Pending Schedule Issues & 5e Speculation

Ok, so I haven’t posted this week like I said I’d try to in order to make up for last week. Bad blogger, bad blogger…

And I may be posting infrequently for a while due to some real life stuff, namely that my work schedule is changing in a couple of weeks. I’ll be working on weekends, so won’t really have the time or energy to post on Saturdays anymore. Once that happens I’ll have to switch to either Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, and it may take me a while to figure out which day works best and get into a new routine. I’m also transitioning from temporary work to a permanent job, trying to take care of some financial stuff, and eventually trying to relocate. All this is happening as we’re entering the holiday season, etc. etc.

The main point is that this is a weird, somewhat chaotic time for me and, in the short term, I can’t promise regular updates until things become a little more stable. I feel pretty accomplished, though, in that I’ve kept this thing going more or less regularly for several months, and have developed an audience. I greatly appreciate every comment, every new follower, and every like. Thank you guys for showing an interest. While you may hear less from me for a while, I’m not going away for good.

On a more RPG related topic (that’s what you come here for, right?) I’m still pretty fixated on the new edition of D&D. The Monster Manual comes out in a few days, and I’m really excited… and annoyed that I have to wait until December 9th for the DM’s Guide. I, like Veruca Salt, want it NOW! I have some questions that I’m bristling to know the answers to. Some will be answered in the MM, but I think the DMG will answer more. Some of my questions are:

  • Will there be prestige classes? It’s seems possible that there won’t be, since a) 5e is geared towards simplifying and streamlining things b) even the regular classes have multiclassing prerequisites in a manner similar to prestige classes did in earlier editions, and c) all of the classes have “subclasses” chosen between 1st and 3rd level, depending on class (for example, fighters and rogues choose an Archetype at third level, Sorcerers choose a Sourcerous Origin at 1st level, and Druids choose a Druidic Circle at second level), and these subclasses seem kind of prestige classy. Even so, I hope there will still be prestige classes, or something similar, because I like the more specific forms of advancment they offer to higher level characters. And they’re fun.
  • Will there be rules for monstrous characters? Not only did the  monstrous character rules in 3e provide additional options for players, they helped DMs customize antagonists by, for example, letting a band of “standard” orcs be led by a Cleric of Gruumsh. We’ve already gotten a peak at how monsters work, from the few sample creatures in the PHB to the monster stat blocks released for the Starter Set as well as the Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat adventures that have been released, most of which are available as free downloads (and also gives us a still in the works sneak peak at a section of the DM guide, showing how to tailor encounters to party level) so we now what the stats are for a standard orc, or goblin, etc… but the matierial released so far has not (at least from what I’ve seen) provided any base racial traits for monstrous humanoids (ability score increases in particular), so at this point I’m not particularly sure how a DM might go about building an Orc Cleric or a Goblin Warlock other than just winging it. I’m sure the MM and/or DMG will go into this, but I’m curious about the process. Will there be level adjustments and Effective Character Levels, as in 3e, or will it be different?
  • How many domains are in a Diety’s portfolio? The PHB mentions that Dieties have multiple domains, collectivly called a portfolio, as in previous editions, and there is an appendix giving brief overviews of Dieties from different pantheons in different campaigns settings so you’re cleric has some idea of which god to follow, but that appendix only lists one or two “suggested domains” for the diety, and doesn’t go into a lot of details about the gods themselves. For example, for Lolth, the suggested domain is Trickery, but even I know that the Spider Queen is about more than Trickery. I just finished reading R. A. Salvatore’s Homeland (yeah, late to the party, that’s me) and I don’t think I’d describe Lolth as a “trickster” goddess.

So you can rest assured that, as this sort ofinformation becomes more available, I’ll be here to report… eventually.

 

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Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition and Player’s Handbook Review

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, step right up, finally your favorite RPG blogger (I am your favorite, right?) will get around to reviewing the new edition of D&D, and specifically the Player’s Handbook!

Strap in kids, this is gonna be a long one!

Let me begin by saying that I approached 5e with the expectation that I would not like it. I’ve said this several times before, but my introduction to D&D was 3.5, and in my mind that has been the definitive, correct version. I could give a list of reasons I didn’t like fourth edition, but they all boil down to dammit, it’s different from 3.5! That makes it wrong!

