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    1. "Dominion of Darkness" - free, narrative driven, RPG/strategy simulator of the Dark Overlord/Lady

      "Dominion of Darkness” is a strategy text game in which the player takes on the role of a Sauron-style Lord of Darkness with the goal of conquering the world. He will carry out his plans by making...

      "Dominion of Darkness” is a strategy text game in which the player takes on the role of a Sauron-style Lord of Darkness with the goal of conquering the world. He will carry out his plans by making various decisions. He will build his army and send it into battles, weave intrigues and deceptions, create secret spy networks and sectarian cults, recruit agents and commanders, corrupt representatives of Free Peoples and sow discord among them, collect magical artifacts and perform sinister plots. Note – one game takes about 1 hour, but the premise is that the game can be approached several times, each time making different decisions, getting different results and discovering something new.

      Game is avalaible for free, online: https://adeptus7.itch.io/dominion

      If you are hesitant to play the game, I invite you to watch/listen to the reviews:

      6 votes
    2. "Twisted Gods" - few RPG concepts for an inspiration

      I invite You to read and discuss, and if You have Your own "twisted gods", feel free to share! In RPG and fantasy, we are often faced with a situation where the existence of gods is an empirically...

      I invite You to read and discuss, and if You have Your own "twisted gods", feel free to share!

      In RPG and fantasy, we are often faced with a situation where the existence of gods is an empirically confirmed fact, rather than a matter of belief. Two extremes can be distinguished in the representation of these entities (note – I do not claim that all creation adopts one of these two extreme points of view). On the one hand – the trend adapted by e.g. most of the settings for D&D – gods are personification of certain values professed by people, not infrequently they are even „born” from the faith of mortals or at least derive power from it/are shaped by it – gods described as „good” are simply good in the conventional sense of the word, they sincerely care about their followers and you know what to expect from them. On the other side, we have motifs that can be considered taken from Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythology – the gods are incomprehensible, distant beings, completely unconcerned with human worldviews and so-called „good and evil”, mostly indifferent to humanity (and if by chance their paths intersect with humanit’s ones, humanity is screwed) – at the same time, it is not uncommon for most mortals to be unaware of their existence, instead worshipping imaginary, more anthropomorphic deities tailored to their emotional needs.

      In this article, I wanted to present deities standing somewhere in the middle – entities whose goals, yes, are not fully understood by mortals, but nevertheless close enough to human morality that worshippers can find some commonality (real or imaginary) with their patrons. These gods are usually directly interested in some way in the lives of their worshipers – although not necessarily in the way those worshipers would like. At the same time, I wanted each description to contain a hook, an important point where the devotees’ understanding of the deity diverges from its real nature – and whose discovery could be a significant twist.

      1. Mother of Peace

      The Religion of the Mother of Peace, or the Cult of Harmony, is a strictly pacifist religion. Strictly and absolutely. No violence is allowed, ever, anywhere, in any situation. If you see a psychopath murdering children with an axe, you have no right to use force to prevent him from doing so. You cannot stun him, disarm him, knock him over, or even grab his arm. At most, you can ask him to stop, try to distract him, or stand up to the blow to give the children a chance to escape. Why do people follow such religion? First, the philosophy appeals to some – in the real world, Gandhi said something like „applying the eye-for-an-eye principle will make everyone blind.” – Followers of Harmony believe that violence begets violence, while peace begets peace. If they consistently turn the other cheek and don’t resist evil, they will stop winding up the spiral of violence and constant revenge and eventually evil will disappear naturally. Second – following the path of Harmony brings concrete benefits. Holy priests, who have long been non-violent, receive healing powers from the Mother of Peace – but they only work on other followers, so the policy of „I do violence, and the pacifist priest of Harmony heals me” is impossible. To use healing, you need to sincerely renounce violence – which, on the one hand, reduces your chances of survival in an encounter with hostile beings, on the other – if you come out of it alive, all your wounds will be healed, plus you gain protection from natural diseases and other threats. Third – the priests of Harmony preach that those who live and die, observing the principle of non-violence, will be taken into the bosom of the Mother of Peace after death, who will give them happiness incomparable to earthly suffering – so it is „profitable” to trade your life in exchange for heavenly pleasures.

      The religion of the Mother of Peace may be perceived differently in society. It is possible that the authorities are avtively against it – it makes the subjects unwilling to fight, which reflects on the combat power of the state. Or perhaps they support it, seeing it as a tool to pacify potential rebels? Ordinary people may regard the Children of Peace as annoying lunatics – or treat them with deep respect. Even if healing powers may not work on „infidels,” after all, the Children may be able to help them in other ways – such as using conventional medicine (while remarking „Join us and you’ll see real miracles!”).

