Two things that divide opinions are gunpowder and psionics. I knew a player once who was strongly opposed to gunpowder weapons and having them in game caused problems off-game. And AD&D 2nd edition broken psionics created lot of bad blood against psionics in general, for future edtions too.
I allow gunpowder weapons. Since Greyhawk has a god of magical technology AND gnomes, I feel it's fair. Of course Gary Gygax didn't allow use of gunpowder in Greyhawk, but since later on he allowed Murlynd to be elevated to godhood, it changed things IMO. But generally I make muskets so ridiciously hazardous to use, that they don't throw things off balance. No (sane) army in the setting use them as baseline weapons. I never use enemies with access to guns.
Psionics are must for me. I feel that in 3.5 they are much more balanced then magic. I'm a big fan of psionics and since Greyhawk is home to many psionic creatures, I feel it's totally called for to have psions, wilders and soulknives. In previous edtions things were bit.. ehhh... different.
First on the whole gunpowder thing anyone useing better hope they dont ever go up against a mage with a fireball or a druid with heat metal. The outcome will be bad for whoever is useing gunpowder. I'm sure an inventive dm can find a way around that.
A friend of mine is dming a game (3.5 version) where the psionicist uses several feats and builds his movement to an insane speed then uses iron body, and performs a human bullet routinue. Unfortunately its all legit under 3.5 rules, so I told him just build a monk/assassin or monk and eliminate the problem. Considering that monks are so annoying for a dm as well as psion's.
For me it's more of a story/genre thing. For me the various psionic classes just don't fit into Greyhawk very well, nor does the idea of musket-packing player characters. Neither gunpowder nor psionics create the atmosphere I'm going for, so generally I ignore them. However, I do like to shake things up from time to time, and Murlynd has long been a favorite of mine since 'back in the day,' so I have included both, but primarily in the hands of NPCs. On the few occasions that I've allowed psionics or guns to fall into the hands of PCs there have been strictly limited supplies or other strictures to keep them from becoming a big part of the game.
With psionics, I only allow core WotC stuff from the XPH.
With guns, I actually went through four or five different takes on this. The end result being weapons with high damage, high crit range and multipliers, very short missile range, and nearly prohibitively expensive.
I wanted blackpowder around for story elements. The players dabbled with it at first, but now they just dip into it for window dressing.
I am a strident opponent of gunpowder as it is counterproductive to the fantasy atmosphere. As for psionics; I discourage them for players because for much of the time the system was imho broken and was simply reduced to another albeit complicated unecessary spell list so for players they are exceedingly rare.
However I have embraced psionics for NPCs more for the sake of atmosphere and to provide a bit of a wild card challenge for the players to freshen up a stale game but even that use often remains limited to such creatures like mind flayers.
Last edited by Crag on Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:02 am; edited 1 time in total
As long as I live, I'll always be dead set and opposed to firearms on Oerth. To my mind, guns simply don't work the way they do in the real world. Neither do oil or steam power for that matter-oil can burn to burn trolls, but you'll never be able to power an engine with it. Steam can scald your enemies, but you'll never be able to use it to propel anything.
Such industrialization damages the fantasy atmosphere I'm going for. For all intents and purposes, Greyhawk as I see it is technologically frozen. A thousand times a thousand years from now, man will still be wielding broadswords and wearing plate armor in combat, he will still be reliant on horses, windmills, bodies of water and his own musclepower for everything from transport to powering those machines that exist, and he will never learn to fly without using magical means.
Nations rise and fall, social mores change, and magic changes and grows, but technology is always the same. Guns will never work, the steam and internal combustion engines will never come to pass, and brute musclepower is what powers the world's industry.
As for psionics, they're allowed but they tend to be very rare. Most often they're the province of alien creatures like mind flayers and aboleths, and are rarely present in humans or demihumans.
I never played with psionics. I started with 2e, and psionics was poorly put together in that one, and I simply never tried with 1st edition. In the end, though, I look at it like just another spell list. It is a matter of taste to me.
