Treasure Update

I've updated the treasure document, for what I hope will be its release in Fight On!

It can be found here. What is it?

From the document:
What did historical looters find of value?
Where are the tables for these things? Well, completely unsatisfied with every hodgepodge treasure table scattered all over the universe, I decided to compile a little document that would help me when preparing my games. Now you can roll up an 800 gp armoire that the players will walk right past when you roll that 20 for room contents. (Unguarded treasure?!) Now you can put more than enough treasure in the game for the players, and leave it up to them if they want to sell their diamond bells, or try to figure out how to move their 500 pounds of iron ingots. Now you can actually *know* how difficult to move whatever they find actually is.

Inside you can find information on how to describe magical swords, what treasure containers could exist, how to generate hoards containing items such as art, gems, jewelry, coins, goods, furnishings, and clothing as well as how to describe in detail each of the items above.

It's totally free - if you take it, and like it, please comment about it, either here, by e-mail or in your blog. I'd love to know if anyone is using this document and what they think.

On a Happy Turkey Day

Hi all! Hope everyone has something to be thankful for! I wish (level 9) everyone a happy Thanksgiving!

I am very thankful I have such a wonderful gaming group.

I wanted to say that 5 of 8 members in our gaming group no longer have jobs in the last year, in many cases due to this 'recession'. I wish them the best. I have no doubt the coming year will be a better one for all of them. I hope gaming takes their mind off their stresses for a little while, I look forward to seeing them every week. May everyone have plenty of good gaming this holiday season. Goodness knows I already sent out our gaming schedule. :-)

On the Orc

Why is the orc the iconic face of Dungeons and Dragons humanoids? In large part it has to do with Tolkien's treatment of them in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, but not all the responsibility can be laid at the feet of those two works. It goes beyond just official orcs also. Anyone can create something, but for it to catch on it has to resonate somehow with humanity. A hallmark of fantasy is a large violent humanoid race that exists in the wilds, uncivilized, in competition with man. Why?

I had a realization the other day about this very question. Human beings have evolved several traits to procure food in a very successful manner. Large brain mass so that we could remember where all the good fruit is. Various adaptations that make us good at tool use and adaptation in differing climates.

At some point in the past there was a break, a differing path of evolution of man. One branch developed teamwork, squad level tactics, along with excellent communication skills. They perfected weapons like spears, and traps like deadfalls. They had thick dense bones, and generation and generation they developed more and more powerful musculature. They perfected techniques that allowed them to bring down the largest and most violent animals. They were strong and quick and smart.

The other developmental path taken was wiry, thin, and good at running. Relaxed, with no skill at weaponry or combat. Constantly on the move. We must have seemed strange to our neanderthal cousins who were superior to us in almost every way. Then something happened.

It got warm. As the large game animals retreated into the forests, the neanderthals began to starve. You couldn't back an antelope into a canyon trap, they was a herd and they were too fast. Meanwhile, our adaptations (heat dispersion though the skin, the arch of the human foot, our endurance) allowed us to run our food to death, practically at will. Their food source literally disappeared. Soon enough, so did they.

But they didn't disappear from our memory. Beings, like us, strong, bestial, and warlike. Brutish, physically superior to us in nearly every way. Gone, but not forgotten.

Is it any wonder why it's such a powerful image?

Session Fifteen and Session Sixteen

A small note to my players: These session reports contain information that is spoilers for your current characters who are staying with the Hightide Fen clan. Feel free to read, but remember, anything you read cannot affect your decision making process when deciding where to go next week. (The session Fourteen post is here. It was saved and was posted in-line.)

Again, we had several players not show up for Session Fifteen; and after some uncertainty, we had them not show up again for session Sixteen.

I've talked to may players, and this isn't directed at them. This is a general question to the people who aren't in my game. How many sessions can a player miss (consecutively, or erratically) until you free up their seat to add a new person? (And if they only tell you they aren't going to make it hours before the game *Shakes fist*)

During session Fifteen, the reduced group spent some time within the Agarbonu, the Boarman city. Initially they arrived and Spiritspyre immediately went off to talk to his high priest who's name translates as Leafblower, while they stayed in the outer miles of uninhabited city. A few random rolls later, and I found out the personality of his priest was bigoted. Suddenly Spiritspyre's constant refrain of "You're gods don't live here! Go Home!" made much more sense. He immediately rounded up a dozen guards and set off to arrest the player characters.