Well folks, I like fifth edition! I think it’s a nice blend of what made 3.5 great and what they were trying to accomplish in 4e; or to put it another way, they’ve achieved the streamlining and accessibility they were trying to achieve in 4e while still achieving a very 3e feel to everything.

In thinking about how to do this review, I considered a few different approaches; chapter by chapter, individual mechanics, etc. I think what I’ll do is break this down into things I like, things I’m not sure about, and things I don’t like (no system is perfect, after all). Being the negative Nelly that I am, I’m going to start with…

Things I Don’t Like

Skills and Proficiencies

I won’t go into to much detail, because a) I’ve already talked about it, and b) I don’t dislike this as much as I did when I first perused the basic rules document, but I’m less than thrilled with how skills are being handled. It’s not really for practical reasons, but for personal taste. A friend of mine and I have an ongoing debate about the importance of skills; my point is that a long, diverse and detailed lists of skills is important in customizing a character, making making your 5th level rouge different mechanically from every other 5th level rouge. My friend’s point is that no game system can account for single thing that a character might ever do, and that having a long list of skills makes a system needlessly complicated, so it’s better to have fewer but more flexible traits. This debate of ours is like XTC Vs. Adam Ant: neither side is better than the other, we’re just approaching the question from different perspectives.

The 5e approach to skills is on my friend’s side. Skills (and there aren’t many of them) are just specific uses of ability checks. Characters have a proficiency bonus based on their character level, and gain proficiencies from race, class, and background on skills, saves, tools and weapons. When you’re making an attack with a proficient weapon, using a proficient tool, making a save with proficiency, casting a spell or making an ability check in which a skill proficiency applies, you get to add your proficiency bonus. This makes the system more flexible and easy to understand. From a practical viewpoint it works great. If you’re like me though, you might think the system is a little confining in your options during character creation and advancement. Content versus form. There is no right or wrong.

Feats

In 3.5, and in fact most other systems I’ve played (including terrible ones with broken systems like Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space), the system gives you a small number of special traits that give you bonuses or unique abilities to further set you apart from other characters, specifically in a way that makes them more awesome, like ambidexterity, extra hit points, special senses, etc. In some games their simply called Traits or Advantages, World of Darkness calls them Merits, and in D&D their called Feats.

Well, I got bad news, Feat lovers, but Feats are now an optional rules variant that come at the cost of an Ability Increase (which, incidentally, is now a function of class level instead of character level, but more on that later.)

Halflings

Halflings are my favorite D&D race. In the two games I’ve played that lasted more than a session or two I played Halflings, and in both games my fellow players kept teasing me about being a Hobbit.

But Halflings are not Hobbits. It’s not just that they’re from different settings, there are key differences. In short, this is a Halfling:

Lidda, from 3.5 Player's Handbook, image found at http://danddgame.blogspot.com/2010/05/main-heroes.html

Lidda, from 3.5 Player’s Handbook, image found at http://danddgame.blogspot.com/2010/05/main-heroes.html

… and this is a Hobbit:

Proudfoot, from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; image found at http://www.theargonath.cc/characters/proudfoot/proudfoot.html

Proudfoot, from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; image found at http://www.theargonath.cc/characters/proudfoot/proudfoot.html

Pretty clearly not the same race, right? Yeah well…

Most of the images of Halflings in the new PHB have them looking distinctly Hobbit-like; that is, fat and/or jolly, singing and drinking and not acting like the stealthy rogue favoring race they’re supposed to be. I know, it’s just the art work, they haven’t made Halflings more Hobbit-like mechanically, but still, I don’t like it.

Racial Ability Score Penalties

There aren’t any! So races are good at different things, but there aren’t any races that are bad at stuff? Dwarves aren’t dinged on Charisma from being all secluded in their mountain kingdoms? Elves don’t take a hit on Strength from their light frames? Most folks probably wouldn’t see this as a negative thing, but it just makes sense to me that if you can have bonuses from your race, you should also be able to have penalties.

Things I’m Not Sure About

Advantage and Disadvantage

This is an interesting new mechanic, but until I’ve actually gotten to play a 5e game and see it in action, I’m not sure what to think about it.

Some situations give you either advantage or disadvantage on a check, save or attack. When you have either you roll two d20s instead of one. With advantage, you use the higher die, and with disadvantage the lower.