Gunpowder is far more challenging. Smart and educated players will quickly realize the potential for gunpowder, and not just that it gives them a slightly wider range of expensive missile weapons to choose from. Gunpowder weapons completely upset the social and political order of any medieval technology society (dissertation time)...
1). Arrow power increases linearly, firepower exponentially. If one character in a party has a musket, he just has a slow, awkward, dangerous, crossbow. If twenty guardsmen with muskets corner the characters... well, we've all seen how Butch Cassidy ended.
2). Combined arms. Musket tactics in the 16th and 17th century (most relevant to AD&D firearms) did not see muskets repalce other weapons, but they complemented them. However, this required a great deal more coordination on the battlefield; professional armies are the next logical step, which in turn leads to...
3.) Castles are no longer casltes. Medieval style castles can be breached in mere days with a siege battery, at little risk to the assailants. Castles don't vanish, but they become not much more than homes for the landed nobles who have lost their bargaining power with the state. Belvor would no longer have to take guff from the southern nobles. A few breaches in a wall, and they would fall into line quickly. The type of forts that can withstand artillery, at least for a while are Vauban-style fortifications, and those require a lot more time, energy, and money to construct than a high wall. So much for soaring walls and towers, these are squat, angluar structures with low bastions, ditches, and nothing even resembling a tower.
4.) God made man, but Col Colt made us equal. A longbowman or knight takes a lifetime to train. A musketeer takes a few weeks. Despite the upfront capital cost, everyone will quicky realize that they have a new source of recruits, while the lower classes realize they have a new source of leverage. Most of the WoG was in come form of serfdom as I recall. Once you introduce muskets, the social contract would be altered.
I think that CruelSummerLord had the best idea, simply freezing the laws of physics like S.M. Stirling did in his books.
In some respects, the issue almost becomes moot when you consider how much easier it is to produce magic items from 3E onwards, particularly when it's deliberately assumed that the players have a certain amount of magic at any given point in their careers. Magic shops become a much more integrated part of the default setting, as many players assume they can simply walk into a shop and order whatever they want.
Aside from the notion that very few magic items even seem to have any kind of drawbacks anymore (compared to previous editions, when many magic items were hedged with various restrictions and drawbacks that players had to take into account), what bothers me is that you could essentially have what amount to guns in the setting. What's to say you couldn't just go out and buy a large collection of magical wands for your troops? Why bother to go to all the trouble training archers and mounted knights when you can just give everyone the tools to cast flurries of magic missiles and fireballs?
Hence why I prefer the older, stricter magic item creation rules of 1st and 2nd Edition. The more powerful the item you wanted to create, the more hoops you had to jump through, and you needed to be capable of casting 8th level spells if you ever hoped to create a permanent item. When players found or created magical items, it was something special. Players could, would and should learn to appreciate what they can find, as it should be noted that many NPCs would never acquire any such items at all.
If any players protested, I'd point out to them that the villains would have to jump through just as many hoops to obtain any of their own magical trinkets. Sure, the Big Bad Evil Guy might like to have a +3 suit of plate mail and a +5 two-handed sword, but even groups like the Boneheart or the Scarlet Brotherhood can't just manufacture or obtain as many magical items as they'd like, and they have to learn to make do with what they have. Besides, it'd be a fun challenge as a DM to see if I could still pose a threat to the PCs if my own resources are limited...
I enjoyed your historical commentary. However, with the heavy use of magic and the excellent notion made by CruelSummerLords about magic shop, any such arguments against gunpowder are a bit off.
D&D is beningly unrealistic about gunpowder weapons, because they need Exotic Weapon Proficiency and they are so insanely expensive and only marginally stronger than bows. It becomes little bit of a joke really.
But to tell you the truth, I've never imagined canons. That was an excellent point really. However, with my über-deadly "natural 1 and gunpowder weapon explodes"-rules this is hardly a problem. A castle or two might fall to the ridicolously expensive canons, but with that cost you could just a buy a wand of fireballs or something like this. Or summon gigantic monsters to throw rocks.