      Well, what is the catch? Yes, the Mother of Peace actually exists. But her goal is by no means to create a utopia where people can live in happiness and peace. Her goal is to weaken the population of a given world/planet/country. When a sufficient portion of the population is transformed into followers of Harmony, for whom the use of violence – even for defense – is unthinkable, and even if it were thinkable, they would became too weak to use it, the time for reaping comes. The True Children of the Mother, hordes of bloodthirsty, voracious creatures, come out to prey and consume the pacified people. The devoured people continue to make prayers to the Mother, who continues to appear from time to time, assuring her followers that this is the final test and whoever perseveres without putting up a fight against the monstrous invaders will be saved.

      During the course of the game, players may encounter followers of Harmony. It would be good for the GM to present them as something more than detached hippies, to make the players start to wonder if they are right. Maybe they’ll come across a reformed bad guy – e.g., a psychopathic follower of the god of murder who massacred a village of Harmonious heretics, but their indomitable will and serenity in the face of death made him convert and join them? Or more life-like – a husband who stopped beating his wife and children and is now an exemplary head of the family? Players can act as defenders of persecuted Harmonists (although this will involve some ambiguity – „Harmonists are decent people, but without people like us, who are not afraid to get their hands dirty, thay would survive”). They can have discussions with the priests about the legitimacy of pacifism. Maybe one of the player characters will start thinking about becoming a Harmonist after his career as an adventurer ends? The more sympathetic players become to the cult of Harmony, the more shocked they will be to discover indications that the Mother of Peace may be a much darker entity than it appears. At first, they may trivialize rumors like „Harmonists are actually a fifth column preparing the world for an invasion by dark forces!” as typical denigration of the new religion by the old clerical establishment. But as time goes by, the evidence will become stronger and stronger… Until finally there will be an invasion of the True Children that the players will have to face. Or maybe they will have the chance to prevent it, and will face the dilemma „Whether to believe the critics of the Harmonists and obstruct the great ritual, which, according to the Harmonists, is supposed to help bring universal happiness, but in fact open the gates of the dark dimensions…. Given that in order to do so, we will have to massacre a crowd of unarmed civilians, including women and children?”

      The Mother of Peace is portrayed by her followers as a goddess with, one can easily guess, maternal qualities. Perhaps even as a pregnant woman? This is a play on the ambiguous nature of this entity – the presumed spiritual mother-protector of the followers of Harmony, and the actual fecundator of the swarm that will consume them. Players may come across disturbing references to „the coming of the True Mother’s Children” in sermons and hymns – priests may (sincerely or not) explain that it’s such a metaphor, that it’s about the era when people truly dedicated to peace will come.

      1. Enemy of Superstition, Destroyer of Magic, Defender of Normalcy

      There are many arguments that are made against magic. It is source of obscurantism, superstition and charlatanism, a way to fool people. It violates the natural order of things. It is the work of demons, leading to possession or by destroying the veil of the worlds to demonic invasion. It is the theft of the power due to the gods, a manifestation of human pride. It distracts people from giving honor due to these gods. It brings madness, sucks the life out of the environment, causes the risk of explosions or other side effects. Leads to inequality, as mages can exalt themselves over ordinary people. Or something.

      Depending on the setting, each of these accusations may or may not be true. But that doesn’t stop the Defender cult from preaching them. Inquisitors and witch hunters roam the world, collecting magical artifacts, books and even arresting anyone who manifests magical talents. No, they don’t burn them at the stake. All items and people associated with magic go to the Bottomless Wells located in temples – supposedly the only way to effectively annihilate them. Importantly, the hunters are ordered to take mages alive if possible and throw them into the wells – supposedly a mage eliminated in the wrong way turns into a wraith, or something like that. Inquisitors are aided in this work by the magic-blocking powers provided by the Defender.

      Witch hunters can be treated by the people as terrifying villains – or as heroes. The reason for the latter attitude is not necessarily solely propaganda and „fear of otherness.” It is possible that the land has actually suffered a lot at the hands of mages – perhaps it has just liberated itself from the rule of an evil sorcerer and his disciples, or it is fighting a fierce battle against a nation that uses magic in a fierce way. It would be worthwhile for players to see some of the negative effects of magic use with their own eyes, so that at the very least they would develop doubts about whether the Defender’s followers are wrong.

      What is the truth? It’s easy to guess that the Defender is not concerned with defending the innocent from witchcraft. But neither is he driven by any other selfish yet high-minded motivations along the lines of „magic takes the glory away from the gods.” The truth is that for the „Defender,” magic is just darn tasty. Bottomless Wells are portals leading directly to his insatiable maw. It’s possible that the founder of the Inquisition managed by some miracle to communicate with this entity and make a pact „I will provide you with food, you will lend me and my disciples your anti-magic powers, which you use to safely digest objects radiating magic – and we will use them to incapacitate mages.”

