Knights of the Old Republic EP2: Carth O-Nasty

By Shamus
on Aug 27, 2015
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

I can’t find it now, but somewhere in the depths of the blog archives I had a post making the case that traditional dice-based tabletop systems are actually a bad fit for action-oriented (not turn-based) videogames. That’s not to say you can’t make a good game from a tabletop ruleset, but that you can probably make something even better if you design for a videogame in the first place.

For one thing, the pacing is completely different. In a tabletop context, you roll the dice, what? Once a minute, if the fight is going smoothly and nobody at the table is dicking aroundSo, more than a minute always, then.? In a videogame you’ll have a combat round every couple of seconds or so. Those dice rolls that are so exciting with real dice are just background noise.

In a dice-based game, the designer wants to give you lots of little feats and perks and special abilities. Do a backflip to escape the fight! Grapple a foe! Throw dirt in someone’s eyes to lower their chance to hit! Spend a full round concentrating to try and break through their defenses! In a videogame, those all end up getting cut, because they’re expensive to animate. Also, your abilities hotbar would be enormous and complex. That’s fine if you’re taking turns, but completely impractical if you’re trying do do anything real-time.

At the table, your eyes are focused on the character sheet. You’re aware when those numbers go up or down and you can follow how they impact the game. Getting de-buffed by an enemy is a big deal and getting a combat bonus from an item feels tangible because you get to add that +1 every single time your turn comes around. If you roll a 12 and think you missed, but then remember the +1 hat you just put onA to-hit bonus on a hat? Just go with it., and that bonus turns your attack into a hit, then you immediately feel the benefit of that item. In a videogame, all that messy math is handled by the computer and your eyes are focused on the gameworld and not the numbers. You might not even notice you’ve been de-buffed unless you see the small icon in the corner, and even then you’re not really aware of how badly or for how long unless you pause the game and familiarize yourself with the stats. You won’t notice bonuses until they’re extreme enough that they end fights a couple of combat rounds sooner.

Videogames are way more combat heavy and light on roleplaying. It might be fun to cast your buffs on your party members at the start of the fight at the table, but in a game it ends up being something you have to cast again and again, turning it into a repetitive chore.

Basically, tabletop games and videogames are completely different ways of playing a game, with completely different needs, expectations, pacing, focus, strengths, interfaces, and which demand completely different things from the player. Any system tailored for one will be a frustrating compromise for the other. And that’s assuming you’re familiar with the rules. If you’re not a tabletop player, then these games are just gibberish. If you’ve never played D&D before, than you have no idea how significant a +1 bonus is.

On top of all this, KOTOR had the additional challenge of adapting a system designed for swords & sorcery to a world of blaster rifles and hand grenades. I think BioWare did an admirable job of making it work, but there are still a lot of messy seams.

I’m glad we moved away from these awkward adaptations. I can only imagine how intolerable Mass Effect would have been if they’d decided to build it on D&D 3.5, or GURPS.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] So, more than a minute always, then.

[2] A to-hit bonus on a hat? Just go with it.



A Hundred!A Hundred!2016236 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

  1. Cameron Sullivan says:

    Josh don’t bother trying to persuade the arena Hutt. Its an impossible skill check.

    • Supahewok says:

      Um, no its not. Its totally possible to persuade him to fork over more money, both before starting on your fighting career and after you win each match.

      • GloatingSwine says:

        It’s possible, but you need to be heavily invested in Persuade ranks and probably then even savescum it. It’s the hardest persuade check on Taris at least.

        • Thomas says:

          I don’t think their are dice rolls on the persuade checks in these games?

          • Thomas says:

            Oh no there are, and your persuade value is divided by your character level too.

            Is it still the same in KOTOR2? I guess I mentally edited it out of these games :(

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              I remember one of Obsidian’s games changed someone’s system from dice rolls to flat rank checks. Might just be thinking of Fallout New Vegas. And good thing about that game is they made failing skill checks part of the story too. Made them entertaining.

              Though I couldn’t blame Bioware for not thinking about that. D20 can be played with entertaining failures but the material written about it leans mostly towards telling you what you do if you succeed. If you success on a climb check, you climb the wall. If you fail, you’re stuck at the bottom still, you don’t accidentally climb a different wall or something (would be an interesting outcome for a Climb check now that I think of it.)

          • Raygereio says:

            Persuade checks do roll dice and success rate is based of your level and your persuade skill.
            The trick is basically to invest so heavily in the persuade skill, the dice roll doesn’t matter.

            For example at level 10 with a persuade skill of 8, you’d have a 50% chance of making a medium persuade check. With a persuade skill of 12, you’ll have a 100% chance.
            You can have a 0% chance of making the check with too low persuade skill, so save scumming or looping through dialogue isn’t that useful as a “cheat”.

      • Cameron Sullivan says:

        Later you can persuade him to give more money but the initial persuade option is impossible. People have tried it with hacked 99 persuade and it still doesn’t work.

  2. And yet…System Shock 2… Eh? Eh Shamus? :SEGrin: Honestly though, grafting tabletop systems onto a realtime 3d environment was pretty much the soup de jour of the early aught PC scene and it’s still considered the ‘Golden Age’ by many for pretty much that reason.

    Side note: What the hell is up with all the Sith? I thought it was just Master/Aprentice and now we got this jackhole acting like he in da club? Is there a wiki page I need to look up?

    • guy says:

      This is back before they decided to only have two at a time.

      We’ll be seeing examples of why they thought keeping the numbers low was a good idea later.

      • Spoiler: It still wasn’t a good idea, they just thought it was.

        • Supahewok says:

          I dunno, kept their organization alive for a few thousand more years and resulted in them actually ruling the whole galaxy for around 4 decades, more than any of their predecessors. ‘Til Anakin fucked it up, but as the prequels show he fucks up everything he touches, so that’s not exactly the Rule of 2’s fault.

          • They ruled for thousands of years by writer fiat, not because their system wasn’t stupid.

            • Matt Downie says:

              Yeah, realistically, what are the odds of the system surviving for centuries?

              Suppose Palpatine had won at the end of Jedi and Vader and Luke had died. He now has to somehow locate someone else who has force potential – Leia is the only one in the movies we know of – persuade her to join the Dark Side, and then train her up with all the knowledge of being a Sith Lord. He’s an old man and could easily die before accomplishing that. And yet the system demands that duels to the death happen all the time.

              And that assumes the two Sith aren’t both killed in the same exploding Death Star or whatever, ending the line instantly.

              • Supahewok says:

                Well… Palpatine cloned himself out the wazoo and used the Force to transfer his soul between his bodies. He came back a few years after he died on the Death Star.

                Yes, I know far too much about the EU.

              • SlothfulCobra says:

                It’s barely even ruling though. From the way that the senate works, not much ever really gets done that resembles governance. The member planets of the senate don’t necessarily get protection from attack, and there’s never really a depiction of federal, centralized, force being exerted by the senate upon all of its members. It seems more like a future-UN with access to the Jedi as a peace corps, and every so often they’ll cobble together an army if the Republic as a whole is being threatened.

                Of course, I don’t think that the governmental workings of the Republic are ever depicted outside of the prequels, and it’s a little hard to distinguish the senate’s incompetence at governance from Lucas’s incompetence in depicting governance. The politics were the most poorly executed part of the prequels.

              • Felblood says:

                The Bane Reformation won’t establish the Rule of Two until later. That’s half the reason that this story is set so long before the events of the movies.

                He specifically instituted it because everyone having half a dozen treacherous apprentices, who in turn had treacherous apprentices of their own quickly turned the entire Sith Empire into a betrayal cluster-F, as we will see in the Korriban level. By Bane’s philosophy, it was better to have the Sith constantly teetering on the brink of destruction. The hardship would not only force them to stick together, but also make them stronger. Bane was genre savvy enough to see the Inverse Ninja Effectiveness principal at work in these Dark Jedi mooks and decide he wanted no more of that.

                Also note that basically nobody plays the Rule of Two fairly. Count Dooku and the Emperor both keep a selection of “secret” apprentices, in case the need to betray and murder the other Sith Lord comes up, and someone new is needed for the Apprentice slot. Dooku, being only about hlf as smart as he thinks he is, does a really poor job of concealing them. He basically trains Grevious, Ventris and Savage all as Highly Visible Ninja, and then feigns surprise when Emperor Sideous reveals that he knew all along. Even Vader tries to make Luke into his apprentice, so they can join forces and kill the Emperor.

                • Richard H says:

                  Vader training Luke is pretty much how “only two there are” is supposed to work, AFAICT. It’s pretty much expected that, eventually, the apprentice betrays the master when he feels that the master is no longer useful. On the other hand, depending on how much you buy into the EU, there are the “hands”, which are basically not-apprentices.

                • Sleeping Dragon says:

                  Even assuming the current Sith population (the “master and apprentice”, the “secret apprentices”, clones, other Sith in hiding/presumed dead etc.) gets completely get wiped out, as is the case in Return of the Jedi, the galaxy is apparently chock full of force sensitives just waiting to fall prey to a force ghost or a Sith holocron.

                  Also, in this time period specifically a lot of people saying “a/the Sith” mean not just the force users but also people in their service, for example all the soldiers.

                  • Felblood says:

                    I basically already said my piece about how overloaded the word “Sith” has gotten down below, but it’s just so pertinent, that I’d like to point out that you can find the comment in question by searching this page for the words:

                    August 28, 2015 at 4:14 pm

                    That’s pretty much exactly what I would say here, too.

        • Chauzuvoy says:

          I think that the “only two at a time” rule isn’t bad, given that one of the founding principles of the Sith is murdering each other when the time comes. With more sith comes more opportunities for someone to murder the wrong person and set the whole organization into chaos, to say nothing of all the wasted effort that should have been directed towards plotting against and murdering other people.

          • Except that eventually leaves you with only two villains at most, assuming you somehow started from a larger pool. If the Sith org chart had a council of, say, 50 actual Sith Lords, then maybe having them get offed by their successor would make sense and allow for a kind of stability in their empire.

            But if it’s a free-for-all, you have the Sith not only fighting the Jedi but each other. Your Sith population never grows, and in fact, is being reduced from without. There’s no mechanism for increasing said numbers from within, so it’s already a self-defeating premise. This also doesn’t take into account Sith Lords who die without having any living apprentices.

            If the answer is “well, someone will eventually get seduced by the Dark Side and become a Sith,” that runs smack into what a Sith is: If it’s just a force-user who’s evil, anyone can be a Sith. If it requires training, and there are no other Lords around, then you’ll never get another Sith.

            My brain hurts trying to come up with a hand-wave for this, but it’s one of Lucas’ biggest blunders that really can’t be repaired and stick with the “rule of two” he and his people came up with.