Arriving, and announcing his intention to arrest them and throw them in Jail, Null, Zeltara's silver drake, breathed his paralyzing gas upon the Boarmen, and they tied them all up. They coerced a cure from Zeltara's deafness from the Leafblower (who was a cleric of no meek level).

They then headed off to visit the 'non-boarman' section of the city. There, they found many Ape-men of various tribes, and Gnolls of various tribes. They also saw a strange people with broad jaws, and sharp teeth wearing strange clothes known as the Shi'ar, and several times caught a glimpse of some people who looked suspiciously human. While drunk Zeltara was pretty sure he saw a talking giant spider wearing clothes, but nobody paid him much mind. They attempted to talk to one of the Ape-men of the Chokwe Tribe named Marduk, but he was restless and made the party nervous.

At that point there was some discussion of leaving town (!), and I sort of fell down from my earlier resolve to be 'impartial' and 'not-involved'. I asked why they would leave after just having met two people, in a city of 3000. I pointed out that this was a town with many sages and libraries, in addition to more resources then they have had to date. Upon reflection, I really should not have said anything. There is a line between communicating clearly and insuring the players understand the situation, versus leading them by the nose to where you want them to go. We had a bit of discussion during the next session where my players reminded me they were raised on  newer, more linear, versions of the game, and it's hard to remember that sometimes.

After the discussion, they headed towards the civic center, met the trusting Boarman, Hornsong. They reported the attempt of the arrest, and Hornsong shook his head, familar with the racist rabble rousing that Leafblower often engages in. He said he would take care of it, and sent some troops to where Spiritspyre and Leafblower and his men were tied up. They paid the numerous fees and taxes the city requested, and did some much needed training. They made regular foray's out into the woods to check on the valley, and the town, and soon discovered that where once Trenton, the town they had been banished from had stood, was now destroyed. They contacted a sage and with much frustration, parted with their hard earned gold. The sage told them it would be many days before they would receive their answer.

They decided to spend the rest of the gaming night, seeking adventure and treasure. While preparing, healing and shopping in town, they again ran across Spiritspyre in a prison cage. After he informed them he had changed to a different god, he somehow talked them into letting him back into the party. They headed back to the Zunel complex, killing several Wild Boars on the way. Once inside, they descended to new territory, setting off a trap blocking them from heading back the way they entered. They explored a small chamber and fought several Shadows, which were turned in short order. They found a small horde of valuables, discovered a stairway up which they were able to locate on the fully mapped first floor, and we ended for the night there.

I've combined these two sessions for several reasons. First, the same group of players canceled on each session. Second, session sixteen was a comedy of errors.

Still waiting for the sage's research, they left seeking more treasure. Their first plan was to head out to the Mabden Treasure Cache, but after leaving they headed straight for the ancient Gorm Dungeon beneath the petrified tree. On the way they fought and handily killed several Poisonous Toads. It was late in the day when they reached the petrified tree, and they decided to camp. They bedded down for the night, and in the early morning, had an encounter. With 19 Ghouls. Woken up, instead of fleeing, they began attacking, some without armor. They fought desperately. It seemed as if things might turn their way, but disaster struck and Spiritspyre became paralyzed. Lacking the ability to turn the Ghouls, the battle quickly went bad.

Lost, and considering the situation only in terms of what they could do on the mat, I again walked that line of discussing options with the players. I pointed out that they should check their coupons, perhaps something might be useful there. Also, I informed them that they could always request Divine Intervention. After the fight we had a small discussion during dinner and I mentioned that I was dissapointed in myself for telling them what to do. They accurately pointed out to me that they had no idea they could even request divine intervention. Spiritspyre, requesting divine intervention (base 1%) being on a mission for his god (+25%), being a 4th level (+4%) cleric (+3%), and never having asked for intervention before (+5%), was granted reprieve (Rolled a 17%). Out of the darkness, several forest warriors appeared, looking shockingly human on this strange alien continent, standing six to seven feet tall, with dark hair, heavy brows, and large noses, wearing leathers and hides. They killed the Ghouls, thick arrow shafts piercing their chests, a squad cutting them apart with hand axes, before fading back off into the night. Only one stood to cast a troubled look towards the party before loping off into the distance.

