Thursday, October 2, 2014

Redoing The Monster Manual: Aarakocra

Listen 5th Edition, now that I'm moving in, there are gonna have to be some changes around here.

Let's start with A...
Click to enlarge
So as-is Aaracokra are hawk people who good and hang out in the Elemental Plane of Air. Which is the most boring and unevocative of the incredibly unevocative elemental planes.


-Attacks do more damage (this'll probably be an ongoing theme here. I recently came across a character optimization board who complained the monsters in Vornheim--the ones the D&Dw/pornstars girls made mincemeat of--were too hard. Which rather throws the whole philosophy of optimization into doubt. Or just the girls are hardcore as fuck.)

-I made them more a neutral weird wetland species. See: Stiltspear in Iron Council. New picture by me, from the old Redoing the Fiend Folio series.

-Took the giant egg table out of Dungeon Dozen--I figure each group of Aaracokra guards one big egg, and, hey, 12 results--so when it hatches is also what's in it. They keep hoping it'll hatch in the right hour so it'll be a reborn king.

-Also gave them 12 hour-dependent powers. They probably have to sing to get them to work.

-Changed most of the details, though I like the idea of them having an enemy and all I could think of was tigers because hip hop.

-Replaced the tale of the Aaracokra looking for the Rod of Seven parts with Borges story about the Simurgh looking for their king, the Simurgh. In the end, they discover they are the Simurgh. Maybe they Aaracokra don't know that all that has to happen is the egg hatches at the right hour and their king appears. Anyway, I got a while to figure it out, since the players aren't anywhere near a swamp right now.

Next up: Aboleth.


  1. Optimization assumes that everyone meets and battles under a set of predetermined circumstances. Working around those circumstances (As the Player OR the GM) throws the whole thing out of whack.

    At least it's what I think.

    Also, really looking forward to the Aboleth.

    1. Any game where the word "optimization" can be seriously applied to stats is not really going to pull off the "roleplaying" aspect of RPGing.

      At least that's what I think.

      Currently I'm watching to see if someone with Zak's creativity really can find space to breath in such an overly-specified mess/mass of rules like 5e. I doubt it, frankly, and maybe this post is the first sign that he's realising it too.

    2. God, the condescending shit you spout now and then gets old, Nagora.

      No edition-warring in my comments, little pig.

    3. I wasn't being condescending. I was observing that your style is very rules-light, and 5e is rules-heavy. I'm curious about how you are going to adapt to that. Simple enough, I think. I don't know which part of that you disagree with.

    4. You used the words "overly" (as if there's an objective standard and the game isn't meeting it) and "mess" to describe a game that isn't subjectively to your taste.
      That's claiming opinion as fact--that's edition warring. That's moronic and not allowed here.

      -You assumed that the revelation you've had about the rules heaviness (which amounts to Nagora Has A Certain Taste) is something other people will "come to realize" as if it's a fact to be discovered rather than merely your taste. So: A) that's more edition warring and B) It assumes I'm dumber or less familiar with 5e than you, which is condescending.

      Your effort to rebrand your first comment in your new comment as being a mere neutral observation and expression of curiousity is disingenuous.

      Unless you _address_ the things you said in your first comment and _what I said about them_ in your next comment, there's no way I can treat you as writing in good faith.

    5. I think that you're trying to portray my first post as somehow graven (by me) in some holy text-font. I don't intend to say that my posts or opinions are objectively right - ever. I also don't expect anyone else to seriously think that I read *their* posts that way either. I mean, that's not how conversation works, is it? If you're down the pub and someone says "Arsenal are the best football team in the world" we all know they're stating an opinion and they know it too, really. Nobody shouts at them for not prefacing it with "Now, chaps, this is just my opinion, okay?"

      But, yes, given all that, I will grant that the first was a bit aggressive, and I did back-pedal on it in my second post. I've been reading a lot of 5e questions on stackexchange and they've all been about mechanics and detailed breakdowns of numbers, which I find anathema to playing the character, so I was in a bad mood with 5e.

      Then I arrived here and read what actually seemed to be a post by you in the same vein: that you were saying that 5e is too tightly constraining on the DM and you wanted to loosen it up ("now that I'm moving in, there are gonna have to be some changes around here"). I thought that was significant given your relationship with the game's formation. Perhaps I was reading with bias; I'm still not sure.

      I'm certainly not imaging that you are less familiar with 5e than me - far from it. That's actually why I was interested; I was interested in seeing if your very familiarity with it could show a way through all this stuff about optimizing and numbers, and is a barbarian or a druid best for soaking up damage at low level, to a game that's actually about being a barbarian or a druid because that's the character you want to play.

      So, I'm not being condescending to you at all. I have faith that if anyone can find a free-flowing game in this thing it's you. Which is coupled with an assumption that you want to find it, of course.

      I'm not interested in edition wars and I didn't mention other editions. I'm interested in roleplaying and, sure, I dislike heavy rules systems. But I don't think that the existence of other editions means that one can not criticise or question this edition on its own terms, as a stand-alone; not every complaint has to be seen in the light of how another game does it. Silver tarnishes regardless of the existence of stainless steel.