            • Mormegil says:

              When I first heard the line in the movie I thought it was a reference to how the Jedi themselves train – there’s always a master and an apprentice so we know there has to be at least one more bad guy out there if they’re anything like us. Nope – it means there are always exactly 2 Sith. The dumbest and most literal way to interpret the line is the canonically correct one.

              • Same here. I took Yoda’s meaning that “you killed the apprentice, but there’s still a master out there somewhere.”

                I couldn’t believe what the canon said it meant. It just makes no freakin’ sense.

                • Wide And Nerdy says:

                  I thought it was supposed to be that the Dark Side consumes most with such passion that it leads to this kind of irrationally aggressive behavior. Jedi and Sith both are more strongly linked to the life force of the universe, and in fiction this is often portrayed as leading to excessive emotion (like with the greek pantheon). The Jedi practice a very careful discipline to maintain control of themselves. The Sith embrace it.

                  Thus one master can keep one apprentice under control but if there is a third, then there’s going to be jealousy fear and mistrust and someone is going to get killed.

                  • But someone is going to get killed anyway.

                    Heck, I could see having many apprentices so a Sith Lord could play them off each other while having more force-using toadies to do his bidding (allowing for the odd treachery).

                    I mean, here’s an example from the Old Republic video game: In the trailer cinematic that’s supposed to highlight the Bounty Hunter class, the Sith crash a transport ship into the Jedi Temple. Not-Darth-Vader comes off the transport and ignites his lightsaber. Immediately, a whole horde of red lightsabers flare up behind him. Who are all those people, then? Is it a load of Sith with their apprentices? Are they all apprentices? It makes sense if they are, in a kind of dark-mirror version of the Jedi Academy (and a lot of the EU has Sith training facilities that has more than one graduate), but if the Rule of Two was in effect… WTF?!

                    • Matt Downie says:

                      The Old Republic is before the rule-of-two.

                    • Yes, but given the choice of being able to have a squad of force-users vs. one dude at at a time, the advantage should seem obvious. Not to mention the mathematics actually work.

                    • Wide And Nerdy says:

                      I remind you that Phantom Menace came out in 1999, four years before this game. They state the “always two” thing there. Though I guess it wasn’t till later that the always two rule was clarified.

              • James says:

                I prefer the way SWTOR handles it, in training and organisation there is indeed a Master and an Apprentice, but there are also ranks. Darth being the highest non council member. then Lord and below that just apprentice,

                A Darth is much like a General they will probably have a couple Lords working with/for them as well as an Apprentice who is likely one of his favored Lords.

                A Lord is i suppose like a Colonel fairly powerful but ultimately subservient to the Darths they will probably have an Apprentice and a small following of servants.

                An Apprentice is basically the lowest rank above a student of the academy whilst still commanding respect and fear from non force users unless they are especially powerful or apprenticed to a notable lord they are basically nothing.

                The Council at least as far as SWTOR handled it are second only to the Emperor himself, they are considered the most powerful and strongest Sith in the galaxy, likely having lesser Darths and several lords at there behest.

                The infighting and backstabbing whilst common probably varies depending on the power of the Emperor and council and how much your willing to piss them off by sabotaging the empire with petty revenge or power struggles. like you might assassinate that pesky fellow lord, but you might piss of a council Darth and get yourself killed in the process.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      There is a webcomic where they spoof this with yoda is called on his “always two there are”,and starts going “Always 4 there are…Always 16 there are…Always 32 there are”.Though I forgot which one it is(probably legostar galactica).

    • There are several siths here. But so far, they’ve only found one sith in the force user term: the one in the Endar Spire We’ll see him again. These others are non force users, they’re siths as members of the Sith Empire. I may be misunderstanding and you’re talking about the whole game, though.

      • Syal says:

        You’ve also got to remember that Revan set this whole empire up, and we learn later that Revan was a Loose Cannon that Didn’t Play by the Rules, so all that ‘only Master and Apprentice’ stuff was something other people did.

        And then Malak killed him and took over, and was like “restructuring sounds like worrrrk“.

        • Supahewok says:

          Actually the whole Rule of 2 thing wasn’t conceived for a few thousand more years.

          Basically, this dude called Darth Bane noticed how every time the Sith rose to prominence and went to war, they always ended up defeating themselves with infighting and ambition. This revelation came after he was taken out of the running for Grand Poobah Sith by his rival. So he gives his rival a “weapon” called the “thought bomb,” which he says will only target those that its user wills. Eventually the Sith (minus Bane, who is watching from afar) are making a last stand against the Jedi. The unleashed the thought bomb, and turns out that its rather indiscriminatory. Thousands of Sith and Jedi combined die in a flash. That’s the “official” end of the Sith, as Bane goes underground to plot a more subtle galactic takeover, instituting the Rule of 2 as a means of succession for the plan. The loss of so many Jedi means that his disappearance isn’t noted, and its just assumed he perished with the rest.

          If I recall right, that all happened about a thousand years before the prequels, whereas KOTOR is taking place 4 thousand years before. If anyone’s played Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight or Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, the Valley of the Jedi is actually the place where the thought bomb went off and trapped all those spirits of Jedi and Sith, which is what gives the Valley its power.

          • I’m not sure that was such a brilliant strategy. The Sith went from a dysfunctional organization that could at least start the occasional empire and go to war to a dysfunctional setup for their own extinction with far less of a chance that anything of their way of life would survive in the long term.

            • Mike S. says:

              Well, it didn’t work, did it? The culmination of the plan was a renewed Sith-led Empire that lasted all of a couple of decades, followed (in the EU) by assorted smaller successor states that frequently weren’t even run by Sith. And narrowing the number down to two did nothing to prevent the Sith self-destructing through infighting, given that the sole Sith Galactic Emperor was tossed down a shaft by the only other active Sith.

              But, hey, it was a plan.

              • Felblood says:

                Is it supposed to work; I mean really?

                Even more so in the original trilogy, Star Wars runs on a karma system. Despite all the rules and traditions they have to prevent this, channeling the Dark Side corrupts a Sith into a self-defeating madman, and he’s destined to destroy everything he ever fought for.

                The Rule of Two was a surprisingly good tool for making sure that the Sith kept their extra apprentices out of sight, and thus kept the Sith Order off of the Jedi’s radar, but in the end it did not help the Sith overcome the intrinsically self-destructive nature of their philosophy.

    • Felblood says:

      You’re opening a big can of worms here bro, but don’t fret, most of the questions you’re asking will be answered here in KOTOR, or in KOTOR II.

      To sum it up, the word “Sith” is dangerously overloaded.

      A given character might use it to refer to any one of the following (–or more, sometimes simultaneously, just for extra confusion):
      * A species (the Sith and Massasi races both consider themselves Sith)
      * A country (few of whom recognize one another claim to the name)
      * A religious order (again, few of them consider the others to be “true” Sith. See Darth Treya badmouthing Revan and Malak as impostors in KotOR2)
      * A force using member of one of those organizations
      * A high-ranking, force-using member
      * Any force user whose philosophy leans too far toward the dark side for the speaker’s tastes(Many Jedi factions, notably those who say “Only a Sith deals in absolutes” or such ideas).

  3. wswordsmen says:

    Are you talking about each person rolling a die (so persons A B and C would roll dice once a minute) or is it dice get rolled once a minute (persons A B and C would roll the dice once every 3 minutes each) because if it is the latter I think you are being way too slow for a best case scenario.

  4. Warrax the Chaos Warrior says:

    Whoa, wait a second. Since when did Star Wars have space racism?? Is this some EU thing I didn’t know about?

    That was one of the things I always liked about Star Wars, the fact that humans were “just another alien race” and there wasn’t any kind of us/them thing going on. Like, where is the human homeworld even at? Sure they seem really numerous, but I always figured that was mostly a makeup-budget thing.

    • Orillion says:

      Not just EU, the Empire was super racist in the original trilogy. Maybe it was shoved in the back a little bit, but you don’t have to be perceptive to notice there aren’t any non-humans on the Empire’s payroll at all, unless you count that worthless contracted Mandalorian.

      • Warrax the Chaos Warrior says:

        That’s a good point, it certainly fits with the vague empire/nazi thing. But the fact that they never did anything with it means that it never really overrode my perception that everyone was an alien and no one species was “default” or separate.

        Of course I was probably only six or seven years old the first time I saw Star Wars on VHS in the eighties. Has my perception been way off this whole time, or did anyone else around here see it that way too?

        • guy says:

          They had lots of aliens everywhere except in Imperial ships and bases.

          • And even then it’s pretty much men only, no girls allowed. It’s so weird to see places like the Death Star or Star Destroyers without any women on board apart from Princess Leia.

            • Supahewok says:

              That’s actually a pertinent point in the EU; any women who attained a high rank in the Empire’s hierarchy had to be either exceptionally skilled or exceptionally ruthless. Plays into their character some.

              • Except I’m not even talking rank. I’m just talking “person who works on the Death Star.” If it was just “you have to be a dude to attain rank,” then that could fit with the evil aspect of the Empire, but to not have anyone but dudes at all levels of service looks very strange once you notice it. Even just an odd female bridge officer to let Admiral Piett know that he’s going to be force-choked over a TV screen would’ve been enough to offset the strangeness of the whole setup.

                • Mike S. says:

                  It might just have been default assumptions. Women mostly didn’t serve on combat ships in historical navies or as combat pilots in air forces till quite recently (for the US, both postdate “Star Wars”), and so weren’t generally represented in war movies. Women not appearing in a military setting seeming at all odd (especially a fighting ship) is a fairly new phenomenon.

                  Obviously that was something that could and did change in an SF setting. Heinlein had women commanding space navy ships in Starship Troopers (1959) and as close-combat infantry in Tunnel in the Sky (1955), and Trek had women on the bridge in the 60s (albeit in traditional support roles, except for the pilot episode with Number One). But there were also plenty of all-male armies in SF throughout the period.

                  (And other institutions. There are no female Sandmen in “Logan’s Run”, try to count the women with lines in “2001: A Space Odyssey”, etc..)

                  Where a modern media SF military would include women as a matter of course, in the 70s it’s something that would have demanded actively thinking about it. Lucas may simply have not, rather than intentionally using it as a distinguishing characteristic.

                  (Though it may have become one later, as we get Mon Mothma, assorted female Jedi on the Republic/Rebel side, etc. without, as far as I recall, many more women on the Empire/Sith side.)

                  • INH5 says:

                    Also, if we’re going by the Empire/Nazi connection, it’s worth noting that the Nazis were very big on “women should stay in the kitchen.” Even when they were facing serious personnel shortages towards the end of the war they only recruited women into the Wehrmact in limited numbers, and then almost exclusively in administrative and support roles.

                    • This is where we note that there were no female fighter pilots in the first Death Star run. Were there any women on Yavin?

                      Princess Leia is starting to look more and more like the Star Wars version of Smurfette.