After this fight, a small discussion was had, the same one I've mentioned earlier. I also shared this nugget of old school thinking. One of the reasons this battle went south, was they forgot their purpose! They were heading to the Mabden Cache. Stopping to face large numbers of undead or any wandering monster is dangerous and could lead them off the track. If a battle isn't necessary avoid it. Encounters range from all different types, there is no level appropriate encounter. Focus on your goal. This advice would prove to be prophetic.

Damaged, and with a henchmen dead they headed for town. Healing up, they headed out one last time to again, explore a nearby place. Soon they came across a trail of ants, Giant Ants. Sixteen were found.  Ignoring their goal, they engaged the ants. It seemed to be going well, many ants were falling. They would pinch on, and stab with their stingers, the poison seeming not particularly strong. In a few minutes the ants were vanquished, leaving only Zeltara, Null, and Niles poisoned. Simple enough they thought. As each minute went by, they got sicker and sicker. Over an hour away from town, Spritspyre's substantial healing abilities were quickly drained, and they continued to pale, and become ill.
Less then twenty minutes after the defeat of the ants, Zeltara, curled up in the arms of the noble silver drake, Null, and closed his non-ressurectable elven eyes for the last time. Null followed him peacefully soon after.

Stay focused.

On Perception and Observation

These should not be skills.

I was a big fan of these types of skills for a long time (roll intelligence + perception, roll your spot, roll your observation check), till I listened to someone else play in a system with these skills.

"Roll your search," *clatter*, "You don't see any traps," "I open the door," "There's a room," "I search it for treasure and traps," "Roll your search," *clatter* "You don't see any treasure or traps," "I search the doors," "Roll your search," *clatter*, "you don't see any traps, the door is locked," "I unlock it," "Roll your open locks," *clatter*.

Is this fun?

I can come up with several objective reasons why it *isn't* fun.
First is the issue of spotlight time. Either one person has the search skill only (or has trapfinding, let's say) and dominates table time and yet all they are doing is rolling their skill over and over (see the second point). Or *everyone* has the perception-type skill and feels forced to train it over and over because of how important it is. In a system like 3.5 it becomes a skill sink on the non-thief characters; in non-level-based skill systems like Hackmaster, they spend all their time training it until it's up to an unreasonable percentage.
Second, the player has no input on the gameplay. The only time their decision making comes into play (their choices, or 'fun') is when they are leveling and they make the choice to increase the skill. After that it's just rolling at the table every time the DM wants to find out if you can see something.

Now, maybe some people enjoy using dice to reach a statistical mean while six people sit around waiting for something to happen. Maybe your game is a complex combat simulation where you go from fight to fight to fight in the course of an evening. I could see it being useful in both these situations.

I'll have three to six fights a night (sometimes as many as ten or twelve). we generally play for about seven hours, and we rarely spend more than two hours in an evening fighting. (And that was for a melee with around 100 participants. We've had 2 other long combats against groups of undead who don't fall down and die and can't be turned). Mostly we spend adventuring, exploring, and role-playing.

Here's the most important point I think. You don't need this skill. Either you tell them the information because you want them to know it, or you wait for them to look for the information. The whole play of the game is wrapped up in the interaction this skill serves to eliminate. "But what if they don't think of where to look?" "How will they know the trap is there?" Let me repeat myself.

The whole play of the game is wrapped up in the interaction this skill serves to eliminate.

It is the players job to notice these things. Take the Find Traps skill - it still exists in my game. We use it very much like a savings throw. The players tell me how they are moving throughout the environment, what precautions they are taking, etc. Then I describe what happens. They often prod ahead of them with a 10' pole, and they move slowly, mapping and examining around for traps. There was a flaming gas vent trap they avoided. . .