      What will happen when the players reveal the truth about the Defender? Maybe the inquisitors will be furious that their holy crusade turned out to be nothing more than feeding an inter-dimensional monster, they will turn their backs on their god, to which he will react with rage (not because of his violated dignity or some other irrelevant value, but because of the vision of being cut off from a steady supply of grub), through one of the wells he will enter the world and the players, along with the inquisitors, will have to face him? Or maybe the inquisitors will react with a shrug of the shoulders and the statement „So what if the Defender is not a noble god, but a voracious monster. Magic is still a threat, and he is the best means to eliminate it.” Perhaps, using the method of the cobbler Skuba (Polish legend), players will toss a special object emanating „toxic”‚ magic into one of the Wells, which will poison the Defender?

      1. Truthsayer

      God of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. People swear by his name. He is also worshipped as the god of justice and knowledge, so judges and scholars worship him. Lying brings his curse.

      The Truthsayer doesn’t lie about himself – in fact, he wouldn’t be able to even if he wanted to (and he definitely doesn’t want to). The problem is that the people themselves have sung too much about him. As I pointed out above – he is the god of truth and ONLY truth. Justice does not matter to him, it is a totally foreign concept to him…. If he helps the investigators uncover the machinations of the villains, it is only so that the truth will come out, but he does not care whether the result will be the administration of justice. He might as well help the villains discover the heroes’ forays and subterfuges. As for acquiring knowledge – yes, he assists scholars in their research, in order to reveal the truth. However, if a scholar spins unsubstantiated speculations and hypotheses (which happen to be contrary to the truth), even in good faith – he draws the wrath of the Truthsayer. Simply put, untruths make the Truthsayer suffer. This applies to any untruth. Also fantasy. If the Truthsayer’s followers perform a ritual to increase his presence in the material world, they will bring a terrible calamity. From now on, the curse will fall on actors and poets, on anyone who utters a harmless lie like „You don’t look fat in that clothes,” „I’m not mad at you,” or „I’m on my way out,” as well as anyone who uses deception (no, the Truthsayer doesn’t care about the nobility of the cause – if you put on camouflage to sneak under the headquarters of the bad guys and rescue their innocent hostages, you are a hideous LIAR and deserve to be punished). Bah, people in ordinary conversations must be careful not to use metaphors and phraseological compounds. A Truthsayer may even go so far as to seek to eliminate words like „nice,” „tasty” or „good” – after all, they are subjective, and what is not objective truth, is a LIE.

      Good player characters can help prepare a ritual to summon the avatar of the Truthsayer – after all, „God of Truth” sounds like a decidedly good dude, right? At some stage, they may realize that the world of absolute truth will be something terrible (maybe some conversation with a philosopher?) and try to torpedo the ritual. Maybe they will be able to accomplish this in advance… Or maybe the avatar will already begin to pass into our world? Then they will succeed in playing him off by pointing out the paradox – people summoned him because they believed he was the avatar of goodness, justice and knowledge – if he exploits this ignorance of theirs, he will benefit from lying, and this would be unacceptable. Or a character with an exceptionally high bluffing skill or the like might try to spew a tale so full of lies and absurdities that the avatar of Truth will go berserk just from listening – but a half-hearted success will only enrage him!

      For the Truthsayer, as an antithesis, I would see a god of lies and fantasy – not the typical sinister „Prince of Lies” in the style of the Christian Satan, or some malicious trickster, but a deity whose motto is „Such is the world! A wicked world! Why is there no other world?” (B. Lesmian) or „Be guided in life by such foma (harmless lying) as will give you courage, goodness, health and happiness” (K. Vonnegut), who lies not for some selfish purposes, but because he firmly believes that lying IS GOOD. The real world is cruel and unfair, lying helps to endure it and achieve at least a little happiness – through escapist fantasies, small daily lies „From tomorrow I will take charge of myself and achieve something!” „You look nice”, „Don’t worry, you’re not a failure at all” through big lies like „Good is always rewarded and evil is punished”. In this arrangement, both the god of lies and the god of truth would be morally neutral in practice (both can assist followers in certain situations, but at the same time pose a danger – the god of truth mercilessly punishes anything that is not the absolute truth, the god of lies can entangle you in a web of delusion) – but in theory, it is the liar who is driven by more altruistic motivations and loves mortals.

      1. Prince of Blades, Lord of Sharp Angles and Edges

      Centuries ago, the Prince of Blades was worshipped as a deity of war, or even slaughter. Legends say that he made the claws of his worshippers – and even their teeth and nails – exceptionally sharp and dangerous to enemies. And the legend is true – albeit the Prince was never a god of war. He is the personification – or perhaps the source? – of all sharpness. He doesn’t care about crippling anyone, although that’s mostly a side effect, he just wants things to be sharp. Or rather – in passing, by his very existence, he makes them so?