                    • Mike S. says:

                      Leia’s a lift from/homage to the princess from “The Hidden Fortress”, who likewise was a royal outside the direct chain of command in an otherwise all-male military environment. Plus maybe a bit of Dale Arden.

                      If either samurai movies or Flash Gordon had featured sex-integrated militaries, maybe Lucas would have thought of having one in 1977. (The Buck Rogers serial did have Wilma Deering as a Lieutenant, but like Leia she was the only woman seen in the organization.)

              • Humanoid says:

                Then Regina Cuftbert will get far.

      • Like was mentioned, that seems more like a budget thing. They didn’t show any non-humes in the rebellion until the third movie. The only explicitly discriminating moments in the original that I can recall were towards synthetics.

        • Soylent Dave says:

          There’s Chewbacca in the first film – and the Imperials do refer to him as ‘it’, which could be taken as space racism.

          But yeah, aside from that it all comes into play in Jedi, really – although in that it becomes quite a strong implication: the Empire is still *all* human, while the Rebellion is a mix of species, including alien leaders.

          (I’d imagine it’s that imagery – which is quite strong in places, the mixed alien and human fleet, led by Ackbar, fighting against the Nazi-themed all-human Empire – that the EU authors took and ran with)

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            But there’s always hope. The brilliant alien Grand Admiral Thrawn . . . was finally done in by a more powerful adversary.

            Disney.

            If I were the head of Disney, I’d want them to portray the Empire as a good thing with theme parks and colorful animals and all that, or people will start getting ideas ;)

      • Soylent Dave says:

        Mandalorians are human…

        (or at least the only one we see in the films is (two if you count his clone dad)) /nerd

    • ehlijen says:

      It is much more prominent in the EU, but the fact that all we see of the Empire is white males could be design as much as budget related. Given the obvious nazi connotations, I don’t think it was entirely by accident, though. It is undermined by the rebellion not being portrayed differently in IV and V, though, and that was a missed opportunity.

      That said, there are only two definitive moments of speciesism in star wars that I recall: chewie not getting a medal (not the empire’s fault, though) and the bridge officer mumbling ‘bounty hunters, we don’t need that scum’ after being growled at by a lizardman (though that could just as easily be classism). So, I understand that not everyone would assume the empire was racist.

      But really, with that many nazi references (the entire deathstar trench run idea was based on the british dam buster raids on Germany in WW2 for example), the racism is pretty much implied.

    • There was also only one non-white character in the original trilogy, correct? Maybe humans like Lando were too busy being awesome in other parts of the galaxy?

      The prequels tried to add more variety, but the way Mace Windu died was stupid, and being Amidala’s “head of security” or whatever isn’t exactly a prime title for Gregar Typho. Not to mention as part of his job, he had to have been aware of what she was getting up to with Anakin, which would’ve made the job totally not worth it without nausea medication.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      One problem is that the Empire is designed to project a sense of uniformity and control, a generic mass of evil that needs to be fought, having Wookie and Twi’lek stormtroopers in their own armour moulds goes against that narrative.

      • krellen says:

        I always assumed the “Clone Wars” referenced the Stormtroopers (as bad guys) and Leia’s “aren’t you a little short for a storm trooper” line to indicate that Troopers were still clones. That’s why they were all the same.

        • Supahewok says:

          Some stormtroopers are clones, but after Kamino tried to rebel with their own brand of Fett clones a few years into the Empire the Emprah felt the need to diversify his clone portfolio, leading to many different templates. He also opens up enlistment to any human males, so there’s plenty of non-clones too.

  5. Samyo says:

    I was practically screaming at the screen that there was an option to say “fuck you I want the money” with that woman, it was the first option in that dialogue.

    • Cinebeast says:

      Except not really. The option is “She sliced that guy up, she’s getting what she deserves,” which is an attempt at moral justification for an immoral act. That might sound pedantic, but there’s quite a difference between that and “I just want the money.”

      You can’t just kill the woman and collect the bounty out of a desire for coin — you can only try to take a misguided moral high ground.

      • Syal says:

        Some companions don’t let you take some options when they’re in the party. If you leave Carth in the Interdimensional Zone of Holding I think that conversation stops at “I just want the money”.

        • Thomas says:

          It’s not stopping you, but characters can interject and give you further options or a chance not to do it. I guess the reason you give an explanation is so Carth stays in the party? Like he asks for a justification and you give him at least a lame one for him to cling on to?

          • Syal says:

            There’s at least one option where they stop you completely.

          • Felblood says:

            To kill the woman with Carth in the party, you can’t JUST say “I want the bounty; you die, now!” you have to make lame excuses Carth first, which sucks a lot of the fun out of it.

            The game is a bit over-charitable about assuming that your character values the opinions of their party members, even if they are a dick to everyone else.

  6. Orillion says:

    I feel like Star Wars is just one of the worst possible settings to try to adapt D20 for. You’re inevitably going to end up with Dexterity as a god stat, only more so, and things like Strength become completely irrelevant for everyone. It’s slightly, slightly less extreme using the Old Republic setting because of vibroblades, but still insane how much you’ll find yourself mindlessly upping your characters’ Dexterity every four levels or whatever it is.

    Basically the only exceptions are Bao-Dur and Kreia in KOTOR 2, who prefer Strength and Wisdom, respectively.

    Though, man, for funsies it is great to make an unarmed Jedi in KOTOR 2. Pity there wasn’t just a little bit more gear and feats to make it work on par with sabers.

    • ehlijen says:

      KOTOR2 was even more easily broken, at least for male counsellors (aka wizards). The handmaiden can teach you how to use WIS for defence (on top of dex), so you’ve got defence, force power attack and mana points out the wazoo from one stat (and what’s more WIS is the only stat you can put a stacking booster into every inventory slot for). WIS scores of 40 are easily feasible, even without the infinite XP bug.

      But yes, DEX being the stat king is a problem of every game that uses it both for hitting and defending. The White Wolf games (now Onyx Path) have the same issue in Exalted and Scion, for example.

      As a counter example, I believe the SPECIAL system avoids that because it separates attack (PE) and defence (AG). Basically, the more things a single stat can do in a given role, the less variance you’re going to see in characters.

      • Humanoid says:

        But then you stack Agility anyway because action points.

        • ehlijen says:

          True, but all the stats were pretty important, there wasn’t one that dwarfed the others. Lower DEX games were still viable.

          • RCN says:

            My favorite build was a high luck, high perception play.

            Take finesse, stack those crits. Sure, whenever you DON’T crit you’re doing pitiful damage, but it was fairly easy to get scary high amounts of crit so that you’re pretty much always getting crits, and in Fallout 1 and 2 crits were so very powerful.

            They were basically the way to get status ailments or crowd control. Burst the arm of that guy with a heavy weapon, break the legs of these melee threats, knock-down one or two enemies when surrounded to make easier management of threats. The system for crits in Fallout 1 and 2 was very deep and satisfying to use. It was a shame that it was basically useless in 3/NV (well, you could do ridiculous amounts of damage, there’s no denying that, but you can’t make TACTICAL use of them anymore, just killing your enemies is easier than breaking their arms and breaking their arms has barely any real effect on their combat skill).

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh man,dual wielding stuff.Is there a game,either video or pen and paper one,where dual wielding is not the preferable fighting option?Its just so ridiculous how effective having two weapons is.

    • cassander says:

      IIRC, in the various manifestations of 3rd edition D&D, 2 handed weapons out damage dual wielding.

    • Mormegil says:

      Not sure how it panned out with future expansions but I remember a bunch of people did the math on DnD 3.5 and a fighter is more effective with a greatsword and power attacking than he is with a longsword and a shortsword.

      The interesting contrast to dual wielding in games is real life where it’s comparatively rare and usually based around using the second weapon defensively (e.g. main gauche). Even Miyamoto Musashi who sword nerds point to as the master of dual wielding advocated it purely as a training method to build strength or for fighting multiple opponents – he himself was never recorded as using 2 swords in a duel or in battle.

      • ehlijen says:

        Yup, Power attack was the cincher, granting double the bonus for 2 handed weapons and no bonus at all to the kinds of weapons that could make feasible off hand weapons.

        And historically, dual wielding was meant to offer greater flexibility than a single weapon. Light blade and light mace meant you’d always have something effective no matter what the enemy was wearing. Something hooked in the off hand let you trap blades better or pull shields out of your way. A net let you entangle your opponent for better stabbing with a trident. That sort of stuff.
        For defence, an actual shield was usually better.

        Meanwhile in games, you’re often rewarded for using the same weapon twice, usually through some sort of specialisation bonus.

      • Ivan says:

        This channle was linked before (I think during Marlo Briggs about battle scyths) but it is once again relevant.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJBEDxh0RQw

        Basically the highlights are,

        1. dual wielding is historically very uncommon
        2. why wield 2 weapons when you can have a weapon and a shield?
        3. why wield 2 weapons when you could just 2 hand one and put so much more power behind it +extra reach which is super important irl where inches make a huge difference
        4. dual wielding does not allow you to attack more rapidly or effectively (if you are putting your entire body into your attack you will strike with a great deal more power than if you are only swinging your arm, and your other arm will not be in a position to make an effective follow up attack(without moving your entire body at which point you’re no faster than if you were only using one weapon))

        Basically dual wielding is common in games because of the rule of cool and it’s probably so cool because it is historically uncommon and possibly because of how stupid it actually is (as in, “oh, look how skilled this dude is that he can wield two weapons at once, he doesn’t need a shield he can just kill all day every day, best form of defense ans all that.”).

        • It could be argued that your light saber is both your weapon AND your shield, so having one just for blocking could make sense. Also, “The Force” is supposedly guiding one’s moves, so I find it really hard to work actual technique into the Star Wars universe.

          By the way, didn’t some form of Japanese sword fighting make use of the scabbard as a kind of blocking device?

          • Ivan says:

            True, in Star Wars a Jedi does not need a shield to block projectiles because they’re so awesome that they can do that with their sword, but I don’t know of a single system where wielding two weapons gives you any sort of defensive advantage. I might be wrong because I’ve never had a look at the guts of KotOR but I believe that dual wielding only affects your offensive ability.

            I don’t know about the Samuri but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that sometimes they would use the scabbard defensively. The Japanese certainly weren’t known to carry shields. The video I linked also talks about using your secondary weapon defensively and I think the main point is that if you were to wield two weapons this is what you would do. Wielding two weapons would generally be less effective (offensively) than wielding one weapon two handed and a shield would still be preferable for defense.

            That said, I think there are exceptions to be made for Jedi, who do not carry shields and wield a weapon so light that 2 handing it is rarely necessary. They also generally only engage in duels and not huge pitch battles with other Jedi (or Sith) and a second light saber might actually give them a tactical edge in a duel.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Jedi are justified in it,because they are superhuman,and you dont really need much strength to hack something off with a lightsaber.But carth?Mission?Why would having two weapons benefit them in any way?