"The hallway ahead looks darker."
"Wait, why does it look dark?"
"You don't know."
"I check out the walls and floor, prodding ahead with the pole."
"You notice that the walls and floor appear to have dark stains on them."
"What kind of stains, I rub my finger along them."
"You see that the walls are covered in soot."
"I look closer on the tops and bottoms of the walls ahead."
"In the darkness you see several vents."
"We go the other way."


"Roll your search/observation/perception"
"I got a 17"
"Flaming jets burn you"


"Roll your search/Observation/perception"
"I got a 27"
"You find a trap"

There is a strong movement in modern systems away from the deathtrap. You know why? Because the players don't have any control of the game. In the way I run my game, if a player runs into a death trap it's because they did something stupid. Not because of random chance.

On an Update

We again had several players not show up, which explains why there was no session post this week. The reason there weren't any blog posts is that I've been picking up extra hours at work.

Last night when I had the chance to write a blog post, I instead finished my piece for the next issue of Fight On! I'm not certain it'll be usable, but I hope it is.

Things should return to normal shortly.

On Dump Stats

One of the most irritating things - my largest pet, in my collection of peeves, if you will of modern games is the non-representation of statistics.

Every intelligence based caster has an intelligence statistic of 20+. Is that because they are all super-geniuses? No. It's because characters are created with point buy, or arrange to taste, and spell saves are based off of your intelligence modifier. Your stats are completely disconnected from your character.

But wait! you say. It's true that certain skills could be modified so that you are less good at those skills. And at low levels, this could actually affect your play experience. But as a by product of the infinite scaling of the d20 system, any skill you aren't putting points into at every level, becomes outclassed as you hit the higher levels.

The advantage of old school "3d6 down the line, statistics are where they stick" is that they authentically describe a real person. If you have an intelligence of 6, this means you are actually retarded, limited in the number of languages you can receive (and in Hackmaster, crippled in your skill acquisition). In 3rd edition, you have a -3 penalty to skill checks based off of intelligence. If you don't cast, this is the only limiting factor easily offset by the expenditure of some skill points.

I think it's a problem for me, because of the 'sameness'. There is no mechanical justification or reason in the more modern games to not pump your intelligence up to 24 if you are playing a wizard. There is no mechanical justification for not sacking your other statistics, (i.e. dump stats). Too much depends on this mechanical advantage (every 2 points in intelligence, making it 5% more likely your spells will work). And due to the default creation options, every wizard is a super-genius, instead of a real person with a variety of abilities.

The same can be found in discussions of characters with MAD or how multiple attribute dependency classes are weaker, because there are fewer 'dump stats'.

Well, I run a 1st edition / Hackmaster game, and let me tell you, there are no dump stats, no matter what your class.

Strength: The most important thing that strength does is carrying capacity. I see everyone focused on the plus to hit, or the extra damage - but the real value of strength comes from what you can carry around. Those few extra points of damage in the best case, might buy you a round of combat. It's very very rare that this has any actual impact upon play or the results thereof - and when it does, the issue of choosing to engage in combat was where the real choice was made. But when encumbrance comes up it always has an effect on play. (How are you going to carry those coins? How long are you afloat? How long can you stand there and beat on someone? How fast can you run again?)

Dexterity: Nothing spectacular here, but who doesn't want a lower armor class, and to hit better with missile weapons. Another critical issue with dexterity is the reaction adjustment. Oh, shit, the party is surprised? Well, you're surprised that much less. Considering surprise is the most dangerous part of an encounter, the most likely way for players to die, this can be critical.

Constitution: Again, having an average constitution is fine, but no one would call it a dump stat. Extra hit points, and increased survival chances from system shocks. Also, this is a major factor in your resistance to disease or alcoholism.

Intelligence: This represents the number of languages it is possible for you to know. This is a critical feature in my games. Also, in Hackmaster, it represents you chance to learn skills. Magic-Users needed this stat to determine the number of spells they could know per level, and their chance to learn spells. I think it's worth pointing out that this statistic allows someone to be an effective magic-user without being 18+. A magic user with an intelligence of 10 can cast spells up to 5th level, and know 7 spells of every level. An intelligence of 13 (above average) is needed to avoid spell failure chance.

Wisdom: This statistic in Hackmaster determines your % chance when you check a skill for that skill to automatically increase. If you're not playing a cleric, high or low values can affect your magical defense adjustment.