The thing that’s got me scratching my head is I can’t really see how this affects the outcome. Does this really make success in an action more or less likely? I mean, imagine that you have advantage or disadvantage on a check with a DC of 15, and both dice come up 16 or higher. Did having advantage really help you? Did disadvantage hurt you? The result is the same regardless of which die you use. Alternatively, if one die is a success and the other a failure, than does having advantage do more than give you a (I think probably) false sense of having dodged a bullet, and does disadvantage only serve to make the failure more annoying? I’m sure someone who knows more than I do about probability math can see what, if any, effects this might have, but for the time being I’m not sure if I consider this new mechanic a good or bad thing. (By the way, if you can clear this up for me, please do so in comments.)

Update

I just found this by a guy who knows stuff about probability, and according to him advantage and disadvantage make significant differences in check results. He’s even got graphs and shit. So I guess we’ll count it as a good thing.

Odd Numbered Racial Ability Score Adjustments

Some of the bonuses to ability scores granted by race are +1 instead of +2. That’s strange to me. Ability scores are usually (though not always) the part of the ability that matters least; what really matters is the modifier it grants, and those modifiers increase on even numbered scores (-1 at 8, +0 and 10, +1 at 12, etc.). Because of that, I think odd numbered adjustments are kind of pointless. For example, if you’re playing a Drow, and as such get a +1 to your Charisma score, and the number you rolled, picked, or purchased (depending on the method your DM is having you use) is 12, that increase from 12 to 13 doesn’t change the modifier and is therefore not all that helpful. Yes, I understand that gets you one step closer to 14, and thus a higher modifier, but I’ve always thought that racial score adjustments should always be even numbered so that they always change the modifier.

That being said, I do like that Humans, instead of having no ability adjustments (as in 3.5), get a +1 in all six abilities, so over all I can’t say I solidly like or dislike the odd numbered adjustments.

Things I Like

Combat

The combat chapter in the 3.5 PHB was 57 pages. In the 4e book, it was 31 pages. In the 5e book?

Nine. Nine pages. That’s it. Nine!

That ought to give you an idea of how streamlined and straightforward combat is in the new system. Sure, it’s more abstract and less realistic, but I’ll happily trade that for not having to spend 20 minutes figuring out the outcome of a grapple, or explaining to players how opportunity attacks work. It’s all easy and understandable. The pointy end goes in the other man.

Also, it leaves things more in the DMs hands than in the system, which is always a good thing. Right?

Ability Score Improvement

In the new rules, ability score increases (now called improvements) are granted by class level instead of character level, as in 3.5. At first glance this seems like a positive, but then I had a thought and looked at the Score Improvements for each class. Lo and behold, they happen at the same levels (4th, 12th, 16th, and 19th) for every class except for Fighters, who also get one at 6th, 8th and 14th level. So why make it a function of class? Why not keep it a function of character level (the way proficiency bonuses are) and make a Fighter class feature that gives extra improvements at 6th, 8th and 14th level? Is this, in fact, a pointless change?

Then I realized the benefits to a multi class character! If you have 4 levels in two classes, you get two ability score improvments (three if one of those classes is Fighter) when a single class character would only have one. So yeah, it’s a good thing after all!

3e Style Classes and Spell Casting

This, more than maybe anything else, is what earns 5e it’s official Spelunking RPGs seal of approval, because one of my biggest complaints about 4e was the way spells worked; specifically that they worked the same way as non magical effects. I really believe that the mechanics of magic should be different from other kinds of actions. Furthermore, the whole idea of having the special abilities of every class work the same way just seemed weird to me, and was probably the clearest indicator that 4e was trying to cash in on the popularity of MMOs.

Now, instead of the at will, per turn, per encounter and per day powers from 4e, classes are structured in a very third edition-like way, and the mechanics for spell casting are almost identical, though in both cases things have been cleaned up and made more understandable. It’s good! It’s really, really good!

The Artwork

It kicks ass (except for the way they’re depicting Halflings). Seriously, it’s a beautiful book.

The Disclaimer

From the copyright page:

“Disclaimer: Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the consequences of splitting the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, ‘Are you really sure?'”