              Or in other games,why would dual wielding benefit anyone over weapon+shield?

              • At a guess? Crit-stacking. If you can get your shots in early and have them pay off nearly all of the time, then you don’t need much defense. You just get hosed if you miss.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Thats why the player would want them to have two weapons,and is actually a viable thing to do.What Im talking about here,from my first post about this,is for the in universe explanations for this ridiculous behavior.

              • Alex says:

                Two different guns with two different firing vectors makes it harder for a Jedi or Sith to place their lightsaber where it can deflect all the shots you are firing at them.

                • Or they could be like that Twi’lek Jedi in Episode III, who I’m pretty sure started to fall over dead a split second before the clone troopers even pulled a trigger.

                  Maybe she foresaw her death and figured, “Oh, well. Down I go…”

          • hborrgg says:

            That’s generally how duel wielding or sword and dagger would work in real life, either you use one weapon as your “shield” or you parry with your main weapon then catch it with your dagger before counter attacking.

            To be fair, I guess duel wielding lightsabers makes more sense than the double-bladed lightsabers do. Although I really didn’t like the look of either so I went through both games with a single, one-handed sword.

            • RCN says:

              It is believed dual wielding with a dagger was done using both a dagger and a buckler on the off-hand, so that you can directly protect your flank with the buckler but if there’s an opening you can either hook a weapon/shield or stab with the dagger.

              I’m pretty sure Lindy Beige has a video about it.

        • SlothfulCobra says:

          It’s important to remember that DnD wasn’t really designed by people who knew that much about warfare (although even if they did, it’s not like military doctrine ever focused around small squads of around 4 people). It was designed by a bunch of people who just sat around a room thinking about how to emulate pulpy adventure stories.

          So you have your half-naked dual-wielding warriors just as much as you have wizards and dwarves and entire species of stupid mooks.

          • The people who designed D&D came from designing the tabletop miniature game “Chainmail.” Two major factors contribute to “unrealistic” rules governing combat:

            1. It’s fantasy. Magic doesn’t really exist and every player is their own flavor of King Arthur, so for the point of the game, look to epic tales rather than physics for how fight outcomes go.

            2. It’s shorthand. “I hit him with my sword” says nothing about technique, and it needs to be simplified or combat takes even longer than it already does. You start with stats and then you pile on bonuses. Eventually, it makes no sense, resulting in some of the more famous exploits and theoretical effects (i.e. the “Bag of Rats” fighter with Whirlwind Attack and Advanced Cleave feats, or the Peasant Rail Gun).

            Basically, if one craves real-world combat, one is advised to go join the SCA, because no manageable ruleset will realistically simulate combat to the satisfaction of people like Lindybeige.

            • Ivan says:

              “Basically, if one craves real-world combat, one is advised to go join the SCA, because no manageable ruleset will realistically simulate combat to the satisfaction of people like Lindybeige.”

              I don’t think that’s quite fair. Obviously perfect simulation is completely absurd and even attempting it would get you a game far too complicated and unwieldy to even understand, let alone play. But that doesn’t change the fact that the “Bag of Rats” fighter, or the Peasant Rail Gun involve a bunch of rules lawyering and general munchkining. These are obvious examples of where the rules break and places where the DM should step in to rule that these things weren’t intended to work this way, unless of-course you’re playing a game where this sort of munchkining is encouraged because it’s fun as hell to play with obviously broken shit now and then.

              I guess I’m mostly just mad that dual wielding is often considered more effective than 2h or sword and shield. I mean if you wanted to play a character who wields a single weapon it feels like you’re gimping yourself. (this isn’t really a complaint about D&D which I haven’t played enough of to comment on, but how most video games treat dual wielding. Mostly though i’m complaining about how the shield so often gets the short end of the stick when it really is VERY good at keeping you alive, although it is very effective in the Souls games and in Monster Hunter)

              • RCN says:

                Add Might & Magic X to games where shields are good.

                In it Shields can block up to 3 attacks every turn. And a class that is good with shields can even block ranged attacks aimed at their allies. Shields are INCREDIBLY effective, defensively, and increasing shield skill has that weird increasingly effective vibe as each point gets you nearer that 100% chance of block (there should be some diminishing returns there, I admit).

                Some previous Might & Magic games (well, by previous I mean VI-VIII, not I-V) shield could also have its uses since skill and mastery would grant a ridiculously high multiplier for Armor Class. Too bad that from around the last third of these games you stop finding enemies that actually perform physical attacks and resistances are the only thing that matters.

                Not to say that these games don’t sport dual wielding as well. In VI-VIII dual wielding is ridiculously powerful. You don’t attack more often, but you add the damage AND attack bonuses of your off-hand weapon to your attack. In X shields are very, very powerful but some off-hand weapons are also no slouches, with Daggers getting lots of attacks per turn (which can receive large multipliers with bonus elemental damage). Dual wielding also grants some minor defensive skill (you get a block, like if you had a shield, but it is only one and you can’t increase the chance to block, also it doesn’t work against ranged attacks). But enemies are usually dangerous enough that a guy dual-wielding is usually the first to bite it, even before the caster.

            • Felblood says:

              I don’t think that’s fair to a lot of the other rules system out there.

              Sure any abstraction will always open the door for people wh are looking to read stupid BS between the lines. The Peasant Railgun is a particularly good example of this, as it requires an absolutely rigid interpretation of certain rules, beyond the limits of reason, but still insists on simulating physics effects outside the scope of the rules, in order to make an attack that is never, ever defined by the rules. It’s obvious insanity and anyone who allows it at their table is a hack.

              That said, DnD is rife with a lot of hinky issues regarding scalability and conservation of detail.

              Chainmail was a mass combat system for entire armies, who weren’t doing much besides various flavors of violence. It was critical that individual units actions be resolved quickly, and there was little need for rules about non-combat things.

              So, when the rules were adapted for a game focused on a small squad of special characters, who we were intended to get a more detailed impression of and whose lives we followed outside of combat, some weird seams started to show.

              Rules for mass combat aren’t suited to small encounters with flavorful characters.

              In some ways they are needlessly complex. Figuring up the number you need to roll on a die to hit various defense values in advance makes sense when you need to roll 12 dice and quickly pull off the ones that had no effect. It isn’t useful when you can just roll one die, add your bonus and compare the value to the target’s defense score.

              In other ways they are not complicated enough. The most visually appealing parts of an adventure story would usually be fighting, but actually these are abstracted to the point of being flavorless. A player can invest a 6 second turn trying to hit another character with their sword, hit 3 times, and receive no information with any narrative weight. “You scored three hits and deal, 8, 7 and 10 damage for a total of 25 points. Your other two attacks had no effect, for some reason that isn’t important. Good job! Larry, isn’t it your turn next?”

              Attempts to fix this problem without actually gutting the underlying mechanism, generally only make the problem worse. Attacks deal abstracted HP damage, and then sometimes you get an extra effect like a bleeding wound that requires bandaging or a character is knocked down. That just underscores how abstract and silly the rest of the combat is. If Larry’s character is the only one whose weapons cause bleeding effects, does that mean that when I hit a guy 7 times with a greatsword, and he dies from it, he doesn’t bleed?

              Plus this creates a situation where the least important parts of each scene are afforded the most detail, and vice versa. HP and healing are things where you’d want to have a clear idea of how badly you are hurt, but some HP losses and gains are due entirely to morale effects. If I am wounded and a Warlord inspires we to ignore the wound, does it just… go away? If a fear effect casues me psychic damage,and then a Cleric heals me, how does that work?

              –But you can spend several minutes reading up on rules on tying various types of trick knots. That’s a cool idea, but how many players ever thought to actually use those?

              Spells are a particularly problematic area, because you have classic spells that deal abstracted HP damage, or straight-up make people dead, and then you have newer spells with page long descriptions of how they work and what they look like. These consume the same resources to use, but the most interesting ones are generally the least useful ones.

              If the basic HP and AC mechanics had more meat on their bones, we wouldn’t go through this same cycle every edition, where people feel like they need to add more meat on a case-by-case basis, with loads of Feats, Abilities, Class Features, Special Qualities and Powers. The added complexity to normal attacks would be worth it, if their were more ways to customize them within that framework.

              I’ve got a lot of ideas on ways t do that, but that’s probably beyond the scope of his post.

              • Cinebeast says:

                Just wanted to let you know that I read this whole thing. Never really thought of the system as inherently oversimplified. Thanks for writing this.

              • Brian says:

                Regarding complexity, it’s especially worth doing a compare and contrast with the mechanisms (and paradigms, in the true Kuhnian sense) found in Ars Magica.

                And with HP/AC, compare and contrast GURPS *and* Aces and Eights (and, for that matter, Dogs in the Vineyard). All three have profoundly different philosophies on simulation or narrative and the impact of choices therein.

        • ehlijen says:

          There are also staves and shorter polearms, that allowed for a sort of two weapon fighting style (ie fighting with both ends of the same weapon). Doing so effectively generally required more skills than the kind of conscript that had to fight with just a staff or spear would get, though.

          Another important point is that the mobility required to use two weapons doesn’t mesh well with formation combat, which is how most organised militaries operated from Greece until guns became just too deadly to keep doing that.

          The Net+Trident gladiators were probably the most established two weapon fighters, historically speaking, and that style was designed for show, not war.

      • Micamo says:

        Two-handed weapons + power attack IS better… in general. Two-weapon fighting wins out though if you have a large enough source of rider damage that applies to each attack, like if you have a Bard with Dragonfire Inspiration in your party.

    • Orillion says:

      Daggerfall. You could only use one of the weapons at a time anyway, and holding a second weapon meant you didn’t get a shield, just the ability to quickly switch weapons mid-combat. Which, to be fair, could be handy if you had a good weapon in a mundane material and the ebony dagger for killing imps and stuff.

    • Humanoid says:

      In most shooters I imagine it’s usually better to wield one assault rifle or equivalent weapon compared to dual-wielding pistols or SMGs? I haven’t played any recent shooters so I don’t know if that’s still a thing. And then again, SMGs tend to suck regardless.

      The crew talked a bit during the Skyrim season about the issue but I don’t recall if there was any firm statement on which approach was objectively better.

      In WoW, the argument is not single-wielding vs dual-wielding, no, nothing as mundane as that. It’s dual-wielding two single-handed weapons vs dual-wielding two two-handed weapons.

      Aside, I really liked how in Divinity Original Sin, if you had an ’empty’ offhand, you’re simply attack twice with your main weapon. Equip a shield and you’d only attack once.