Charisma: This is the single most important statistic in old school play. Often derided as useless or without point, called the original dump stat - it is in fact the most crucial. It determines how many henchmen you may have and their loyalty. If you have a 17 in Strength, you may hit 15% more often and do an extra four or five points of damage. If you have a 17 Charisma, you get your attack and then your ten henchmen each get their attacks. Which will have a larger effect on combat?

Again, I point out that these aren't abstract combat statistics as they are in the later editions of the game. The reason I feel that the later editions have statistics that aren't representative of the characters is that the statistics almost exclusively affect combat orientated things. The above numbers do affect many things that affect combat, but not all.

They are representative of the capabilities of the character - who they are as a person.

Interestingly enough, reviewing  "Men & Magic" I discover that more text is devoted to the effects of charisma then any other statistic.

Session Fourteen

Murder, fight, slay, kill!
Wards and traps, Hydra Surprise!
Finally, Victory.

Tonight was marked by two notable events. First, I had three players not show up. Second, it was the first time I put of the screen and was more secretive and less helpful about what the players should do, and really made an effort to just react to what they did do.

The players not being there was a minor hiccup, the game was a lot more relaxed with just three people instead of six. I think four is a really good size. I'd like it if players could just come when they liked, and not feel constrained to show up to every session cause they have to. They seem to be having a good time. I was worried for a bit, but then was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly everything went.

I also think I did a bit of a better job not speaking so much. I did mention some things I feel in retrospect I should have been quiet about. But overall, there were several things they could have interacted with that I did not have fully prepared, and I just went ahead and described them as if they were there. I finally feel confident enough in my abilities to prepare on the spot something spontaneous for them, since I've been back in the saddle for two years now. :-) This week, I will begin preparing an 'unexplored environment package' to help facilitate this process, as well as reorganizing my folder and my ability to identify things on the map.

One of the things I mentioned had to do with the obscene number of henchmen the party is carrying around. Now this is traditionally a good idea, the problem is that each player wants to bring every henchmen along. I posted about it on Dragonsfoot, (WARNING PLAYERS: SPOILERS here), where I got a number of good replies. Most assumed that I'm not doing it by the book when in fact I am - they are paying their upkeep, giving them appropriate shares - the consequences of being broke and taking forever to level are just starting to hit home with them now. If they don't start leaving some of their extra bodies behind, they may find them leaving due to the limited amount they are being paid, along with decreased loyalty and failed morale checks.

So the party set out from the Lizard-man village of the Hightide Fen Clan, Spiritspyre the boarman cleric, Zeltara the currently deaf, elven, beastmaster gladiator, his mount Null, the silver drake, and his aide Kalen, and Aroldo Venti and his loyal whipping gnome Niles, the illusionist thief.  Their goal was to retrieve the treasure left in the Mabden Treasure Cache (referenced here).

They headed out across the lake, and saw several drifting stony platforms, which they avoided. Exiting along the northern shore, they moved east, until it began to thunder (determined randomly using the weather tables) so they decided to seek shelter in an old abandoned watchtower. While passing this way before the Lizard-men guides mentioned that it was haunted. There were several destroyed buildings, and an entrance up to the watchtower. In the courtyard there was a damaged statue, with it's hand raised up in salute, missing it's head and other arm. It had a pattern of scars on it's chest, and wore a carving of woolen pants, tied with a string.

They entered the watchtower and saw a mural of this same creature, which they could now see had a shaven head of a panther. They climbed the stairs and entered the open air top of the watchtower, and set up camp in the middle. I mentioned at this point the platform had a spiral staircase, but I believe the players thought I was referencing the original staircase they climbed up, so they chose not to investigate it.

Surely at the strike of midnight the Nhadragh Skeletons spirits rose from the dead, climbing the spiral staircase and catching the players. They in fact were not surprised, but on the engagement distance, they rolled poorly and they started 20' away.

The fight was vicious and brutal. Several criticals were taken. Kalen received a terrible critical hit to the back of the head, shattering his basilar process of the Occipital bone, knocking him down. He fell, unconscious at -1 hit point. Aroldo cast Summon Monster I twice, summoning Ork-kin Bandits, and Corpse Skinks, filling the battlefield with blockers.