Like JHSII pointed out, just keep magic more readily usable than gunpower, and the problem is solved. Muskets and such are just overly expensive and low-powered, nothing more than fancy crossbows and alchemist fires. And I guess the same goes with canons too. This is the world of hit points.
gun powder is inert on my version of Oerth. psionics can be found, but it is just another form of 'magic' and follows all the same rules and restrictions there of (is dispelable, doesn't work in anti-magic shells/fields, and so forth) and is much rarer (at lest for non-monsters to possess).
psionics, incarnum, Tome of Magic, warlocks, Heroes of Horror, and most of the 3.5e supplements... Yes
Granted, that's mainly because my past two games have been set beneath the surface of the sea. However, the deep-dwelling water dwarves, a red-skinned chemosynthetic race that dwells near hydrothermal vents and uses the black smokers to forge calciferous weapons and armor, have recently discovered ice crystals they call "Frozen Thunder"... methane hydrate. They have not ret refined it's usage, however.
I use the 2E Psionics Handbook (did have limited usage of 1E psionics when my campaign was still 1E), and have had both psionic and psionicist characters (and for those who have never used 2E psionics, yes, there is a difference). There have been aspects of my campaign design plans that could only be unlocked by psionic/psionicist characters, and have therefore been key to some of things I've done.
I allow simple wheellocks and bombards in Wildspace (and other planets/asteroids/whatever), but smokepowder ceases to function on Oerth, and therefore there are no (functioning) firearms on the planet (except for those carried by Murlynd).
Nobody knows why this happens. Some suspect the Greyhawk gods have something to do with it. Some believe that a powerful artifact prevents smokepowder from functioning (and believe that if that artifact could be found and transported off Oerth, firearms would begin to function).
Yet others believe that it is some sort of natural "interference" caused by the presence of special materials within the planet unique to Oerth that prevent its functioning. Perhaps oerthblood or some other similar material is responsible. A few sages are attempting to collect large enough amounts of their favorite suspicious substances to attempt off-world experiments. (They will of course require experienced escorts to protect them and their very valuable cargo during these wildspace experiments, not to mention the collection of such material in the first place.)
Murlynd is not telling how he manages to do what he does.
I take your point, and CruelSummerLords' about the magic shop... talk about making magic banal though. However, I think part of the problem is how AD&D (up through 2nd edition at least) modeled firearms.
With firearms, if you rolled the maximum damage you simply rolled again and again until you didn't. True, it made it possible to deal extremely high damage rolls, but this made little sense. The power of firearms wasn't their ability to do a great amount of damage (though they generally did a lot more tissue damage than an arrow) but to penetrate armor. Battlesystem actually had a good mechanic for this... as the range decreased, the protection provided by armor against firearms also decreased... at short range, even the most heavily armored knight was essentially in shirtsleeves. I actually think this was a better model than what ended up in the player's handbook.
I still think in a certain sense, a cannon would make more since than a guy with a wand... what good is a fireball against stone (I think lightning actually did some damage). A cannon is a replacable machine. Sure, it is expensive, but how expensive is a wizard? The barrel may blow, but the wizard might quit, or worse, turn on you.
Greyhawk to me always had a lot of magic, but it was not necessarily in the form of a wizard under every rock (that was Forgotten Realms). The idea of magic stores actually makes my stomach churn (that or the tacos). So, in my mind, magic, while not unknown, was rare and expensieve enough that an imperfect substitute would easily be embraced.
As was posted earlier in the thread, I too am a largely 1E DM. On these two subjects I weigh in as follows:
1. Gunpowder: For PCs and/or widespread use - Nope. For extremely rare beings like quasi deities (i.e. Murlynd) - yes. (And it will be a frosty Friday in all 9 Hells before a player can get their hands on one of his six-guns.)
2. Psionics: Yup. Everyone who creates a character in my campaign follows the rules given in the 1E PHB for checking psionic ability. Numerous monsters from the MM1+2 and FF have psionics. I use 'em for the critters so PC's should have a chance to as well, small though said chance might be.