Summary

I was going to go into more individual points but I’m already at about 1900 words on this thing and I’m sure neither of us wants to be here all day, so I’ll wrap it up. The fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons combines the style and format of third edition with the accessibility of fourth edition, capturing the best of both worlds. I like it a lot, despite the few complaints I have, and I think I’m actually ready to accept it as my new difinitive version. I eagerly await the realease of both the Monster Maual later this month, and the DM Guide next month, and will probably be doing reviews of those books too.

Dragons Over Normandy Update: Orcs (or, Why I’m Not A Racist)

A while ago I talked about an idea I had for a game based in a modern version of a D&D world which is going through a global conflict similar to the first and second world wars, and was also seeing the same kinds of political and social changes the real world was seeing during the early to mid 20th century. I haven’t talked about it in a while, but I have been kicking some ideas around. As one might expect, a lot of these ideas are centered around which D&D races would serve as analogues for which real world countries and cultures. Though I didn’t get this here on the blog, some of my friends who I told about this face to face had a knee jerk reaction to one of these in that they found it kind of racist, and that was my idea that Orcs would be this world’s answer to Native Americans. It didn’t occur to me until someone had this reaction, but I know realize that it kind of looks like I’m saying Native Americans are evil barbarians. That’s not the case at all.

On the social/political changes side of the whole project idea, I wanted to reflect the way that the major industrial powers of the early 20th century were undergoing changes in the way they treated certain ethnic minorities. Being an American, the racial tensions that first come to mind is African-Americans (specifically the long terms effects of slavery) and Native Americans (specifically the long-term effects of the U.S.’s genocidal treatment of them). So to find analogues for them in D&D, we need races who are typically seen as evil, worthless, and totally OK to kill and victimize, and who are also very familiar. The two races I think of first who fit that bill are Orcs and Goblins, and I decided to make the Goblins the race who were under the yoke of slavery and the Orcs the ones who were fighting to preserve their own land from foreign invaders. The idea here is not that Native Americans are the way people think of Orcs being, but that Orcs should be seen the way Native Americans actually were: dehumanized victims of racist, military expansion.

Here’s a rough idea of the story of Orcs in this world:

At some point in the pre-industrial eras of this world, the various races were by and large consolidated and separated into their own lands; The Dwarf Kingdom gathered into the world’s largest mountain range, the various Elf sub races unified under a single empire in the eastern woodlands (except the Drow who remained in the Underdark), the Humans came together in the large wintry northern territories and became very isolated, secure in the knowledge that no one can mess with them unless you are the Wild Elves, and so on and so forth. At first the were still a lot of unclaimed, and thus more or less neutral, areas, and it was here that the nomadic Halflings thrived. The one race who had already existed like this, however, were the Orcs, who originated on a very large island (or perhaps a very small continent) west of the great mountains (now home to the Dwarves) and accessible through various island chains. In earlier parts of history the Orcs maintained a presence on the mainland, and much of the world’s history is marked by wars with the Orcs. But as all this nationalizing and solidifying of kingdoms happened, the Orcs withdrew to their own lands.

As time went by, these various kingdoms began to expand, leaving less and less unclaimed space for the Halflings. They began to realize that they need to abandon their nomadic ways and found a kingdom of their own, but by this point that was almost impossible to do as the few unclaimed territories left were all hotly contested by kingdoms that they didn’t have a chance against in a conflict. Then their leaders had a neat idea; the Orcs have this giant island, and everybody hates Orcs and are worried that they may come back, so we could probably get support from at least some of these kingdoms to invade Orc Country and turn it into Halfling Country.

And so it came to pass. The Halflings biggest backer by far were the Dwarves, who initially used their military might and superior technology (the Dwarves led this world’s industrial revolution) to establish a set of colonies for the Halflings in Orc Country, originally under Dwarven rule, but they eventually gained independence and spread across the island/continent thing in a kind of “manifest destiny”.

What this meant for the Orcs was centuries of warfare trying to repel these invaders that cost millions of Orcish lives and led to their near extinction. By the time of the Great War most of the Orcs are living in reservations and resisting societal efforts to make them more like the mainland races. One Halfling famously said “kill the Orc, save the man.