    • Viktor says:

      D&D 3.x, 2-handed fighting is better in almost every respect than 2-weapon, with the only exception being specific Rogue builds. You get FAR more damage, more effective combat actions(trip etc), you aren’t splitting wealth between 2 very expensive weapons, you aren’t investing in 4+feats just to use your weapons, if you move/charge/attack of opportunity you only get 1 attack so 2 weapon is pointless then, and I’m probably forgetting other stuff. (Also don’t use a shield. AC is almost pointless against most foes unless you really invest heavily in it. If you DO invest heavily in AC, get an animated shield and wield a greatsword anyway.)

      Dragon Age:Origin, the order goes Sword&Board>2 Handed>2 Weapon for fighters, since tankiness is more important than damage.

      Skyrim I’d say 2 weapon is pointless most of the time since a shield or spell in your offhand is so useful, but that game is broken in literally every style, so the difference is fairly irrelevant.

    • Endymion says:

      Well in Dominions 3 and 4, the buffs that various magical shields provide and the immense value of not dying greatly lowered the use of having your super-combatants dual-wield weapons. Unless, of course, they had 4 hands. Or if you had access to one of the magical ways to give them a third hand. There was also the downside in the combat rules that all of the targets for a set of attacks had to be in the same square, so if the splash damage off of a firebrand killed off all 3 mooks in one square, the second weapon would do nothing that turn.

      I really think the shield thing is the solution to dual-wielding. Buff shields with awesome magical effects until people want them more than the second weapon. Shields that permanently remove an eye from anyone who tries to attack you, shields that burn attackers, shields that curse people to wither and die of old age in barely a minute.

      • Nidokoenig says:

        Surely you then get dual-shielding, or even quad-shielding for four-handers? After all, shield-bash attacks or kicking things to death are cool enough without stacking shield buffs.

        • guy says:

          You do! However, Dominions magical weapons aren’t exactly weak themselves. The most basic supercombatant weapon is the brand series, which deal substantial splash damage and can clean out several enemies at once.

    • Bryan says:

      Two Worlds, which I just got done playing. You can dual-wield two one-handed weapons, but your attack rate is (slightly) less than half the attack rate of not dual-wielding, so it’s not worth it; just pick the better of the two and do slightly more damage by hitting twice as often.

    • Chauzuvoy says:

      In Pathfinder (and I think D&D 3.5 as well) dual-wielding isn’t actually very good, with a few exceptions. You get a big damage bonus from wielding something in two hands, and don’t take the penalties to hit that you do when dual-wielding. And you don’t have to use as many feats to be effective. So dual-wielding only becomes effective if you’re a rogue or something that gets significant bonuses to damage on each hit.

      The big problem in KoTOR is that there’s nothing else to use your off-hand for. If you’re not carrying another weapon, you’re either using a 2-handed weapon (which doesn’t have any bonuses associated, and makes you lose out on possible lightsaber upgrades) or just having an empty hand. Which certainly has that classic flavor, but gives you no mechanical benefit. You can’t use a shield or something to boost your defenses, and you don’t need a hand free in order to use medkits or grenades or things.

      • ehlijen says:

        Using a two handed weapon in KOTOR does give you more damage from STR (though if you’ve been boosting that you’ve been neglecting DEX, you fool). Using a double sabre is actually preferable if you want to deal damage, as the off side blade deals more damage than a short lightsabre but still counts as light for attack penalty purposes (and it means you can apply the best damage bonus from any crystals to both ends).

        Counsellors are better off with two lightsabres as that allows for more stat/force power boosting upgrade slots.

        But you forgot one thing: there is a feat tree that gives attack and defence boosts if you’re leaving the off hand empty (Mission starts with some of those). It’s a terrible feat tree, though, as the advantages it offers are negligible at best.

        • Felblood says:

          Note that this is only really true if you are short on crystals and not using Critical Strike.

          If you have a pair of Nextor crystals (Keen AND +1 to hit) and at least one Opila crystal (+2d6 damage on a crit) then the better crit range is totally worth losing a few points off your average base damage (2d10 twice or 2D8 and 2d6).

          You’ll be doing enough damage that you can afford to put a Jenraux crystal in your Short Saber, which will make a good Jedi completely immune to blaster weapons. If your deflection is really bad, you can equip two and get +10 to Blaster deflection checks.

          Counter Note: Darth Bandon’s Double saber is an exception as it gets very different bonuses from crystals. While many of them are objectively worse, there are a few combos that are completely OP. The downside is that Bandon’s Saber, is easy to miss. You must fight him on Manaan, so it has to be the third star map you collect. It looks like any other double saber at first glance, but it won’t stack in your inventory, even when unequipped. I’m not even sure if being able to get it is an Easter egg, or just a bug.

  8. SlothfulCobra says:

    Carth is really whiny, but he seems worlds manlier than Kaidan in Mass Effect.

    • Gruhunchously says:

      All this Kaidan stuff’s just been reminding me that I kinda missed Carth. I mean, he was whiny but at least he had a consistent personality and said stuff from time to time.

    • Thomas says:

      I don’t know, I didn’t think Carth felt manly at all. He’s so impotent both with his whining and his complete lack of assertiveness and I think it gets worse the more you hang out with him, Kaiden gets more assertive as the games go on – ish.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ugh,what is it with video games introducing these nonsensical gambling games?Neither of them works well,and are easily exploitable.Especially the ones that involve collecting game pieces.

    Instead,why dont they use just the gambling games we already have?Like poker.

    Although,to be fair,these games are not nearly as infuriating as the races.What is it with rpgs and races?Thats the worst combination anyone couldve thought of.

    • Aldowyn says:

      I always enjoyed the races, when they weren’t completely glitching out because of compatibility issues. Doesn’t hurt that they’re not that hard and give a fair amount of money. You can always ignore them. *shrug*

      • John says:

        I thought I was hot stuff after the race on Taris, but the track on Tatooine kicked my ass. Then I realized that that the Taris race has to be extra-easy because it’s mandatory. So I guess that the swoop gangs of Taris are just really, really bad at swoop racing.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Thats also one other interesting point:If you want to introduce players to a new mechanic by making mandatory and easy,dont hype it as a super-duper-extra-special-awesome-tournament-of-awesomeness-to-the-max!

    • Veylon says:

      The problem you run into with real games is that only some people play them. Maybe you know the rules to poker, but what if it’s Pinochle, Basra, 41, or Belote? To some people poker is as foreign as those games.

      • guy says:

        I once decided to clean out the NV casinos with a ten-luck character and midway through playing the blackjack tables I discovered that I had a very poor grasp on the rules of blackjack.

        Cleaned them all out anyway.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        If you decide to include poker in your game,and you realize that not everyone is familiar with it,the solution is to:
        a)Have optional explanations to it in the game for those who dont know about it or
        b)Ditch the idea completely.
        Your solution should never be to:
        c)Invent a poker substitute that is overly complicated and that you will have to explain to everyone and that will probably be easy to break completely.

        I mean,imagine this conversation:
        – We should add craps as a minigame.
        – Yeah,but not everyone knows how craps works.So we will introduce a NEW dice game,called sparc.Here is how it works:Each player throws 3 dice,and then one who guesses the outcome,or is closest to it wins.Unless you throw 3,4,5,in which case you win by default.However,if its full moon,you have to throw 1,2,6.However,if while throwing you flick one of the dice under the wrist of your other hand,that dice counts as double.Except in early morning when its only half,or in exactly 13 minutes past noon when it is quadruple.But if you flick all three dice under the wrist,your opponent has to sing gangam style,or they lose automatically,which you get to counter bu covering your eyes with your index fingers and going “CAW!CAW!”.However,if your opponent crosses their fingers behind their back when you do that it doesnt count.Also
        .
        .
        .

        • You’re overlooking the other part of this. “Craps” is a game anyone can publish. “Sparc” can be trademarked.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Was pazaak ever released outside the kotor games?Or that awful new vegas card game?Or gwent?

            • Humanoid says:

              I think Arcomage from Might and Magic 7 was later released as a standalone product.

            • “Or that New Vegas card game?”

              You got a Caravan deck with one of the preorder packs. In-game it was completely optional.

              New Vegas also had these games called “Poker” and “Blackjack.”

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Yes,in casinos.And with far less attention to them than caravan,which was astoundingly easy to win 100% of the time.

                And preorder loot is not really outside the game,since you get it along with the game.

                • guy says:

                  I never did figure out the rules to Caravan. I read the rules description several times and half the time I lost a hand and did not understand why.

                  I also vaguely recall being confused by some aspect of Pazaak’s drawing rules and losing hands because of it. I think you can automatically lose under some condition once there are nine cards on someone’s table?

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Caravan is basically you and your opponent playing blackjack on 3 parallel tables,but with each one choosing their decks,and their starting hands.

                    The winning strategy is basically to fill your deck with only 7s,9s and 10s.This way,you can build all three caravans up to 26 pretty easily.For fun,you can add a bunch of jacks and kings to screw up with your opponent,but its not essential.What is essential is that you should always make sure to start with a hand of 3 10s,2 or 3 9s and 2 7s.This way you can build up two caravans up to the magic 26 number with ease.You literally cannot lose this way unless you screw up big time.

          • PeteTimesSix says:

            There IS also the fact that Sparc sounds like something from a galaxy far, far away, while Craps sounds like something you’d find in the back alley behind your local seedy pub.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Change the name then,but keep the rules.You dont have to invent hot water.Especially if your invention makes it so that that hot water stops being hot half the time.

          • Syal says:

            Also, the idea that you explore an alien world only to find people are playing the same game your dad does every Tuesday is less than fantastic for your fantasy setting.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              If you dont mind them using common english idioms,looking very human(even having breasts when they are lizards),using same tools as humans,……you wont mind them having the same games as humans.

              But there is the opposite problem as well:In witcher 3 you are playing a collectible cards game.In a medieval setting.Not only that,but everyone on the continent knows about it.Furthermore,every card is based on characters who are alive and you can interact with.Not only the famous characters like kings,but the ones who shouldnt be known to anyone,like spies.

              • This is the worst game of Fizzbin I’ve ever played. Don’t you know you can’t post things like that unless it’s a Sunday? You have to discard your hand now or I get to draw an extra two and a half cards tomorrow.

              • Syal says:

                Everyone uses wrenches, not everyone plays Mahjong. A foreign game implies a foreign culture, a local game implies a local one.

                I’m going to assume Geralt is the one making all those cards and getting people to play his game with him.

                “Who’s this?”
                “It’s a spy I met near here. He said he was planning a coup or something pretty soon, so he’s worth half a king.”

                • Mike S. says:

                  “You want me to play a game of your devising, whose rules only you know, for which you hold the only deck? Are you the worst hustler in the world or something?”

        • Richard H says:

          Wait, you’re telling me they made up a game for a casino, in a Star Wars universe, and they didn’t call it a variation on Sabbac? Because, like, there *is* a canonical Star Wars Poker, and it’s that.