      Let’s say there is a place where strange phenomena occur. Babies are born with long and exceptionally sharp claws and fangs. Swords and axes made by local blacksmiths are famous for their exceptional sharpness (maybe the player characters just came here to get their hands on them?). Why go. There is a temple of the Prince underground, and its influence radiates to the surface. Cultists come to the town to unearth it – they believe in the Prince in his aspect of the god of war and believe that this will help them triumph over their enemies. When they realize their goal, they are met with a surprise. The cultists are transformed into living avatars of sharpness. Invisible blades cut them so as to eliminate all contortions (a head clipped to a cube is not a pleasant sight), their hands turn into scythes, and in their brains all thought of their own is replaced by a single imperative – cut! What’s more, the Prince’s influence is more and more visible in the neighborhood – everything becomes sharper. The most visible effect from a mechanical point of view is that all weapons (edged weapons to a slightly lesser extent, but also) deal more damage. But as the influence increases, even rubbing clothes against skin starts to be painful, then every touch hurts, until finally the very movements of air cut the skin. If players don’t close the temple, the effects can be really nasty. It is possible that earlier players encountered a strange artifact – a sponge ball. If they didn’t get rid of it, it will turn out to be a „statue” of Our Soft and Oblique Lady, the opposite of the Prince, which what him will mitigate the effects of opening the temple. The battle will take place not between good and evil, order and chaos, or other abstract constructs, but between Sharpness and Softness.

      1. Mistress of Natural Instinct

      A goddess of wildlife, her followers preach the need to return to a life in harmony with nature and reject the defiling influence of civilization. Oh, it would seem – another „mother Gaia” with a pseudo-ecological cult. The thing is, the Lady is not at all measured by the fact that people are poisoning rivers and cutting down forests, as her followers believe. What she doesn’t like is that they are rational. Reason, consciousness, morality, are evolutionary dead ends. They only multiply pain and suffering. Do animals – much less plants – waste time and resources on some foolishness like art? Do they risk their lives and the lives of others for abstracts like honor? Do they suffer from offended dignity, boredom or lack of meaning in life? People simply combine too much to be happy. The return to nature is not primarily about rejecting technology (although that will probably be a side effect of it), but liberating people from the unnecessary baggage of excess thoughts. Let them become like animals – free, innocent and amoral. This is the purpose of the Lady, which is not grasped (possibly except by the high priests) by her followers. Yes, during ecstatic rituals some of them fall into a trance, during which they walk on all fours, howl and growl. And the priests are able to bring this trance on their enemies… But are the followers ready to accept the truth that, according to the will of their mistress, this is how life should be, forever?

      Rest of the book is avalaible here, for free: https://adeptus7.itch.io/twisted-gods

      5 votes
    3. Do you think there will be a "Baldur's Gate Effect?"

      There have been a lot of complaints from DMs over the years about Critical Role and the "Matt Mercer Effect" causing new players to have unrealistic expectations of tabletop RPGs. Baldur's Gate 3...

      There have been a lot of complaints from DMs over the years about Critical Role and the "Matt Mercer Effect" causing new players to have unrealistic expectations of tabletop RPGs. Baldur's Gate 3 has the opportunity to introduce many new players to the d20 system/5e DnD specifically. Though it's a bit different in that the game is obviously scripted and you can't do literally anything, the game provides a ton of options and fleshed out paths, including full support of niche spells like speak with animals/speak with dead. Do you think this might have a similar influence on expectations from some new players moving forward or do you think since BG3 is a video game it will have less of an impact than CR and other tabletop shows have?

      35 votes
    4. Would I enjoy Baldur's Gate 3 if I hate D&D?

      I'm just wondering how much of a D&D fan you need to be to enjoy the game. I have several friends who like the game but they're all D&D fans to some degree. I am not, and never got into it....

      I'm just wondering how much of a D&D fan you need to be to enjoy the game. I have several friends who like the game but they're all D&D fans to some degree. I am not, and never got into it. Roleplaying is something I've done for years but it was just playing characters without any sort of systems or numbers involved. From doing some reading, I get the impression if you aren't a D&D enthusiast, you won't get much out of the game and won't understand much if anything that's going on. The game has good reviews so I'm torn.

      20 votes
    5. Final Fantasy XVI is driving me nuts (no spoilers)

      I'm a little over halfway through and I really have to force myself to keep playing it. Some of it is really cool and a lot of it drives me crazy. Sorry to rant a bit but a lot of the discourse...

      I'm a little over halfway through and I really have to force myself to keep playing it. Some of it is really cool and a lot of it drives me crazy. Sorry to rant a bit but a lot of the discourse online is extremely positive and I just wanted to let this out.