Six rounds later they managed to defeat their opponents. Kalen was close to death, hovering at -7 hit points. They did not want to use any cure spell less then a Cure Critical, because that would end up leaving him with permanent penalties and damages. They needed to stop the bleeding. Only having access to first aid, not healing, they had to staunch the blood flow by cauterizing the wound. This however also causes damage to the patient. A successful skill check was made and the damage was rolled, A 4! penetrating and getting a 3 for 6 total damage. And thus Kalen died.

They rested eight more hours and then prepared their spells. In the morning they examined the spiral staircase and found a 60' diameter chamber filled several feet deep with the bones of the dead Nhadragh. Something terrible had happened here. They again set out east.

They encountered a Hydra, which left them well enough alone. Not satisfied with this, they attacked it, and after getting in a round of attacks, they paralyzed it with Null's breath and made short work of it. They traveled on to the Mabden Cache. Reaching it, they gathered up the easily potable treasure, most importantly the ancient image art worth an incalculable fortune. Though heavy, they were determined to drag it to the boarman city.

They traveled north, and barring a bit where they became lost, they managed to reach the city on the shores of the s-shaped lake, where we ended for the night.

Normally I'd stop there, but I wanted to say, it'll be interesting to see next week when the rest of the party attempts to make the same journey, if they will make the same decisions.

On Secrets and Spoilers

We had several of our players not show up this week.Because they may cover some of the same ground as the players that were here this week, I'm going to write the session fourteen post, but not post it till next Sunday when I will post it up at the same time as session fifteen.

Just know it was a lot of fun! :-)

On Party Alignment

There are minor alignment spoilers for my group below, read at your own risk. The process for calculating the following involves adding each persons level, charisma reaction adjustment, and alignment modifier together. Then, Chaotic and Evil values are made negative. Then the totals for law/chaos and good/evil are added excluding neutral values to get a numerator. Then the totals are calculated as absolute values to get denominators. Then you divide out the fraction and check a table to find the party alignment.

The point of all this was that I was convinced that the party had a lawful evil drift, and it turns out, the party is straight up neutral. This might have to do with the extreme numbers of wildly divergent alignments. Right now external pressures are keeping these things in check, but once those (eventually) disappear,  there will certainly be some conflict.

Numerator total for LAW/CHAOS =  29
Denominator total for LAW/CHAOS = 93
Numerator total for GOOD/EVIL= -17
Denominator total for GOOD/EVIL = 97

LAW/CHAOS is .31182
GOOD/EVIL is -.17525

Checking table 4A in the GMG, the party alignment is true neutral (with a drift towards lawful and evil).

If you just take the actual PC's, you end up with (22/51)(-13/52)
LAW/CHAOS is .43137
GOOD/EVIL is -.25
Leaving the party with a group alignment of lawful neutral (with an evil drift)

The table is quite simple. Anything over .33 is Lawful, anything under -.33 is Chaotic. Anything between is neutral. The same is for Good and Evil.

On a Failure of Perspective

Cyclopeatron in this post pointed me to this announcement.

Dear Wizards of the Coast:
Dungeons and Dragons is a niche product, that has had it's heyday. It has enough exposure that people who are interested in it have checked it out. The people that want to play it are playing it. You will never make money off of it, the way you can make money off of Magic: The Gathering.

I have a huge stack of materials that even if nothing were ever published again, I could keep playing forever. You look silly in your new hat,

On Death and Dying

So, there's a question on my favorite arrogant, narcissistic, 'love to hate it' blog The Tao of D&D about the role of the church, and more specifically how raise dead / resurrection affects the standing of the church in fantasy society.

It seems pretty clear to me that Alexis doesn't have much experience with the health care field.  I've had these same questions (when I was 14) about how this spell worked and about how it fit inside a actual representation of medieval society. I've come to terms with them long ago. (jab, jab, poke, poke)

First, it must be understood that it's necessary for the game. In every edition, by the time you reach a level where encounters have a regular chance of killing you raise dead appears. In Pathfinder, the spell appears as soon as the math shows you start losing party members from average distribution of damage. In earlier editions, it's when players regularly start running up against things that have multiple save or die attacks. It's necessary to have the spell, because without it campaigns would end at higher levels from the death of everyone involved.

