version…

THE ADVENTURE

Joe and Gorn reside in a human village near a dwarven stronghold where Thyra hails from. Thyra is in town and awaiting the arrival of dwarven caravan of merchants with whom she can catch a ride back to her home. A good plan until it becomes apparent that the caravan is late (gasp!) even for dwarfs whose movement-rate is shit! Deciding to investigate, the three of us set out though this does take some effort to convince Joe as he doesn’t want to die. Movement is slow as Joe is over his weight limit, but still not as slow as Thyra, who is handicapped by her race. After much travelling, the party encounters a tree that has fallen across the path and beyond that, the remains of the caravan.

Thyra believes it was a trap sprung by bandits. Gorn believes that the tree killed them all when it fell on top of them, despite the fact that the corpses have arrows sticking out of them (Gorn hypothesizes it was an ‘Arrow Tree’). Joe just shakes his head (which is roleplayed excellently by Rhys) and fights the urge to go home.

After much debate over the death of the dwarfs (CSI: Gaea, this ain’t) and lucrative gains of being bandits as they get bows and can throw about arrows like they were nothing, Adam asks:

Adam: Does anyone have a ‘Tracking’ skill?
All: No.
Adam: Does anyone have any spare skill points to take ‘Tracking’?

The adventure is clearly riding on this, so…

Ness: I have tracking!
Adam: Do you…
Ness: Yep! I misspelled it as ‘Tapping’! (Tapping is the skill used to determine whether a wall is hollow or not).
Adam: …great.

And we set off, following the trail to a cave where a scruffy human emerges to take a leak.

Gorn: Hey! Seen any bandits?

The bandit yelps, pisses on himself and runs into the cave. Gorn is confused despite Joe pointing out that he is, in fact, a bandit. In hot pursuit we enter the cave after him and an alarm is called.

A quick word on one of the big things I hate about Dungeons & Dragons: At level one, it doesn’t matter if you’re Krull III, Son of Krull II and wielder of the mighty axe Goreful. At level one, you are Pest Control. You are Krull-Sterminator, A Family Business in Vermin Removal. And not only is this your lot until the lofty heights of level 4, it is the only thing you’re capable of doing! Those dungeon rats and caterpillars are hardcore at this level and don’t even think about Goblins until you’ve dropped your first 5000 experience points. I don’t know how D&D; retains its audience but I’ll bet real money that Exterminator – The Scuttling or Timber & Termites was not the game described to you when you purchased the book.

So it’s to the book’s credit, as well as Adam’s, that we weren’t lumbered with foes that could be dispatched with a boot heel.

COMBAT

Initiative is determined by rolling a D6 and adding initiative modifiers determined by high scores in Agility and/or using the ‘Draw Weapon’ Skill.

Tales of Gaea works on that oh-so-delightful randomizer of rolling a D20 against a static defence value, which has the benefit, rare as it is, of calling out ’Natural 20!’ when it’s rolled and the many drawbacks of needing to roll 16 or more to have a chance of landing a blow. When a rare natural 20 comes up, Tales of Gaea also seems to like the idea of teasing the player with a critical hit by having you roll percentile dice and getting under 5% to see if you do double damage! At least, again, they’ve improved on the D&D; mechanic and let you deliver maximum damage if you fail to beat the astronomical odds. Where things go further askew is in the sequence after landing a blow.

The player rolls his/her ‘Targeting’ skill on percentile dice, hoping to get under his/her score so he/she can decide where on the stick figure the blow lands. As you’ll have noticed, hitting the hand is a waste of time. If the Targeting skill fails, a random roll of a D10 determines where the blow makes contact. Once ascertained where the blow ends up, damage is rolled.

The defender, if possessed of the ‘Parry’ skill, can roll under its value to see if the blow is deflected. This turns out to be worse as another table is consulted which compares strength and dexterity of the combatants, size, level of character and other factors to modify what value you have to roll under.

Back to the adventure, Gorn catches up with the urine-soaked intruder and launches his first tail attack which turned out to be a fumble. Some quick table consultation and a random roll determines that he missed both this attack and his second attack.

Joe casts his Bolt spell and fumbles as well! Another table consultation reveals that he hit himself with the spell, in the head (!), for 6 points of damage. Fortunately the Boiled Leather Armour soaks this, though we grimly consider that this could be the shortest combat exchange in the history of roleplay.

Thyra hasn’t caught up yet so we roll initiative again. Thyra gets to go first and while she misses with her first attack, but hits on the second. Missing with her Target skill, the blow lands on his arm, smashing through the armour and into meaty hit points just as reinforcements emerge from deeper in the cave.

Joe tries another Bolt, fumbles again and trips over himself. The bandits go next, failing to hit Thyra thanks to her armour and preternatural agility. I go next and redeem myself by hitting a bandit for 43 points of damage with my tail. The bandit still stands but only because he makes a Will save and is primed for my second attack, which fumbles! Another roll reveals that I too have tripped and I swap for another D20 that’s more amenable for combat.

Turns out this D20 isn’t much better though I don’t fumble again. Both of Gorn’s attacks miss while Thyra wounds her bandit in the groin. Consumed with pain and rage, the bandit counterattacks and fumbles. The bandits attacking Gorn launch a bevy of four strikes with only one of them landing a blow, which is easily parried. One of the bandits fumbles in the attempt and hits himself in the groin.