      • So many cutscenes. They're pretty good cutscenes. The acting is largely very good, most characters are really enjoyable (although maybe one day FF will realize that antagonists can be multifaceted and not just generic evil badman). But so, so many hours of cutscene -- run over there -- cutscene -- go to the one map location that's unlocked -- cutscene.
      • So much time wasting slow running around. Sometimes the maps are designed like a (linear) maze for apparent reason except to make it take longer to get somewhere. I see a quest marker and I just immediately "ugh" at how long it's going to take me to plod over there.
      • And as a corollary to the above, exploration sucks. I learned very early on that there's no reason not to beeline to the next goal, so it makes the slow running that much worse. Dungeons are basically right out of FF XIV, which means one straight line and a very clear pattern of trash mob, trash mob, boss, rinse, repeat.
      • The gear and stats are a non-entity. You go through the story, it more or less hands you periodic levels and gear. It feels like they thought including these things was obligatory, but for what they put in the game, they could have just not bothered.
      • Combat is pretty fun! A little repetitive. A little samey. I wish there were more options for using all the skills you get. I have all these things I could unlock, but the very limited set of slots you get make they basically a non-option once you've picked the ones you like. The system just feels kind of half baked.
      • And in that same vein, the big quick-time-event boss battles are neat too. I don't love them, because it feels a lot like I'm not playing a game anymore, but they do look pretty fantastic. Some of the latter ones go on for way too long. Just like, I was done with punching this fantastic looking beast 10 minutes ago.
      • Maybe I haven't heard enough of it or listened long enough, but the music is disappointing. Which is sad because I love the tracks in XIV from the same composer. So much here is just ambient or otherwise underwhelming. A bunch of critical moments are just remixes on the classic theme, which is nice, but not really selling me on the new score overall.

      I'm probably going to stick through to the end (slowly, with many breaks for Dave the Diver), at the very least because it was so expensive. I just wish it were better.

      31 votes
    6. What variant rules/house rules do you use in your Warhammer fantasy roleplay 4e game?

      I'm currently reading over and learning Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4e I'm moving more and more away from D&D and Pathfinder games towards others due to different mechanics, fantastic design, etc....

      I'm currently reading over and learning Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4e I'm moving more and more away from D&D and Pathfinder games towards others due to different mechanics, fantastic design, etc.

      I've seen much conversation about WFRP 4e online and how it's not as good as 2e, or too complex, or other arguments. I'm not looking to start edition warring, but how many of these arguments still hold true in 2023 with the newer rules from Up in Arms and Winds of Magic?

      If there are complexities/gaps in 4e, what variant rules, house rules, or homebrew are you using to fix those things or fill them out?

      9 votes
    7. DMs and GMs what tool or tools do you use for world building?

      I'm starting a new campaign soon and I plan to create a homebrew setting and story like I've done in the past. I've used a combination of Google Docs, Evernote, and other general purpose tools for...

      I'm starting a new campaign soon and I plan to create a homebrew setting and story like I've done in the past. I've used a combination of Google Docs, Evernote, and other general purpose tools for other settings and campaigns. Does anyone use something like World Anvil or Legend Keeper? Something else?

      I'm still in the brainstorming stage of world building, and I'd like a place to collect my thoughts and plans. Ideally I'd be able to easily convert that into something searchable and updateable when it's time to actually play in the setting.

      Do you use a single tool for creating maps, NPCs, plot points, history, and adventures? Or do you have a suite of tools you find works well to cover all those aspects?

      29 votes
    8. Thoughts on romance in video game RPGs (no major spoilers)

      What are your thoughts on romance in RPGs? I'm using the word "romance" here because it's usually what the topic is called. But I think it's too specific and has unwanted connotations with...

      What are your thoughts on romance in RPGs? I'm using the word "romance" here because it's usually what the topic is called. But I think it's too specific and has unwanted connotations with cheeziness. I would prefer the term "attraction", which can also refer to more challenging relationships that might not include sex or even happy endings.

      The recent news that Starfield will only feature 4 romance options has fans debating, and before Starfield it was Cyberpunk, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Skyrim, etc. Each of these games took a slightly different approach to romance and each had their fans and critics. On the one hand, the Witcher 3 had a defined player-character and very few romance options, but the writing was excellent and the romances fairly believable. And then there was Skyrim, where you created your own character and had lots of romance options, but all you needed to do was a fetch quest for your belle/beau and then give them a necklace before living a happily married life of fighting bandits, adopting children and saying the same things to each other ad nauseam every day for eternity. But even Skyrim's romance had a certain charm to it. At least you got to live with your partner, build a house, have a family and go hunting together...