      Well, that's about all I can say about that. I feel that you're looking for a fight every time I post so I'm expecting more hassle for this one. "Good faith" requires a certain amount of, well, faith that the person at the other end is just a normal person having, or trying to have, a normal conversation without analysing every word in case it could be taken in the worst possible light. We're all people here, Zak, just yakking about stuff we're interested in. Yes, we do sometime exaggerate for dramatic effect or overstate our cases to grandstand a bit and the anonymity and distance makes everyone a bit more robust in their statements. But it's rare that I, rare that anyone, seriously posts in the belief that we have divined the objective truth about anything at all let alone style. Maybe you should try assuming that when you read the comments. Otherwise you'll get to the point where no one wants to discuss anything unless they know they're in perfect accord with what you already think for fear of a torrent of abuse.

    6. 1. Ok this: "we do sometime exaggerate for dramatic effect or overstate our cases to grandstand a bit and the anonymity and distance makes everyone a bit more robust in their statements."

      This is why the RPG conversation is so often dumb and shitty. Because people can't control their urge to do that. There are objective facts in RPG conversation (like: you can have "challenge" without system mastery, Burning Wheel was designed by someone who says they got in screaming fights with their players over D&D rules) and there are subjective ideas. People failing to carefully parse between them is the reason they fight all the time about bullshit instead of getting things done.

      So don't do it. It is counterproductive.

      I cannot "assume everything you say is subjective" because that leaves out the possibility of you announcing objective facts, which we have to do very often in order to make sense.

      As for 5e: the nice thing about it is it's flexible. The math wankers can mathwank on it, the rest of us can hack it up to make it about as light as AD&D if not lighter.

      I run AD&D and 5e every week. I notice 5e is, once the character is created (which takes more work) lighter and quicker. I basically call for rolls about all the same things, it's just 5e is clearer.

      It's arguably lighter than, say Call of Cthulhu or BRP. So if you wanna call it "heavy" ok, but it seems middle-weight at most to me. That's an opinion.

    7. Maybe it's worth putting a stick in the sand for comparison - I regard 1e as pretty rules-heavy. OD&D is fairly light but I've played and ran lighter games still.

      You say that you play 5e, but I don't think you do - or at least I'd be fairly shocked if you did. I think that you play the same game that I do, which is "a game of adventure where some dice might be rolled to resolve some decisions or introduce some unexpected inspiration, loosely based on a game called D&D" And I think most long-term DMs play that game. It certainly seems to be the game you run based on what I've seen and read.

      So when I say I don't like the rules heaviness of what I've seen of 5e, the subtext isn't "why the hell aren't you playing 1e" but "what does a veteran DM find useful in going back to the book for new rules?"

      I understand the desire to find new inspiration for settings, characters, and monsters. But I'm surprised at you having any desire to throw your weight - as it were - behind a system. Especially when you say yourself that you don't want to get into the math wank.

      Which brings us back to Reynaldo's comment and it's implication that not fulfilling the design goals of that system is a bit edgy and might go horribly wrong by throwing it "out of whack".

      Isn't that just saying "the book says that this is bad gaming and therefore unfun", which is actually assuming that you are dumber than the game designer and know less about what is fun for your players than he does?

      I don't mind balance and suchlike as training wheels/guidelines. What winds me up is the apparently widespread idea that these training wheels should never be taken off and that a DM who does so is being a bastard by not setting up a coconut shy where paper-thin characters can knock down the requisite number of targets to take them through their levels to their inevitable Epic endgame and apotheosis. It's that determination to stick to the plan come-what-may that I think is really suffocating and the very fact that so many players are unwilling to shift means they'll never even get the chance to decide that they're right about what they like, let alone wrong.

      So when you posted a nice, interesting article about a monster modification and the very first comment was "oohh, look out for the DM police!" I was a bit sad and cross.

    8. "Reynaldo's comment and it's implication that not fulfilling the design goals of that system is a bit edgy and might go horribly wrong by throwing it "out of whack"."

      I think you missed Reynaldo's tone.

      He was describing what dumb optimizers think, not what he thinks. I know--I've played with Rey.

      As for 5e: I like it for a lot of reasons, one is that players almost always roll high on a d20 for their checks, which makes it easier for my newer players to wrap their heads around.

      I also like the save system, since it is lighter and easier to understand than the previous ones (saves are just ability checks, basically).

      You seem to have a lot of issues here unconnected to the actual conversation you're having now and words that are being typed about what people dumber than me or Rey think and I don't understand why you'd bother bringing them up. Their ideas are not important.

  2. Lots of good islamic poetry on Simurgh
    good read might be handy

    in glorantha peacock and flamingo people fight over who is true descendant of pheonix

  3. Zak, your girls -are- hardcore. Every last one of them. You are all totally metal.

  4. The first asociation I had with cranes and tigers was kung fu, but I guess that is basically the same thing as hip hop...
    Anyways, not sure if I like the tiger thing here. Maybe exploit the fact that the eggs are so important. Googling for egg eating animals led me to Avivores, via fanged frogs (definitely a D&D-able concept) to the Cat Ba Leopard Gecko; just google for images. That would be my basis for the Aarakocra enemy monster.
    Ah well, one could always resort to giant swamp snake monsters and build a cult around them, but that would be more or less expected, so a no-go.