      • Felblood says:

        Poker would be excusable in something like Fallout, but I don’t think it would be tonally right to have Earth games in something like Star Wars or the Kingkiller Chronicles, where the exotic world is part of the draw.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          It already has chess with exotic figures,so why would a poker with exotic cards be strange?

          • Mike S. says:

            Pazaak pretty much is to blackjack what Dejarik is to chess. See also Battlestar Galactica’s pyramid and triad vs. poker and basketball– in that order for the original series, reversed for the revival.

            The problem is, once you start messing with it, the odds an RPG developer can, as a minor side-matter, invent a variant as robust as the highly-tested original are pretty low. So when it has to be playable rather than a background element of a movie, it’s pretty likely to be broken.

            (A company who cared might see if there’s an obscure indy card or board game most of their players have never seen that they could license. But minigames generally aren’t treated as important enough for that sort of effort.)

            • Felblood says:

              Pazaak is literally blackjack, but (in order to more completely favor professional gamblers) you get to mix 10 special cards into your own personal draw deck, and bets are played to best 3 out of 5.

              Once you have a few good cards and realize that (since the opponent is drawing from a different deck) you can count cards with impunity, you can basically fleece every rube with the gall to accept your challenge.

              There is a Dark Side Quest on Dantooine where you can con a small business owner out of his livelyhood, by taking advantage of his gambling addiction. The loot is really good at-level, it doesn’t cost your that much alignment , and I love playing poker with a stacked deck, so I do it even when I’m nominally on a light-side run.

    • Alex says:

      Now is a good time to introduce you to the best gambling-game-in-a-roleplaying-game:

      Three Dragon Ante

      Read it. It’s a good story with a great punchline.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    About saving levels and going through the arena:It helps that you get to use all your equipment,including bombs and such,in this arena.Still is difficult though.

  11. Spammy says:

    I remember back when KOTOR was new that I was impressed with the little ineffectual animations you do in combat between rounds.

    This game is old.

    I actually still have the Official Prima Strategy guide for it on my bookshelf. Hit me up if you need any Official Prima Strats. It’s got level maps too.

  12. Thomas says:

    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=227

    Actually the first result on the search bar for “tabletop”

  13. Starkos says:

    “If you’ve never played D&D before, than you have no idea how significant a +1 bonus is.”

    When I first played KOTOR, I had yet to play D&D, and the only RPG experience I had was the TUTORIAL for Baldur’s Gate 2. Everything that said “+1 to X” sounded so lame. “Really? +1 is all you’ve got?”

    • guy says:

      It’s 5% significant, incidentally.

      • Matt Downie says:

        5% is sometimes more than 5%. Sort of.
        For example, if you have +5 to hit and your opponent has an AC of 25, you can only hit them on a natural 20, a 5% chance. If you get an extra +1, you can then hit them on a 19 or 20, a 10% chance. So although it’s only +5%, it’s also double the previous hit chance, which is the same as +100%. Therefore 100 = 5. (Therefore, all numbers are equal to all other numbers.)

        Understanding this makes it possible to calculate whether or not you should use Power Attack (which sacrifices accuracy for damage). Which is hard enough in a D20 tabletop game; virtually impossible in a videogame adaption.

  14. Veylon says:

    I feel like those stat bonuses might be noticed by players more if the characters commented on them. The game could analyze each hit or miss and how much different modifiers contributed and have the character say something appropriate. Like, “I love this hat!”, if they nail a hit they would’ve missed without it or “I gotta break this curse!” if they get hit by a blow that would’ve otherwise failed or even “I miss my ring!” if that had some bonus that they are suffering for the lack of before the player had them take it off.

    Of course, this could get really annoying, so maybe they’d only mention their shiny new gear two or three times before shutting up until the next upgrade.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Plenty of rpgs offer your an option to set how often your character will respond when you order them to do something.So having them give meaningful advice like that would actually be a good thing.

  15. Thomas says:

    The whole “energy shields” conceit is the reason everyone fights with knives in the Dune universe. Because bullets go too fast and lasguns create a catastrophic explosion.

    (never answered is why nobody used remote-controlled lasguns, but whatever)

    • guy says:

      Because the explosion is a bit too catastrophic and people suspect you of violating the ban on nuclear weapons.

      • Decius says:

        Or because a remote-controlled lasgun is too similar to a machine that imitates a human mind.

        Dune needed a lot of handwaving to keep technology from breaking story.

        • Fizban says:

          Pretty sure they had plenty of remote controlled robots, it’s the nuke-splosion that made lasers taboo.

        • Matt Downie says:

          I never understood why they went, “We can’t use lasers any more, so we’ll have to fall back on the second most powerful weapon ever created: the knife!” Not flamethrowers or chainsaws or concussion grenades or rapiers or…

          • Mike S. says:

            The chain on a chainsaw moves fast, so is presumably blocked by shields. (And is, in any case, an unwieldy weapon that doesn’t offer huge combat advantages over a static blade.) Ditto a concussion grenade wave (which presumably moves at Mach 1).

            (Flamethrowers I’m not sure about, but those are always somewhat specialized in use.)

            But spears were always in more widespread military use than swords or knives, and I don’t really see any reason why a deliberate spear thrust would work less well. For that matter, some sort of calibrated crossbow that shot quarrels slow enough to penetrate shields should be workable at least at relatively close range.

            The real answer is that Herbert wanted to force blade fights. If he’d thought of more objections, he’d have put in more handwaves.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      In wider galaxy the focus was on cqc due to the shields yes. Also the focus on cqc allowed Emperor to mantain grater control since his sardukar were cqc beasts.
      On Dune on the other hand nobody sane used shields since dust tended to cause them to mallfunction and they attracted worms, so Fremen actually used all kinds of XXth century weapons + knives.

  16. Zombie says:

    Lets start this episode out with some heavy foreshadowing. Awesome.

    Having the Alien and robot gibberish is a nice touch, but damn, it can get annoying REAL quick.

    I love that, in a universe that has blaster weapons, starships and lightsabers, having a matchlock pistol could easily make you one of the best soldiers there is.

    I just broke into your house, and you’ve got a bounty on your head, so you should be pretty damn warry of any and all strangers, but yeah, you can trust ME completely.

    I hope we do a lightside playthrough. I don’t like the events during the dark side ending all that much.

    This game has MULTIPLE minigames, two of which are mandatory to do at certain times. And somehow NONE of the minigames are fun.

    There’s somewhere that you can just kill some Sith to get their uniforms in one of the apartment complexes. Its MUCH easier.

    The thing I hate about the arena cutscene is that it’s unskipable. Just let me skip this cutscene Bioware.

    Taris is one of the longest, and most annoying planets in this game. Leaving aside the fact that you don’t really want to level up, so it constantly throws high level enemys at you; it just drags on, and on. This is a game that manages to have a sewer level and not one, not two but THREE fights in various peoples bases, and one of the most painful boss fights in the game. Like, the exciting part of the game is when you get to Dantooine, and become a Jedi; basically when you get to actually start doing things that matter to the overarching story. Taris is longer than any other planet, save Manaan I believe, and due to plot reasons basically everything you do besides the main quest line is rendered meaningless because Malak bombs the whole planet to smithereens to try and kill Bastila. So yeah, I’m not the biggest fan of Taris.

    • Syal says:

      The best playthrough is getting the light side ending with full dark side points. It’s so stupid.

    • Supahewok says:

      On the matchlock pistol thing. Star Wars does have those; as Rutskarn mentioned, they’re called “slugthrowers”, because Star Wars has to call every damn thing something different. What the cast didn’t remember is that folks in the military are still running around in battle armor designed to deflect conventional weaponry. I remember a point being made in an EU book to a storm-trooper in training: that although lasers go through the armor like hot butter it still offered superior protections from ballistic and primitive weaponry.

      Not that that helped much at Endor.

      Anyways, point is that in the Star Wars universe ballistic weapons are useless against armor. Which actually makes them effective against Jedi, cuz the bullets move through the blade quickly enough that they aren’t completely evaporated, but guns are so rare that very few people ever think of using them against Jedi. Whom themselves are pretty rare, a few thousand among an entire galaxy even under the best of conditions.

      • I don’t think the term “slug-thrower” originated with Star Wars. The earliest citation I found was from a story by Gordon R. Dickson in 1965. I’m sure it’s just to differentiate weapons in worlds where bullets and ray-pistols exist, though I can see it having use in our modern world (where we have rocket-propelled ordinance, laser-based weapons, etc.).

        Star Wars isn’t where you want to go for military realism, either, as Stormtrooper armor has never protected the wearer from anything, be it blaster fire or Ewok-propelled rocks. If they made it have some kind of energy-dispersal ability where it took three or four shots to down a trooper (and even then, maybe not kill them), that would’ve been cool and made Ewok weaponry more rational to use (assuming that the armor didn’t do so well vs. projectiles).

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        So if their armor protects you from bullets,how come it doesnt stop swords?

        What is this obsession of games that swords and arrows are somehow more powerful than bullets?

        • Mike S. says:

          I think it’s the other way around. They want swordfights because swashbuckling and romantic, but know that there’s a reason firearms displaced melee weapons. So they come up with mechanics to disable them, with greater or lesser plausibility.

          • Not to mention having no guns or gun-like things anyone can use means the spellcasters aren’t out of a job.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Why?Even in d&d the best spellcasters arent damage dealers but buffers.Those are useful no matter the setting,accessibility of weapons,etc.And after those are summoners and then debuffers.Damage dealers are pretty low on the scale of useful casters.Why waste a spell killing half the enemies,when its better to charm that half to fight the other half?Or speeding your party,or making them immune to all enemy attacks,or making the enemy extra fragile,or making your party invisible,or send a bunch of summoned stuff to soak up all the damage,…….

        • Matt Downie says:

          It stops regular swords, but not vibro-blades or whatever those special indestructible swords are.

          • Felblood says:

            Actually, defense from armor is effective against blasters, blades, rippers and even light sabers, in this game.

            A Guardian in heavy armor is a force to be reckoned with, even before things like energy shields and blaster deflection come into play.

  17. Fizban says:

    Pretty low down here but maybe someone can answer this: why haven’t they made a DnD (or some other d20) game in isometric 2D that is turn based LIKE THE GAME IS SUPPOSED TO BE?* All the problems of running a turn based system in real-time go away if you stop trying to do something that stupid. Animations? Melee only needs single attack/full attack/spin attack. Bad response time, numbers don’t seem to matter, all of it fixed if you’re not forcing it. I guess the old Fallout games were like this? Except they used their own system.