      I fully understand the viewpoint that gamers would rather have fewer options if they are deep than more numerous janky options. We're yet to see what Starfield's execution will be like, but even if they have done a good job with it, I can't help feeling a little disappointed that there are so few options in such a massive game. I fully understand how difficult it would be to have more options and still make the romances compelling, but I think this should be strived for, rather than just given up as too hard.

      Of all the big entertainment media (movies, TV, books, etc.), games are understandably way behind when it comes to romance. It's either rarely implemented or implemented poorly because technically it is very difficult. Yet it's often a major part of storytelling and virtually omnipresent in other media. Sometimes it's the main story; other times it's a side story within the main one. But it's quite rare for it never to feature at all in mass entertainment media. Of course, it's often shoehorned in because it's what the viewers/readers want and expect, but you can also argue that attraction to someone else is just a fundamental human emotion and maybe even unavoidable, especially in an epic or heroic scenario like an RPG. I'm sure someone with professional experience in this field could probably speak more to this point, but I'm thinking here of those intense emotional feelings you get from stressful situations, which could lead to crushes and attraction for those in the same situation, or to rescuers and caregivers (Nightingale syndrome), or even to abductors (Stockholm syndrome) and the opposite (Lima syndrome).

      And the fact that it's a fundamental human trait that plays such a major role in our lives (for better or worse) is why I think gaming companies should not ignore romance and should strive to create truly compelling attraction stories. It's an area ripe for innovation and could really make a game stand out from the rest. It's time to move on from the stereotype that gaming is for teenage boys and all they want is to shoot things and maybe have sex with big-titted avatars. Gaming is now for everyone, for all ages and for all sexualities (including asexuals), and I'm sure there's a market for mature stories to reflect what drives many people's decisions and behaviours.

      The RPG genre in particular seems to be the best fit for romance (outside of dating sims, which I know nothing about). The beauty of role-playing is that you get to be who you want to be, which includes exploring attraction and your sexuality. It's incredibly challenging and maybe even impossible to create a game that would please everyone, but I certainly don't think the idea of compelling attraction gameplay should be given up because previous attempts have felt so inauthentic.

      Going back to Starfield, I'm really excited to go out exploring the stars, fighting space pirates, upgrading my ship, and acquiring cool abilities. I love all these things about RPGs. But I'm also a sucker for a great story and experiencing a genuine human journey. For me, this includes relationships, both platonic and sexual, because it would be unavoidable when spending so much time with people on my ship, and exploring the galaxy. The importance of attraction in games will vary between gamers, but as other mass entertainment media has shown us, it's massively popular when done well, probably because it speaks to something so fundamental within us as humans.

      These are just some of my musings and ramblings. What are your thoughts?

      • Is it a waste of dev time and resources because it's too hard to do well?
      • Is it an aspect you particularly enjoy or hate in RPGs?
      • Which game did it best?
      • What would you like to see in RPGs of the future with AI possibly being used?
      23 votes
    9. FFXVI review

      Hey everyone. I just beat FFXVI and wanted to share my thoughts in case anyone was thinking of getting the game, or if anyone wants to have a good discussion about the game. I tried to make it as...

      Hey everyone. I just beat FFXVI and wanted to share my thoughts in case anyone was thinking of getting the game, or if anyone wants to have a good discussion about the game. I tried to make it as spoiler-free as possible, but please do be advised that this could end up accidentally spoiling certain story elements.

      Please note, these are just my opinions. I haven't really played any other FF games, so I'm only comparing this one on it's own merits. Please, if you disagree with something, don't lash out at me. I'm just a dude posting this for good fun and have 0 accolades on why I'm qualified to review anything lol

      Also, if you're reading this and have a gaming recommendation for me, I am 100% open to it. I've been looking for some new games to play, so if you think of one I might enjoy while reading this, please let me know.


      • Graphics: This game looks amazing. There were times where I would just walk through locations and really appreciate how everything looked. I don’t do this often in video games, so it’s nice to see a world that felt genuinely awesome to appreciate and admire. You can tell a lot of work went into building these towns/locations, aside from some of the later areas.

      • Combat: The combat in this game is great, addicting fun. I know this is a point of contention for fans of previous FF games and how this is a definite departure from the turn-based style, but some of the best moments I had were chaining combos and getting staggers quick. Towards the end of the game, I was able to bring down some of the mini-bosses extremely quickly and it never got old to pull off. I see people saying things like “You just press square the entire time and win” which I don’t agree with at all. If that’s how one chooses to play the game, then you’re actively not engaging with the combat mechanics and that’s on you. The combat can be complex with different abilities interacting with each other to obtain massive damage, that's what I like in a game.