And this sets the stage for Orcs in the modern era, as the world is entering the largest and most brutal war it has ever faced. Orcs are being asked to fight and die on behalf of the very government that has been killing them, literally and figuratively, for centuries. They are burdened by the common notion that they are evil, savage, and barbaric. Their ancient societies are deemed chaotic and uncivilized, and the Orcs themselves are thought to be servants of an evil and brutal god (although the word “slave” would be more accurate). Dwindling numbers, fierce racism, second class citizens in their own homeland.

So you see, it’s not that I have a low opinion of Native Americans, it’s that I have a high opinion of Orcs.

 

On a completely unrelated note, I want to apologize for last week. Usually when I have nothing for you I tell you, but I was silent last time. I have no excuses, so I’m not going to pretend to. I’m just very sincerely sorry that you nice folks you decided that this little blog of mine is worth following were forgotten and ignored last week. Please forgive me, and I hope this post makes up for it.

Story Points and Doctor Who

I’ve been holding on to this one for a while, waiting for the right time to talk about it. As it happens, “the right time” is today when I can’t really think about anything else to talk about. So here goes, some of my thoughts on Cubicle 7’s Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space.

First, let me point out that I haven’t even looked at the books for this game that I have, let alone looked at any new material, for quite some time, so for all I know it’s possible that this is longer applicable. I hope changes have been made, but I can’t be bothered to follow up because this game made me so mad that I’ve kind of disowned it.

I ran a Doctor Who game a couple of years ago, and the experience, for me, was not fun and just frustrating. I put a lot of the blame for that on myself, but the game itself has a lot of problems. The really weird thing is, though, that most of the cons with the game are things that I thought would be pros. Sometimes you can’t tell how good or bad a system will be until you’ve actually played it. There was one particular problem that I think is the worst, so I’m going to talk about that. I might get into others the next time I’m stumped for a topic; perhaps an essay on the difficulties of role playing a Dalek without breaking the narrative drama (it’s hard).

DW:AITAS is one of a lot of games lately that have “plot points” or “story points” or another kind of point system that gives players a degree of control over the game, making the running of the world a little more collaborative. Generally speaking, I like them. Before running my Doctor Who game, I played a Battlestar Galactica game that had a similar mechanic that didn’t cause any problems. Players can spend these points to get bonus dice or make small “edits” to the world, like “I’d like to spend a story point to have something nearby I can take cover behind.” Mutants and Masterminds also has a similar thing, “hero points” that also lets a player retry failed rolls, overcome negative conditions, and other neat things. The story points in Doctor Who have two problems though. First, your character’s story points replenish every session, so there is no motivation to ration them, especially since most characters have 12. This problem is made worse by the second, which is that you can spend story points to turn failed rolls into successes – not just get a second chance, as in M&M, but actually convert failure to success for 1-3 points, depending on how bad your roll was. In fact, the only way you can lose a roll is by running out of points or choosing to fail… which in turn gives you a story point. It’s difficult to present players with difficult challenges when they can choose whether or not to fail. It completely misses the point of rolling dice in the first place.

Story points, or whatever you want to call them, are a great way of empowering players, but when they disempower GMs, making even a starting character powerful enough to do almost anything, it makes the game broken.

Heroes?

Today’s post was inspired, in part, by “M for Mature” by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, and calls back to some of the things I’ve talked about lately. Also, the character names were taken from this page.
 

One evening, as the last of the sun’s rays began to withdraw behind the great mountains to the east, a party of orcs made camp for the night after a long day of adventuring. The fire had been provided by Ugzod, the group’s sorcerer, and above it hung a now deceased wild boar, which was caught by the fighter Dur. Nazsnaga, a druid, didn’t approve, but chose to find some fruit for herself instead of starting an argument over it. The camp site had been consecrated by Shaksnik, cleric and priestess, and the party was settling in for a nice meal followed by good night’s sleep.

Standing guard at the edge of the camp, the ranger Dreggut suddenly picked up a scent that alarmed him. He moved quietly to the others. “Be on your guard,” he said, “I don’t think we’re alone.”

Suddenly, from all around them, another adventuring party emerged from the trees, weapons drawn and ready for battle. They weren’t orcs though. The halfing was wielding a crossbow, and had a backpack that was clearly full of treasure. The elf woman, wearing the barest of garments, held a wooden staff aloft as light streamed from it. The human, wielding an insanely large broadsword, appeared to be one massive, solid muscle clad in scaled armor. And the dwarf, naturally, had an ax.