As a player, I have run one psionic character in my life - a fluke roll of 100% on a low-Wisdom PC during character generation back in 1993. (Rolled in front of my DM no less and we were both googly-eyed in astonishment when the % dice came up 000.)
I have since adopted his approach to running psionics for PC's as well - he rolled up my character's sciences and devotions in secret. Reeve was a guttersnipe from Prymp, with no real schooling or intellectual pursuits. So, of course, he had no clue about the nature or existance of his "wild talents" at the beginning of his adventuring career.
My DM had the abilities start showing themselves gradually over time, usually in life-threatening/highly stressful situations, similar to the idea of a near-death experience: "Oh look, the orc has scored 5 damage, nearly turning Reeve into thief chutney. (Evil grin and shuffling of papers.) Since you are at 1 hit point and bleeding, let's see if anything funky happens to him this time." (Ulp.)
To learn about Reeve's abilities I had two routes - trial and error or consult sages. The first was risky and the second expensive. Either way, it was actually a considerable challenge to manage and learn what psionics could do. That added to the game (and the fun), as you can imagine. _________________ <div>Braggi, Swain and Varlet at Large<br /></div>
I usually force stuff like this on my players in small doses, actually. Make them roleplay not knowing what the hell they just found. Many times i have had players accidentally develop a single psionic, as well.
Admittedly, I allowed firearms without thinking about the larger campaign-changing repercussions. This is what I did do:
First, I thought about the tech-level of Oerth. Oerth's tech-level always struck me as early 16th century Earth. So, in keeping with that analogy, I introduced match-lock muskets. Muskets have -3 to-hit and ignore the first five points of AC. A natural 1 indicates a problem: a d4 is rolled, 1, the gun blows up, 2 and 3 there is a misfire, and a 4 indicates a slow burn. After 4 rounds of continuous fire there is enough smoke that there is a continuous -1 to-hit, and the crit fail increases by 1 each round (to allow for overheating). I am using the Hackmaster ruleset, which is a variation of 1E/2E.
The campaign balance for it is availability and permits. There are many places in the Flanaess where the local lords don't want armed individuals walking about. Even few who'd want gunpowder and firearms to be sold on the open market. So, limiting their availability is not an issue.
Also, only one player has really taken to wanting a firearm. The others don't really care.
As for psionics. That is another area where my characters don't pay much attention, or don't seem to give a hoot. Granted, since they're not playing psions, I'm not constructing psionic encounters either.
Considering that they are both present in the history of Greyhawk somewhere, I have thrown my lot in with Gygax and his lot and kept them in. Many years ago I sat at a gaming convention here in Houston and listened to him tell the story of a campeign he ran wherein the main antagonist was a dwarf who was annoying and possed to items in particular that struck me as funny.
Boots of Speed...
And a canon.
I would like top point out that I also find it amusing that people are posting on a website called canonfire that they do not allow cannons in their games. Yes I know the difference between cannons and canon but come on, its a pun people!
I like to throw both in my game as the objects of quests. I also like having things that are strange and mysterious besides magic items. A lot of my games have revolved around sacred herbs used for medicinal cures and ancients tomes of secrets that explained the mysteries of the Ancient Suel or the vanished Baklunish kingdoms. Those tomes contained things like how to build water screws or one game that was never actually run (but thinking about it now I may do so) involved finding out a means of gearing water wheels.
Economics and technology are features important in Greyhawk. Always has been. Theres how many crashed space ships? Or the Robots? Or the laser guns? Or what about the dude that went to boot hill and came back with six shooters? I seem to remember something about a tank someone had hidden somewhere as well and in the Greyhawk Adventures book there is a sunken clippership. A clipper would cause more disruption then a gun ever would because clippers are some of the fastest sailing vessels ever built and as soon as they start building those the entire map is opened up.
They players are always supposed to be (in my games at least) the catalyst of change. The technology may be present but its up to the PC's to bring it to fore. I have a harder time dealing with psionics then I do with guns. I'll allow anything but not everything I allow is available in town for purchase or available at the start of the campaign, many things must be earned.