      • Story: The story of this game is phenomenal and I was engaged most of the way through. I’ll have some of my thoughts on story-beats below because there were times where this game dragged on, but the overall concept of a nation at war with each other and essentially starting your own faction from the ground-up is a lot of fun. About 50% of the way through, you’ll unlock a mechanic that allows you to see how all the factions have been interacting with each other, what wars were started and why those wars were happening throughout the entirety of timeline of the game. I spent a solid hour reading everything in these menus because I was intrigued by the complexity of everything and how it all tied into other events, and how sometimes your main characters crew were beyond detached from what was going on in the main world to achieve an ultimate goal. It’s really awesome to see what other antagonist are doing despite your current story beat being involved with something else at that moment, and I wish more games would incorporate this because it really works to make it feel like the game doesn’t revolve around you but that you are apart of an overall story.


      • Eikon battles: For those not in the know, you’ll occasionally transform into a giant beast (Eikon) named Ifrit and take on other giant beasts (Eikons) throughout the story. At first, these were really fun to play and were truly spectacular to watch but as the story goes on, the fights get less and less engaging. In these parts of the game, you really can just press square and win. Aside from dodging, there is practically no complexity or strategy to these fights. There really isn’t strategy with the main combat either but at least with the main combat, you can pull off insane combos. As Ifrit though? Forget about it. The best combo you can do is ‘Square, Square, Square, Square, Triangle’. You do get 2 abilities as the story goes on, but they’re really nothing special. I actually started to play these section how I play Diablo; outheal the damage. I just used the one combo and healed 2-3 times per fight, while closing the distance as much as possible. I guess this is a valid strategy but I can’t imagine this is how the devs wanted these parts to play out.

      • Quicktime events: I think QTE’s should stay in the 360/PS3 generation. I haven’t seen a current Gen game utilize QTE’s, let alone utilize them as many times as FFXVI did and it’s these dated mechanics that are definitely contributing to others saying the game feels outdated. There are multiple times where you’ll go up to a door click ‘X’ and it will be like ‘Now hold R2’. This happens a lot in the game. It happens so often that I’m not convinced at all that it has anything to do with enhancing the gameplay and was made simply to show off the Dualsense controls because, whilst I don’t like the QTE, the Dualsense will give this haptic feedback during these parts. I can’t really explain it, but it does occasionally work well enough to be immersive. The other QTE events are during Eikon battles, and they’re literally just ‘Press X’ and ‘Press R2’ in an extremely generous amount of time. There’s also another QTE even where you just mash square endlessly until you win, which reminds me of mini games in Mario Party 1… on the Nintendo 64 nearly 30 years ago. It’s just an outdated design IMO and I would have rather just watched cutscenes than occasionally press a button. I will say though, there was one QTE which I laughed at. There’s a scene where the MC is coming to grips with an important story-beat and the QTE literally says “Press L3 & R3 to accept the truth”. This gave me giant “Press F for respects” vibes, and I don’t know whether they meant for this to be hilarious but it was. This is the only QTE event I thought was good.

      • 70% fun, 30% drag: I found the first 70% of this game to be an insanely good experience. Truly next-gen and one of the best action games I have played. The story was engaging, the combat was really fun and the character/world building peaks about here. Afterwards though, not so much. It goes from being a story about conflict between nations but once that resolves, it’s a story about killing God. From here, I really couldn’t care less about the happenings. The people you’re built to dislike from the beginning have resolved story arcs, they introduce new antagonists that aren’t super interesting and it’s just an overall slog the last 30%. Also, that’s a specific percentage, but when I found myself wanting the story to wrap up, it was right at the 70% mark. From what I’ve read/watched about the FF series, it seems like a few of the games have this inevitable drop-off and can get pretty convoluted, but what I can say is… that first 70% was some of the best gaming I’ve had in a while. The last 30%, not so much.
 The ending of the game was great though and I hope that we get a continuance of this story later on.

      Random Thoughts:

      • Side-quests: I’ve seen people saying the side-quests are generic MMO like side-quests and I flat out disagree. First off, I think the only reason anyone is making the MMO comparison is because the same team that made FFXIV (an MMO) created this game, so it’s low hanging fruit and easy to criticize without putting in any effort. The side quests are not any different from any other RPG game I’ve played. Most side quests in most RPGS boil down to “Talk to this person, go kill this thing, come back and get a reward”. I have played very few RPG’s that didn’t have these as a majority of their side quests. Even something as recently as Diablo 4 has primarily only these types of side quests. I don’t understand why people give FFXVI so much flack, but I just don’t agree. The side quests are more about world-building and getting to know what your average person existing in this world deals with. You’ll learn backstory about your companions you wouldn’t know otherwise, get various upgrades/mementos and really get to know the world you are playing the game in. I’m not saying that some of these side quests aren’t just “Go talk to this person, then talk to this person and win”, because there are some that are really that simple, and if that’s not your thing then that’s okay, but I seriously don’t understand why people are giving this game flack for doing the same things that every RPG has done before. Just seems unfair IMO.