Joe, or Rhys, tired of this shit brings out the big guns and calls on the power of his god against four of the bandits. Taking the penalty of attacking so many opponents (which only turns out to be -2), Joe successfully calls upon the power, creating a Firestorm spell, but fails his Constitution check, causing himself damage in the process. Fortunately he isn’t the only one to take damage and the four bandits take much more, to the tune of 26 points of damage (2xD20+1D8+1D6) with the damage spread out over random hit locations. Fortunately one of those locations was the head and the bandit dies.

Despite the damage Joe sustained in the process, miracles prove their effectiveness this round.

Thyra goes first this round and lashes out with her hammer, landing her blow in the arm again so keeping her opponent in the game. Another flurry of attacks by the bandits result in little happening and another of them fumbling which, in this case, means he hits another bandit. Nobody is dead though a lot are wounded and one of Gorn’s attacks are successful, destroying another bandit’s head. Joe calls on another miracle, same as the first but only to two targets this time, fails both Piety and Constitution checks and hurts his everything to tune of five points.

Thyra misses her bandit on the next round, I hit but fail to kill the bandit. Rhys tries his miracle again in an attempt to either kill the bandits or die trying. The miracle works but the Constitution check fails again and Rhys, now in negative hit points, makes a will save while being 1 hit point away from death. Both bandits are still standing, but not by much.

The next round of combat sees me hit my bandit but miss my targeting roll. I deal 47 points to the bandit’s right hand, which is absorbed by the location’s gargantuan number of hit points. Rhys decides to employ a Heal spell, regaining 15 hit points to five locations, completely restoring himself except for in his legs. Thyra kills her bandit and the last one legs it.

Chasing after him, Gorn triggers the second combat encounter which, after Adam flips through the book, turns out to be Orcs. Demonstrating the wonkiness of the game, Adam elects to put us up against two of the “weakest” orcs. Initiative is rolled and the orcs go first, making their hit but being parried by Gorn’s tail. It is here we discover that the weakest kind of orcs in Gaea:

Have chainmail and a plate helm.
Have a Dexerity of 22
Have two attacks a round
Have a Defence Value of 21

The weakest orc is on par with the either Gorn or Thyra, the luckiest members of the party!

Fortunately my orc misses the second attack and the second charges toward Thyra, who manages to parry the blows on account of the revelation that these mighty orcs and a dwarf are considered to be in the same size class!

Keeping to the back of the group, Joe decides to check out early, leaving this fight to Thyra and Gorn. It’s less a fight and more an experiment so I won’t recount the blow-by-blow of it except to say that while wounded in Gorn’s case, and scratched in Thyra’s case, we at least manage to walk away with their chainmail. The bandits are dead, the dwarves avenged and Adam takes the time to read out the stats of the ‘High Orc’ to make ourselves feel worse:

90 points of armour everywhere except his head where he has 240!
152 Fortitude Points in arms and legs, 76 in the chest, and 32 in the head.
3 Attacks at +9 to hit and does 6D10+26 Damage with a 70% Target Skill
Parry Skill at 70% and the rank to parry twice.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s a belief of mine that layouts and book design really didn’t sink in until White Wolf. It’s a consistent problem with the Weird/Freaky games played thus far. Also, its random rolled characters and I’m not sure what merit there is in playing a character that you lack such control over unless you couldn’t make a decision to save your life.

Consistent mechanics also help in terms of understanding rules and, more importantly, avoid taking up time by flipping back through the book. I mean rolling over numbers for combat, but under values for miracles, and skills, not to mention that this is the only time where I’ve seen a Natural 20 as something to be feared.

That said, I do like the idea of rolling 3D20 for attributes. Seems like more than a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a heroic character than rolling 3D6 (Might work as a substitute mechanic for Palladium). There are improvements on the D&D; model but, for 2002, Tales of Gaea was looking into the past for ideas instead of looking forward.

Rhys: It’s like, between 1st and 2nd Ed Dungeons & Dragons if it had never, ever been play-tested once. The notion of game balance went completely over their heads. It’s not horrible, but it’s also not good, though the best of the Weird Games so far.

Ness: I think the gap between characters can get ridiculous. Also, the fact I can add magic to my character, just cause, makes it even more absurd.

Adam: It’s classic D&D; Heartbreaker. What about this game do you have that wouldn’t make me just play D&D;?

So we can say it’s the best of a bad bunch, but when it’s being compared to Fringeworthy and Proteus, how much pride can you take in that?

Posted by Wordmobi

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3 Comments

  1. Psst … pics are missing.

    Also, I do not think D&D works like you think it does. For example, earlier editions didn’t have critical hits at all, whereas in 3rd edition, the chances of confirming a potential critical are directly based on your chances of hitting to begin with. Plus, D&D has more than enough monsters that killing vermin – while admittedly a common trope – isn’t actually a *necessary* step in the development process.

    (plus, some people actually like the fragility of low level characters. those that don’t, often just start at 2nd or 3rd level, or something)

  2. Oops. Thought I’d left this in Draft mode.
    Pics added.

    Third edition D&D was what I played in the brief times I did and hitting the enemy required a 17 or higher value. The number of times I’d roll a 20 followed by a single-digit number is a source of frustration that I’m clearly not yet over.

  3. Either your character sucked at fighting or the GM was throwing a lot of very high AC creatures at you. At 1st level for instance, a modestly built fighter-type should have about a +4 to attack. Most 1st-level appropriate enemies have an AC of 12-18, so need a minimum roll of somewhere between 8 and 14 to hit.

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