    I like Neverwinter Nights 2 well enough but even getting some additional classes modded in and trawling for decent adventures, I’m just sick of seeing a turn based game warped in order to accommodate real-time animations. If I could play Final Fantasy Tactics with a 3.5e ruleset and some exploration in-between that would be awesome, and I’m pretty sure every single aspect of the game would be easier to make. I expect it would be easier to mod too, in order to add all the content they’d leave out/add your own homebrew.

    *Pretty sure I can guess actually: DnD is effectively AAA material and no one who wants to make tactical games has the money to buy a license.

    Edit: whoops, messed up my email, hope the filter doesn’t eat me. Avatar looks way cooler than my usual though.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I think temple of elemental evil was turn based.

      However,real time with pause works well with these rules because there are plenty of actions you get to do in d&d that dont take a full round,and initiative often means some people will go simultaneously.

      • Fizban says:

        I tried the demo of that game back in the day but I don’t remember it going well and reports said it was so buggy it was nigh unplayable. I see it’s on GoG now for a mere $6, but the leading comment seems to suggest it still needs the fan-patch. Has anyone tried it?

        I don’t really hate the real-time turn-based pause-whenyouwant setup, it does work pretty well, it’s just way more complicated. Seems ridiculous that it’s the standard and the only one that actually does turns is still highly 3d. Where was the actual turn-based grid game? Was it the roguelikes?

        For that matter, I’m surprised I haven’t heard of anyone making an RPG Maker game with Pathfinder rules or something.

        • ehlijen says:

          Temple of Elemental Evil is a good game if you are looking for ‘literally DnD 3.5 on the computer’; it’s as close as you’re going to get (naturally, the Z-axis has been banished to one random joke encounter).

          I will recommend that you use the Circle of Eight mod for it though, it fixes a bunch of bugs, adds in missing features and has a lot more content for levels 11-20, even though most of it is fairly generic and grindy.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            adds in missing features and has a lot more content for levels 11-20, even though most of it is fairly generic and grindy.

            Really?The thing that made me not want to play it is the limit to the first 10 unfun levels.But you have piqued my interest.

          • djw says:

            The turn based implementation of 3.5 rules in Temple of Elemental Evil is very good. The story is very threadbare. In fact, you have to play as evil if you want to be exposed to anything remotely resembling a plot. Its still sort of fun though.

      • Abnaxis says:

        I was going to mention ToEE, glad someone else already did.

        If you aren’t strictly looking for DnD, there’s Shadowrun: Dragonfall as well, which AFAIK (I’m not as familiar with Shadowrun as I am with DnD 3.5e) runs on Shadowrun PnP rules in a turn-based system.

        • ehlijen says:

          It’s not the PnP shadowrun rules, but a simplistic approximation. It works well enough, apart from decking which is a snoozefest. The story of Dragonfall is great, though! (Deadman Switch not so much, but it’s still goodish.)

    • Raygereio says:

      why haven’t they made a game in isometric 2D that is turn based

      Because the publishers’ market research data told them that such game will review poorly and won’t sell.

      And honestly, I don’t think they were wrong in this case. Games like XCom:EU & Pillars of Eternity certianly succeeded recently, but I don’t think those games would have been that succesful without the decade+ of nostalgia building up amongst fans of the genre, and non-fans getting tired of being offered one samey shooter after the other and getting desperate for something new.
      Back in 2003 (the year KotOR was released and back in the era DnD games were still a thing) I wouldn’t be surprised if XCom:EU for instance would have had no more then a tiny cult following and have been concidered a failure behind the scenes.

      As for today. Well a DnD game is somewhat unlikely to happen, I think:
      The mid-range publishers that traditionally published the DnD games are an endagered species. So they’re out.
      The AAA publishers are more interested in having and controlling their own IP, instead of licensing another’s. And the DnD brand just isn’t as big as it used to be to make it interesting.
      The only real possibility I can see for D&D games in the immediate future is via indie devs. But that would require Hasbro pulling their head of their arse, so yeah.

      Edit:
      Oh, wait. There’s a new D&D game coming out: Sword Coast Legends. Whelp, colour me surprised.

      • Christopher says:

        I think Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem do well for themselves. Not that those are DnD systems, but they are 2D and isometric and turn-based.

        • Fizban says:

          Love me some Fire Emblem, sure, just wish I could get some DnD 3.5. FFT always seemed a little to hard to penetrate mechanically, I read a let’s play and it was great but Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior are often more demanding than I think they should be for a lot of mechanics and leveling stuff.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Oh, wait. There’s a new D&D game coming out: Sword Coast Legends. Whelp, colour me surprised.

        Is it kickstarted?Because that wouldnt surprise me at all.

        • Supahewok says:

          No, its got too many licenses for that. Its based on the 5e D&D rules AND takes place in the Forgotten Realms setting. Wizards of the Coast doesn’t let other companies play with its IP willy-nilly, and a Kickstarter I think would’ve been too much looseness for them.

          Although for what its worth, according to Wikipedia it is being developed independently, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Wizards of the Coast fronted at least some of the money for it.

          It actually looks interesting. Big promises for multi-player. Lets one player be the DM, setting up dungeons and controlling them in real time.

      • Fizban says:

        Trailer looks okay, but it’s still real-time, and it’s 5e. I’ll probably give it a try eventually since it’ll be on steam.

        There are of course what, two DnD MMO’s out right now? But nothing focused on gameplay more than spectacle. Sword Coast Legends boasts about 5 races and 6 classes, I’ve seen people brew that much before breakfast or some other hyperbole. What I’d really like is a game with an editor that doesn’t suck: I can ‘brew for DnD by writing sentences on a paper, but the “toolsets” they release for making mods are nuts. People have made so much great stuff under duress, imagine what we could do with proper tools?

        Obviously I’m not a programmer, but I’ve seen the Morrowind, Fallout 3, and Warcraft 3 editors, and then there’s the NWN2 tools. If I want to make a Coldball spell I should be able to copy fireball, change the type to cold, and replace the visual with another asset. Not edit a text file that becomes incompatible with other mods, then have to write an entirely separate script for that spell, then figure out where to connect those two dots, and then how to get that into character menus, and then. . .

        • Raygereio says:

          …the “toolsets” they release for making mods are nuts [snip]
          If I want to make a Coldball spell I should be able to copy fireball, change the type to cold, and replace the visual with another asset. Not edit a text file…[snip]

          The issue with tools such as these is a basic “Specialize and make it simple to use” vs “Generalize and allow more freedom in what you can do” one.

          Let’s say the NWN2 toolset has an spell-creation interface designed solely for fireball type spells. Okay, cool. You can now create your coldball spell with few mouse clicks. Awesome!
          But what if you want to create a magic missile type spell? Or a summon one? Or a buff? The toolset’s devs would have to create seperate interfaces for all various type of spells. That creates a problem because there’s simply no way the toolset’s devs can foresee all the various types of spell you’d want to create. So while the process might be easier, ultimatly you end up being limited in what you can create.

          I’m not saying toolets such as the NWN2 one or FO3’s GECK are perfect and couldn’t be improved with a better interface. Oh dear Ao, they can definetly be improved. But their design fals firmly in the “Generalize and allow more freedom in what you can do” school.

          If it’s a comfort, you’re not alone in how you view toolsets. I’ve been involved a lot of various modding communities and I’ve seen tons of people who come in all enthousiastic and brimming with ideas and who then quickly slunk of as they find out they need to start by learning how to use the available tools and the whole process involves a lot of work that’s often tedious.
          Or to paraphrase a Microsoft dev who worked on their XNA toolset: “We had a lot of complaints from gamers who expected they could download XNA, open it up, select Master Chief and have it churn out a new Halo”.

          • Fizban says:

            My mistake, I meant to imply that NWN2 was significantly worse, not that they were all terrible. FO3 and WC3 I was able to use to do the little things I wanted to do, and while they clearly weren’t designed for casual users I could see what I’d have to learn in order to do more. A hybrid approach of most of the standard templates already existing, with room for inventing new triggers, and then a space to just add your own scripts if there’s nothing to do what you want. NWN2 may not be as bad as it seemed, but for something as integral as spells to be that difficult did not bode well to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s actually harder to do turn-based stuff, making NWN2 mechanics editing harder in turn, but that’s where I think not running it in real-time would reduce problems.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Im pretty sure nwn1s aurora is still used a bunch.Its an amazing toolset.

      • Ivan says:

        I don’t know, I can never get enough tactics games. 90% of the reason I got a 3DS was because I needed more Fire Emblem in my life. XCOM is the only game of it’s type that I know of for PC (other than some flash games) and until then the only place I knew that I could even find tactics games (other than on the table top) was from Nintendo.

        I don’t think it’s the over saturation of shooters that helped XCOM succeed so much as it is the under-saturation of tactics games, which has been a thing on the PC for as long as I can remember.

        *edit* derp, I forgot about Frozen Synapse, how could I forget about Frozen Synapse? Maybe because is was a little bit too intuitive and over complicated. Still really cool once you figured out how it worked.

        • Fizban says:

          High five! I also bought my 3ds on the trigger of Fire Emblem: Awakening. Steam has some tactics games on it too. Agarest: Generations of War and the indy Rime Berta are two that I have, there might be a couple others.

    • Merlin says:

      Some of it is likely that D&D’s combat system is totally distinct from and transitions poorly with their noncombat system. It’s one of those times that it helps to remember that Final Fantasy & company are built on the bones of D&D, and that “You’re in a fight! Wipe to black, throw on some jams, and replace everything you know about how the game looks and works!” is very much a commonality between the two. But JRPGs get away with it to a certain degree by accepting that break and not trying to hide it or explain it away. It’s just how the game works, so accept it or play something else.

      Like you said, Fallout & Fallout 2 are the only notable games that really try D&D’s combat/adventure mode split without a change of scenery & mechanics, and getting into and out of combat is super weird in those. Your press the big red button to start combat, but if you don’t like where you’re standing, you can press it again, creep up a hex or two, and re-start the “fight.” It’s awkward, and a more D&D-like game would spend a lot more time having you fight goblins like this and a lot less time chatting up weirdo NPCs.

      Basically, D&D cares a lot about whether you’re “in combat” while also doing a really bad job of defining what that actually means. Real-Time-With-Pause combat is an understandable attempt to bridge that gap, even though it’s awful and games should stop using it.