      • RPG Mechanics: This game should have either added more RPG mechanics, or leaned into the action style and got rid of them entirely. There is no point in leveling up in this game. You don’t get rewarded for leveling up. It happens automatically and you don’t get to distribute any skill-points or anything like that. You literally don’t get anything but new weapon unlocks and an increasing number. I have never played a more shallow RPG. You get Ability Points which can increase your Eikon powers, but somewhere down the line, you just start stockpiling these because you have nowhere to spend them. Sure, you can unlock more abilities and increase those powers, but why would you do that? This game has obvious skills that are significantly stronger than other skills, so why would you use those other skills? I’m sure if I experimented around, I can find some great ways the skills I never used can interact with each other, but why would I when the ones I use now are already doing massive damage? IMO, they should have just leaned into the action gameplay and did away with the RPG mechanics. I know this is FF and FF is an RPG series, but the RPG mechanics are insultingly bad in this game and I can see why FF take offense to it. I do, and I’ve never extensively played any of the others. They could have at least added damage modifiers, resistances, etc that you can spend Ability Points on. By the end of the game, I had 8000 unspent Ability Points because there was just nowhere to spend them once you've got your play style.

      Overall, I'd give the first 70% a 9/10 and the last 30% a 7.5/10.

      14 votes
    10. Thoughts on Final Fantasy 16

      Personally I'm none too keen on this new action focus that SquareEnix has taken the series but many people like it. What really has me second guessing myself are the graphics. They seem not...

      Personally I'm none too keen on this new action focus that SquareEnix has taken the series but many people like it.

      What really has me second guessing myself are the graphics. They seem not necessarily bad but dated and/or lower budget than I expect from a main series release. Their character models still suffer from lack of mocap especially facial details. The backgrounds are lackluster and the textures basic. Even during one of their much touted Epic Eikon battles they use a completely gray background?! I feel like my PS5 hardware is taking a nap while playing this game.

      Edit: turns out that after adjusting settings on both the game and my TV everything looks much better. For some reason my usual game profile on my TV made everything look super washed out. Between that and the beginning of the game being pretty monotone for the first bit with the game look super washed out and without detail.

      One of the main driving factors of the series have always been the progression tree. Historically unique awesome visual representations of the skills you can gain with varying paths to choose from. FF16 has a basic interface that essentially amounts to equippable skills with (so far) no exploratory elements whatsoever.

      Lastly the main protagonist seems almost like a clone of final fantasy FFXV character. The clothes are similar, his backstory is similar, and his skills are similar.

      I understand that I'm probably aging out of their target demographic and I'm especially curious on younger people's thoughts on it.

      Edit: After about 30 hours and almost at the end of the game it has grown on me a bit. The combat while still super easy at least it is more fun with added Eikons. The side missions get a bit better towards the last third of the game and some of the hunts are pretty challenging. I'm still disappointed in the lack of RPG elements such as, skill trees, elemenal and status mechanics, and equipment variety but I've enjoyed the game and can at least appreciate the accessibility to a wider audience.

      43 votes
    11. What are your favorite "hidden gem" RPGs?

      Was recently feeling nostalgic over some RPGs I used to play back in the PS1 era and was wondering if anyone had some "hidden gems" they've been wanting to get off their chest? A couple of mine...

      Was recently feeling nostalgic over some RPGs I used to play back in the PS1 era and was wondering if anyone had some "hidden gems" they've been wanting to get off their chest? A couple of mine are:

      Suikoden II

      Game of Thrones meets JRPG. Super fun story with just the right amount of twists and turns. Lots of loveable characters, both standard turn-based and tactics style combat, and fun little mini-games throughout (feudal Iron Chef fans rejoice)! The only real downsides to this game are the now outrageous price for an original copy, and the "need" to have a completed save file from Suikoden 1 to get 100% completion (and a different ending). On the brightside that means you get to play Suikoden 1, which is an excellent game in it's own right!

      Azure Dreams

      A fun little RPG that is equal parts rogue-lite, Pokemon, dating sim, and city builder. You traverse a large tower collecting monsters that assist you in battle. With the spoils of your expeditions you can grow out the town that sits at the base of the tower, and maybe woo some love interests along the way. Character progression resets each tower expedition, but your monsters retain their levels (and it's possible to retain some gear as well). Overall was a fun game that I sunk a bit too much time into back in the day.
      44 votes
    12. World of Horror will exit early access and launch in Summer 2023

      @Ysbryd Games: Cosmic horror RPG #WORLDOFHORROR from @panstasz will exit Early Access and launch in Summer 2023 for:* PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4* Switch * PC via Steam, GOG, Microsoft Store, and https://t.co/L8aU7LyQ58 Who is ready to go to Shiokawa? 🐙 pic.twitter.com/2CIoAG1Sqr

      5 votes