Episode 538 - To Splat, or Not pt 1

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Hal
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Episode 538 - To Splat, or Not pt 1

Postby Hal » Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:41 am

I do enjoy splat books, but I have my own problems with them.

First, I find they can be creatively limiting. Splat books mean more rules, and the more rules you have defining things in the world, the less space you have for creativity. A player comes up with some action he wants to do that isn't defined in the rules . . . except it is, and you can't do it because you built the wrong character to be able to do it.

Second, it seems like it can be an excuse for the creators to go light on things that should have been developed for the core rule books. For example, your core rule book contains a bunch of crafting tools the players can buy. Are there rules for crafting? Sure . . . in the splat books. "We wanted to give space for players and GMs to work. We didn't want the core books to be too big." Okay, fine. Your reasons can be understandable and still result in an obnoxious outcome.

That said, I'm playing a tabaxi bard in a 5E game and I love it.
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Re: Episode 538 - To Splat, or Not pt 1

Postby Ahkita » Thu Mar 05, 2020 11:08 pm

I just listened to the episode, and I have opinions.
The examples given seemed to be entirely character things. New classes, new feats, abilities etc are all things that the player brings to the game to make their character "better". What about setting? Is there any splat info that you would discourage a GM from bringing to the game? Is it a bad thing when a GM surprises you with 'this NPC is from a splatbook I said I was disallowing for players'? Is it better when the GM brings this up at the outset? what if they want it to be a surprise? Basically, I'm hoping part two of this is from the player's point of view.

I know this is just personal preference, but, I dislike the use of giant robot games and DnD as the main examples, because they are probably the games I know the least about, especially in regards to splat.

I've never really experienced horrible consequences when using splat books. (exception: one player wanted to do something stupid with magic in W:tA, but that player was awful in general)

Some splat books that i love :
Blood Dimmed Tides, OWod - it brings up more cool enemies from the water and expands rules for swimming and drowning. it also introduced the Merfolk changelings, which I enjoy
All of the changing breed books from Werewolf: the Apocalypse - cuz how do you not love Corax or Anansi?
In that vein, Does Bastet count as splat?
13th precinct, Werewolf Wild West .....
.......
... ok, yes, they're all World of Darkness books. ... oh, oh, there's a Pathfinder book that lets you play Kitsune

oh ps
The Rifter - does this mean Rifts is almost entirely Splat?

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Re: Episode 538 - To Splat, or Not pt 1

Postby clintmemo » Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:24 am

The only time I ever had splat material that was wildly overpowered was articles from Dragon magazine waaaaaay long ago.
Every other time someone has pulled out something that they wanted to use because they thought it was way overpowered (because they wanted to be better than everyone) they were either misinterpreting the rules, interpreting any vagueness in the most advantageous way (to them) as possible, and / or just ignoring any mechanical flaws that character was supposed to have.
I used to run D&D games with everything AND the kitchen sink but I have since learned that sometimes less is more. I'm also at a point where I don't want to deal with the sensory overload of a bunch of different splat books.
Having said that, one thing I would point out is that you can have a game that is about the splat book - ex: use the core rules + sword and fist in a game where most everyone is a fighter or monk. Instead of having a character that is an outlier, have a campaign that is the outlier.
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Re: Episode 538 - To Splat, or Not pt 1

Postby Ikoma » Mon Mar 09, 2020 12:18 pm

Alright, I've listened to both episodes now and feel free to jump in.

First, I agree with Clintmemo, almost every time I run into someone who has a 'broken' combo, it's really that they are missing something in the rules designed to limit the combo. Obviously, there are broken combos on occasion (see Pun Pun, the 3.5e kobold who abuses a MOUNTAIN of splat books to become ridiculously OP) but most of the time, when looking into a complaint, I find the group is either intentionally house-ruling something or is missing a rule and their current dilemma is the consequence. (Note: this applies to me as well. The times I have thought I have found an OP issue, it eventually turns out I was missing another rule or a house-rule I had made was having an unforeseen impact. That said, house-rules are typically there for a reason. And mis-reading a rule that leads to a game you enjoy isn't a bad thing. If splat-books enable things that are broken in the game you are running, then they are the problem and not you (probably). But you can be the solution.

Second, I am all in favor of GMs limiting the books they want to use in their game. Even to the point of removing options from the core books should that fit they world they are trying to create (with the help of their players). As an example, my next campaign is going to be a very dark fairy tale world. As a result, I am making a few core races and classes off limits. They just don't fit the flavor and theme of the world I am building. They absolutely DO fit other D&D worlds so I'm not advocating removing them permanently, just from this particular campaign.