I used to have everyone roll for psionics in 1E. That is until somebody rolled really, really well. We had a 5th level paladin running about that killed a Vrock in 8 segments of psionic combat. Holy sword? Nah, he will never need one of those. Overall we didn't like the effect, as it was either non-existent, or led to abilities that were often game breaking- cell adjustment for one. It took little time for me to relegate psionics to only naturally psionic creatures like mind flayers, etc.
In 2E I used the Psionics Handbook, which brought some actual balance to psionicists, but they could still end up being very deadly- especially in the case of dual-classed or multi-classed wizard/psionicists and fighter-psionicists. Accordingly, my players crapped themselves when they first encountered Githyanki/Githzerai. Never again will they underestimate the Gith.
As to 3.5, I have allowed them, but nobody took it upon themselves to play a psionicist of whatever stripe(though there is one NPC with psionics).
Regarding 2E and later editions, I have allowed psionic characters, but they are rare and I have linked the psionic discipline to the ancient cultures of the West, but more so to the Baklunish due to the Xan Yae/Zuoken connection. Those characters who have no such direct cultural link usually learn the discipline from somebody who does have such a link. The practice of the psionic discipline can either originate from the West from a few temples or psionic societies I have located there(i.e. formal training), or be passed down from teacher to student Mr. Miyagi/Karate Kid style. The latter is more common for Eastern characters; especially those of non-Baklunish/Suel background. _________________ - Moderator/Admin (in some areas)/Member -
Last edited by Cebrion on Thu Nov 11, 2010 7:51 am; edited 1 time in total
A quick anecdote regarding the thief PC I ran regarding 1E psionics and potential game balance. (It came back to me after reading Cebrion's post above about the paladin and the Type I demon.)
Reeve eventually picked up some dull gray Ioun stones that helped his psionics quite a bit. However, we were playing in the original Temple of Elemental Evil and we ran into a Vrock in one of the Elemental Nodes. My PC was roboted by the Vrock after a rough exchange of mental combat. This darned near led to the demise of the character before everything was sorted out. He also became psionically injured on another occasion, losing one of his devotions and one of his defense modes (it's been a number of years, so I forget the exact items in question without his character sheet in front of me.) Not to mention that our eventual encounter with Zuggtmoy was not exactly a walk in the park - her psionic abilities were terrifying - as they should have been of course.
I do agree that 1E psionics can be overdone and/or abused - however the perils of things like the previously mentioned misadventures compensate. Additionally, our DM ran the levels of mastery for psionics in "layered" manner. He assigned a base 10% cumulative chance each experience level that I might discover a new devotion or science, with no new psionic abilities discoverable until the one being checked for was known. This allowed the PC to learn his powers very gradually and it gave the DM better control over the game as a whole.
Whenever I discovered a new psionic ability, that became the first level of mastery - so I might be 5'th level of experience as a thief, but only 1st in terms of psionic L.O.M. for a new science/discipline. That was another check-and-balance to prevent the character from becoming too powerful too quickly. I use the same method today and it does help even things out.
I can't see a system like this being necessary for a 2E psioncist, since the class is much more balanced, being devoted entirely to mental discipline and having no other adventuring abilities. (I cannot speak for 3E, never having played it.) _________________ <div>Braggi, Swain and Varlet at Large<br /></div>
If I run Greyhawk in AD&D 2E, I'd probably allow psionics. With B/X or BECMI D&D, I wouldn't bother.
Gunpowder is not really a threat to medieval fantasy, IMO. After all, real world gunpowder is a medieval invention! Effective, accurate, reliable, hand held fireams could be an issue, though. I wouldn't include matchlocks, wheellocks, flintlocks, rifling, corned powder, paper cartridges, etc.
If the 'boomsticks' available are no better than simple handgonnes and cannon of the 14th Century in Christendom, I'd say it's okay.
Then again, there's nothing wrong with restricting non-magical explosives. I could go either way on it.
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