“Prepare for death, vile creatures!” the elf shouted, “Behold the light of Corellon Larethian and dismay!” But the light coming from her staff only served to illuminate the goosbumps on her bare skin.

“My goodness,” responded Shaksnik, “do the elves really make their women dress like that? You must be freezing, you poor dear! Here, take my coat.”

As she tried to hand her coat to the elf, the human stuck is sword into her face, nearly taking an eye.

“Back, monster! I will not allow evil such as you taint our cleric!”

Shaksnik looked at him, confusion and hurt feelings mixed on her face. “But, I’m a cleric myself.”

At this point Dur felt compelled to interject. “What evil? What are you talking?”

“You, laddie” the dwarf said. “Everyone knows orcs are evil.”

Ugzod burst out laughing. “Dude,” he said, anachronisms be damned, “You’re calling us evil, you bigoted fuck?”

“Yeah” Dreggut added, “Not to mention all that loot the halfling’s carrying. I suppose you guys bought all of that, and the original owners are still alive and well.”

“Uhm…” the halfling responded.

“Enough” the human shouted “We shall do battle!”

“Let’s not,” Nazsnaga said, “We’re all adults here, I’m sure we can come up with some kind of peaceful, mutually beneficial agreement and part ways without bloodshed.”

 

The next morning, Ugzod, Dreggut, Nazsnaga, Dur and Shaksnik were dead, their bodies left, without ceremony, to the crows. And the other party were in a nearby village, being celebrated as heroes.

Morality Systems in RPGs Part 3: Subjectivity vs. Objectivity

So I’ve talked a bit about a couple of different morality systems, and the one common problem I’m seeing is that morality is subjective, but game mechanics are objective.

A character with a high Strength score is going to be more likely to succeed at a Strength check because the stronger someone is they better they are at performing feats of strength. That isn’t an opinion, and it’s not open to interpretation. That’s just the way it is.

We tend to thing of morality as working the same way; right is right, and wrong is wrong. But our rhetoric on morality doesn’t really reflect the truth of it. We interpret, we make exceptions, we rationalize actions we would otherwise consider “evil”. Most people agree that it’s wrong to kill other people… unless you’re a soldier in a war, or if you’re killing out of self defense, or if the person being killed really fuckin’ deserves it. Furthermore, we have degrees of how bad we think something is depending on the circumstances; we tend to think of pre-meditated murder as being worse that an impassioned or accidental killing. They’re all wrong, but one is more wrong than the others.

Can this be reflected in game mechanics? Maybe, but it seems difficult. As I’ve said before, game mechanics are a reflection of the physical laws of the game’s setting. A sword’s damage rating reflects the way sharpened metal of a certain size and shape interacts with flesh under the application of force. A race’s base speed reflects it’s capacity for locomotion as determined by biology. It doesn’t matter if you think you can move faster, you can’t. But what you’re character thinks about her choices and actions should matter, as should the opinions of those affected by those actions. This is an element of morality that has a tendency to get lost when cramming subjective, gray ethics into objective, black and white game mechanics, leaving players and GMs in the position of often making exceptions and judgement calls to the rules. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with doing that, but you’re game’s systems shouldn’t make it necessary.

The better question is, should morality be reflected in game mechanics, and the more I think about it the more I want to say no. This seems like something better left as a role playing element. Yes, a character’s actions should have an impact on her; if she begins her adventure claiming to be a pacifist but ends up slaying a bunch of bad guys, that should have an effect on how you play her. But don’t rely on a game mechanic to tell you how to play your character, the rules don’t know her as well as you do and can’t possibly tell you exactly how those changes will manifest. Does she become crazy and maniacal, fully embracing the path of destruction she’s set out on? Or does she become quiet and withdrawn, overcome with remorse over the terrible deeds she’s done?

And hey, GMs, this isn’t all on the players! Does the character described above have a chance at redemption, and if so, how can that be achieved? How will the society around her be impacted by her actions? Is she a celebrated hero for ridding the village of the barbarian scourge that plagued them, or is she seen as a war criminal who went too far? If the character’s player decided to go with the homicidal maniac archetype, how exactly does her madness manifest?  Is there a higher power in your world, and if so, how does it react to this woman’s crimes?

These are all big question that deserve more careful and in depth consideration that “make a roll” or “change your alignment”.