Third, I agree that too many splat books unleashed willy-nilly is the main problem. A book or two adding something specific to the campaign is fine. A book adding to 'A' character is probably fine. Six different books (even including the core books) each adding one or two elements to a character build is where the real potential problem lies. Additionally, if a player just shows up and says they took Spell X from splat-book Y with this latest level up, then I as the GM am going to get nervous. If I want to take something non-standard, I'll give the GM warning, notice, a copy of the book (in one form or another) and the option to say 'no'.

Fourth, WotC can absolutely be part of this problem. The OG Core books are fine and balanced. Unearthed Arcana is a monthly torrent of cool ideas that are literally in the process of being playtested and should be treated that way. If I want to take a UA sub-class, I need to recognize that things may need to adjust when further data has been obtained. But the bigger potential issue is DMsGuild. 99 cents to buy a PDF with a dozen new weapons. And on and on. Which isn't to say you shouldn't use that kind of stuff. But it should be spice, intentionally added to a campaign, rather than just dumped into the stew at random. Dragon and other magazines used to be part of the problem for D&D (and may still be for other games).

Fifth, setting books are not splat-books and should be treated differently. Taking a race out of the Eberon book, mixed with a sub-class out of Ravenloft, a feat out of the Faerun, plus some spells from the new Wildemount book could very easily have unintended interactions. (Or intended interactions if the player's goal is power creep.) Again, different worlds are going to have different feels, different power levels, etc. Something perfectly balanced in one setting might well be unbalanced taken out of that setting. This is the RPG version of invasive species.
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Hal
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Re: Episode 538 - To Splat, or Not pt 1

Postby Hal » Tue Mar 10, 2020 9:21 am

Ikoma wrote:(see Pun Pun, the 3.5e kobold who abuses a MOUNTAIN of splat books to become ridiculously OP)

. . .

Fifth, setting books are not splat-books and should be treated differently. Taking a race out of the Eberon book, mixed with a sub-class out of Ravenloft, a feat out of the Faerun, plus some spells from the new Wildemount book could very easily have unintended interactions. (Or intended interactions if the player's goal is power creep.) Again, different worlds are going to have different feels, different power levels, etc. Something perfectly balanced in one setting might well be unbalanced taken out of that setting. This is the RPG version of invasive species.


I think my favorite instance of that from 3E was the "Locate City" bomb. Basically, it took a very benign spell (Locate City, which does exactly what it says) and turns it into a weapon of mass destruction by applying feats and metamagic until the whole thing cries uncle. All of which stems from poor design in that the spell doesn't have a range, it has an area, which lets it qualify for those metamagics in the first place.
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Re: Episode 538 - To Splat, or Not pt 1

Postby VaMinion » Wed Mar 11, 2020 8:27 am

Hal wrote:I think my favorite instance of that from 3E was the "Locate City" bomb. Basically, it took a very benign spell (Locate City, which does exactly what it says) and turns it into a weapon of mass destruction by applying feats and metamagic until the whole thing cries uncle. All of which stems from poor design in that the spell doesn't have a range, it has an area, which lets it qualify for those metamagics in the first place.


It also exists in a gray area in the rules. I love it as a thought exercise but there's at least one part of that combination that relies on a very specific GM ruling to work.
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Re: Episode 538 - To Splat, or Not pt 1

Postby Ikoma » Wed Mar 11, 2020 10:09 am

VaMinion wrote:
Hal wrote:I think my favorite instance of that from 3E was the "Locate City" bomb. Basically, it took a very benign spell (Locate City, which does exactly what it says) and turns it into a weapon of mass destruction by applying feats and metamagic until the whole thing cries uncle. All of which stems from poor design in that the spell doesn't have a range, it has an area, which lets it qualify for those metamagics in the first place.


It also exists in a gray area in the rules. I love it as a thought exercise but there's at least one part of that combination that relies on a very specific GM ruling to work.


Exactly! And that falls directly under my first observation about this issue.

Man, I've been thinking a lot about this the last couple days... :think: I'm gonna more thoughts to post later today.
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Re: Episode 538 - To Splat, or Not pt 1

Postby Mikel » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:18 am

Hal wrote:Second, it seems like it can be an excuse for the creators to go light on things that should have been developed for the core rule books.


Ah, I see that you, too, have probably read or used 90s era White Wolf games. :)

I like splat books that add more depth to what's already there. I'd rather not have to plunge through 6 different books for rules.
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