    • It’s been a long time since I played it, but I seem to remember Icewind Dale 2 having an auto pause in the options somewhere. Disclaimer: I could be confusing it with Icewind Dale 1, either Baldur’s Gate, or Neverwinter Nights 1 or 2 or an expansion to any of the above.
      Icewind Dale 2 is D&D 3ed, the first one’s AD&D and they’ve done an enhanced edition, and both are on gog. Baldur’s Gate 2 has a better story, but the Icewind Dales let you make your entire party (up to 6). They’re more or less 2D, not sure about the isometric. To me, the Icewind Dale games always felt more tactical than BG or BG2, probably because I’d created my entire party to work together and compliment each other rather than just picking up random people along the way.
      (A brief google search indicates that the Enhanced Ed of Icewind Dale has auto pause & that ID2 also has some form of it though possibly not quite what you want)
      Edited to add: I’d suggest hitting gamefaqs if you want to play the first Icewind Dale and aren’t familiar w/ AD&D or, like me, still can’t be arsed to learn the system properly. There’s a bunch of faqs with suggested party builds. And hopefully I understood what kind of game you were looking for and apologize if I got it wrong. Anti-nausea meds, pain meds, & a lack of sleep give me a severe penalty to my reading comprehension rolls.

      • Fizban says:

        I probably used “isometric 2d” wrong anyway, since I was figuring a viewpoint with some rotation, which would require 3d or an excess of spritework. Auto-pause would really help in the real-time games when you want to be tactical, and it’s good to know at least one game had that as an option, thanks for pointing it out. Sadly what I really want is more like FFT with DnD 3.5 rules and dungeon sized maps. Towns don’t need maps until you start a fight, just still backgrounds+characters and dialogue for movement. And half the point of the game is ridiculously mod-friendly tools so any old shmuck can make stuff on a whim :p

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        All of those(icewind dales,baldurs gates and neverwinter nights)have auto pause options.But usually,manual pausing is more effective.

        The advantage of icewind dales is that you get to create your whole party,instead of just your one main character,and you can afford to lose any one of them in combat and resurrect them later,instead of losing as soon as your main gets snuffed.

    • Jonathan says:

      Baldur’s Gate II is turn-based real-time with the ability to pause. It works well.

  18. silver Harloe says:

    “A to-hit bonus on a hat?”
    sure, why not?
    fantasy: magically improves your eye-hand coordination
    scifi: includes some kind of aiming optics/HUD
    or maybe it improves confidence, or blocks glare, or distracts the opponent so they don’t duck as quickly, or sticks little needles into your brain that make it work faster, or bestows favor from the goddess of the hunt, or it whispers tips and tricks into your ears, or just keeps the sweat out of your eyes

  19. Gruhunchously says:

    I forgot about the guy that tries to scam you with the exclusive band tickets. I genuinely love that he’s not an important character, he’s not an exposition machine, he hasn’t got a quest attached to him, he’s just a guy who you can give money to if you’re an idiot.

    Some goes for the stuffy aristocrat lady that Josh pissed of, who sent thugs after him before running away. She’s just there to be nasty and annoying, but there’s a whole conversation and enemy encounter linked to her that doesn’t have anything to do with anything else.

    Do modern RPGs still have NPCs like that, that exist only for the sake of world-building? I’m not sure.

    • I’d say Skyrim has loads of them, but only because the writing is so disjointed that a lot of stuff has nothing to do with any other stuff.

      Vampire: Bloodlines had a few that weren’t main-quest NPCs with their own “thing” going on. There are two old guys who claim they’re rivals over some huge pile of cash but they need the other one to be dead, and they keep sending you back and forth between them, each time your “victim” upping your supposed payoff and sending you back to kill your “employer.”

    • Grudgeal says:

      Shadowrun Returns has loads of them. Especially in Dragonfall and Hong Kong, where a lot of the Kreuzbasar and Heoi floating market is filled with flavour NPCs you can talk with to learn stuff about the background. You can even have a ‘quest’ in the Kreuzbasar where you help the leader of an ork charity expand his operation by giving him money and all you get out of it is a fuzzy feeling that you’re, somehow, making a difference.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Witcher 3 has plenty – in fact, it sorta depends on how one would define what counts as just world-building, but you could almost say that most of the quests, and their associated NPCs, are just world-building, really. There’s this seamless spectrum, almost, between the true faffing-about quests and the core story ones. Terrifically well done, I’d say.

  20. Felblood says:

    A lore niggle for Josh:

    There actually is one faction manufacturing slug-throwers, in order to overcome energy shields. The Mandilorian clans manufactured a limited supply of “Ripper” pistols for use against energy shielded elite troops. The Damage is pretty poor, but it’s a good situational weapon for dual pistol characters.

    • ehlijen says:

      And then there are disruptors that just go through any shield (and you can kill the rancor with it, too).

    • Lachlan the Mad says:

      The Ripper was used as part of a monstrous critstacking build in KOTOR2. I think you could set it up so that it critted on a 6+ somehow.

      • Felblood says:

        I’ve developed a lot of build that stack up crit range multipliers on top of weapons with good base threat ranges, but I’ve never found a way to make it work on the Ripper. The upgradable bowcaster was HK’s main weapon for much of my first Sith play-through. (Crits on 5-20 with sniper shot and a Keen scope, and you have plenty of room to make it so it stuns whenever it crits)

        The base 20-20 threat and the lack of upgrade slots has always kept the Ripper on my bench, when not facing insane amounts of shielding. It is the punting team of blaster pistols.

        • Lachlan the Mad says:

          Must not have been the Ripper then. I think that there was an upgradeable ranged weapon with a 17-20 threat, so if you put a double crit range upgrade in it and then used Precise Shot it had a ludicrous crit range.

          • Il Padrino says:

            I think the top end blasters in KOTOR2 were Micro-Pulse Blasters, but of course with the random drops there was no guarantee you’d get them. Just slightly behind them (statistically insignificant, really; with upgrades and a good build blasters were insanely overpowered) were the Mandalorian Disintegrators. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of?

  21. GloatingSwine says:

    Dice systems present information differently than you want them in a computer based system.

    Dice systems (that aren’t rolemaster) are designed so that your human brain can relatively swiftly work out the maths involved in taking an action, but that’s not relevant to a computer based system.

    In a computer based RPG I don’t actually care that I have a THAC0 of 6 and he has an AC of -2 and so I need to roll 8 or better on my D20, I just want to know that I have a 60% chance to hit because that’s the important information and the maths that generate that 60% hit chance can be as complicated as they like. As long as I get good feedback on what is going to cause my chances to improve or disimprove as I make changes to my character.

    Computer RPG systems, even ones for running classic style RPGs like Pillars of Eternity, are better when designed from the ground up to exploit the fact that a computer is better and faster at maths and bookkeeping than frail and easily distracted human brains.

  22. Mersadeon says:

    While I will always be a KOTOR2 guy, I do have to admit I forgot just how impressive this games art is – open spaces are well done here, whereas Citadel Station in KOTOR2 feels really bad.

    And the music! Totally forgot how good the music is.

  23. John says:

    As long as we’re talking about Carth, I suppose that now is a good time to ponder how companion-initiated conversations work.

    I can’t really prove it, but–based on my knowledge of the NWN engine–I believe that there are certain invisible “trigger” areas scattered around KOTOR levels. When you enter one of these areas, there’s a script that checks your character level against the companions currently accompanying you. If your character level is high enough, one of the companions will start talking your ear off. It’s most obvious with Carth on Taris. If you don’t talk to Carth in the apartment, Carth will always start a conversation with you outside the weapons shop in the upper city. Another trigger is located outside Matrik’s apartment in the lower city.

    After Taris, there are–I think–triggers right outside your ship on each of the planets. I’m sure that there are more, too. Of course, after Taris, I usually fall into the habit of initiating conversations myself while in the Ebon Hawk, so the triggers seldom get pulled.

    • Thomas says:

      I really dislike the companion conversation system in KOTOR. It feels like you’re having one conversation that’s been spread across the game, I’m a much bigger fan of KOTOR2’s

      • Felblood says:

        KOTOR 2’s conversations never did it for me the same way, mainly because the devs were using Kreia to always spoil my fun, no matter what.

        Particularly galling, there is a one-time conversation prompt where she offers to tell you about the 3 Sith Lords, lists their names and asks you which one interests you most. You can pick one of these conversation options and only one.

        The two that you didn’t pick? You’ll have to see those on your next play-through.

        You don’t even have the option to ask her for more information, and get shot down. Talking to Kreia magically turns your character into an idiot . It simply never occurs to your character to collect the rest of her mission critical information. I think the cut content patch fixes this, but still…

        It IS eventually implied that she has been force manipulating you into being an idiot, during all your conversations, but still…

  24. Hal says:

    On top of all this, KOTOR had the additional challenge of adapting a system designed for swords & sorcery to a world of blaster rifles and hand grenades.

    Surely I’m not the only one who has played the D20 Star Wars RPG, right? It was made by WotC and everything. My friend has, like, 20 books published for it. (Although Saga Edition was 2007, quite a bit after KOTOR was released.)

    Oh, I wasn’t really a fan of it, mind you. I found it overly difficult to actually do anything of substance in the game world, and it held on to all the worst parts of 3.5 D&D rules, but it was there. KOTOR did have a base to work from.

    • MichaelGC says:

      What’s a D20? ;D

    • ehlijen says:

      KOTOR was built on DnD, but with several tweaks to make it its own system. It adopted very little of the changes D20 star wars made to the core d20 system (there were no wound points, armour didn’t give soak instead of armour class etc).

      The KOTOR feat tree resembles nothing in either DnD or D20 star wars, for example. That’s an area where bioware did decide to ditch the PnP source and make something more easily presented to the player on screen. It was the first baby step towards shedding those trappings completely, and I’m told by their next game they were making up their own systems. I can’t say that I ever truly made sense of DA:O’s stat system, though.

  25. Somniorum says:

    Regarding the alien speech, and how there are a handful of lines that repeat over and over for every alien (varying for which type of alien it is) – there is actually one exception to this rule in this game.

    Glupor, a Rodian (I think that was his name, anyway). He’s a fairly unimportant character who makes an appearance during the murder investigation quest for Jolee Bindo on Manaan. For everything he says, he actually has unique lines of alien gibberish (you can hear him say his own name a few times, for instance).

    Why they did this for such an unimportant character I’m not sure – always kind of wondered if they originally intended to have individual lines for ALL aliens until they realised all the problems that would pose, but maybe had (for some odd reason) already recorded Glupor’s lines and put them in anyway.

    Or maybe someone just really, *really* loved Glupor.

    • Il Padrino says:

      At least two of the Hutts (Motta and Ajuur, I think) can be heard saying their own names during their speech, though I’m not sure if anything else in their dialogue is all that unique. Ajuur is a little harder to hear, but it’s near the beginning of his introductory dialogue. Motta is a good bit clearer (helped by the fact he actually says “Motta the Hutt”) and, if I recall, says it when announcing the start of a new swoop race.

      Not sure if it means anything, but I find it interesting.

  26. Steve C says:

    It might be fun to cast your buffs on your party members at the start of the fight at the table, but in a game it ends up being something you have to cast again and again, turning it into a repetitive chore.

    Fun fact with KOTOR- There is (was?) a bug with buff durations. Buffs would last for an entire level if you cast the buff immediately before a load screen.

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