To this point, the general thrust of the discussion seems to be ways to make the cleric 'pay' to 'balance' raise dead. I think what the post and responses (which are clearly designed to encourage discussion) are missing is actually looking at what the spell does, and realizing that we can do it today.

The spell returns life to a dead body. It doesn't fix anything, heal wounds (beyond a few points of damage), or resolve any current social conflicts and it has a failure chance and a limited time frame in which to be cast. Specifically this means there has to be a body in reasonable condition, it can't die from natural causes (because they would just kill it again if it were raised), it has to be fresh and not around anyone who, say, would just murder it all over again.

I think what many people fail to recognize about our medial system is that when a person is in a hospital, we basically have the option of keeping their body living indefinitely. (Anyone who's ever called a 'slow code' just so you don't have to deal with the resurrection (sic) of the body can relate to how frustrating this can be). Certainly there's an issue with it not always working (System shock/Resurrection survival), and it gets harder as they get sicker (-1 constitution every time it happens), and it's very, very, very, very, expensive.

The change it makes in society aren't an enigma, because they are ours. Longer life span, control of diseases, antitoxins/antiserums, the changes are the ones that we are familiar with. It makes a society look like our society.

There is a factor of having the 'church' being in charge of the whole thing is a somewhat minor point, driven by the polytheistic nature of the fantasy setting. I haven't even begun to address the class/level rarity issue - Learning to be a doctor in our society takes a minimum of 12 years of school (4 college, 2 post grad, 4 doctorate, 2 residency), and it changes who they are. It takes over their whole life. You need (approximately, depending on your gaming system) a fifth level cleric for the basic medical spells, cure disease, cure blindness/deafness, and a ninth level cleric for raise dead. These are available in most large communities, just like doctors. But they are not common, and they require a large infrastructure and support system so that they can do their job.  This, again, is similar to our current system. The costs are high, but cheaper in a fantasy realm then they are in reality. Even if you equate 1gp=20$ a hospital stay runs you a minimum of five thousand dollars a day just for lying there.

This doesn't necessarily address resurrection, which I've never had to deal with on a regular basis. However checking the game system I run, I see that it requires a 14th level cleric (over 1.35 million experience). I tally up experience and hand it out like the game says to do. It's a long road to 1 million experience - a long road just the quarter million you need to reach name level. It would take about 1 year of real time on average to reach name level, and about half a year for every level after that. So even for those 14th level clerics that exist, I imagine they are busy doing something besides helping their local communities. And if a PC cleric reaches that level? They earned it, let them resurrect away. I also note that resurrection has a substantial aging cost, limiting the number of resurrections the cleric can perform.

Again, would this make any changes to the way society functions? Not really. your average constitution gives a 75% chance this spell will work on you which gets worse every time it happens, it doesn't do anything if you screwed up your body (burned up, bashed head open, ruined liver, old). Sadly, much like modern day, just handing over the house to the church guarantees nothing. Also, people still fear pain.

Another interesting factor is that they have proof of an afterlife. Remember, raising only works on those souls that are willing, so how many people are going to want to leave heaven once they get there?

As far as handing money over to the players with no effort, I sympathize with Alexis. I have similar problems with my group. Given the option, they would spreadsheet earn their way to system mastery. I just use my infinite resources as a DM to make sure the rug of stability keeps getting yanked out from under them (in fair, sand-boxy, natural consequence, type ways) to keep them on the road to adventure!

Edit: Just a note added to point out that The Tao of D&D is one of the few blogs I've bothered to go back and read all of the posts. I agree a great deal with many of Alexis's posts, his thinking on many issues. He's also an excellent writer. I will continue to read and think about his blog posts. I will also continue to taunt him. :-) I wouldn't bother if it weren't an excellent blog.

On time off

Posting has been light because we've taken the last two weeks off from gaming. Not having a game really changes the character of life. The days seem to blend together. There's no end or beginning to anything.

There's a game this Sunday I need to prepare for. It even looks like it might happen (my preperation).

I'll be glad to get back to it.
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