Sunday, January 29, 2012

Investigation: The Horseshoe Isle Settlement (Session 3)


Keyleth Arwyl:  Elven Protector Druid (Circle of Shelter, Beastwalker Circle)
Fen Silverfang:  Longtooth Shifter Berserker (Temperate Lands)
Sophia Vermillion:  Half-Elven Valorous Bard
Miyako "Mia" Sotoko:  Human Centered Breath Monk
Zeus:  Dwarven Wrathful Invoker

The Crossing

The party began by waiting until cover of night to paddle over to the next island in the chain.  During this time Keyleth gathered some more ritual components to reduce the cost of Sophie's Remove Affliction ritual.  Under an overcast sky, they set out.  Zeus and Fen rowed, while the 3 girls acted as lookouts.  The pirate captive was gagged and tied up.  About halfway to the other island Sophie spotted 3 shark fins heading toward their small boat.  Mia wins initiative, but the best she can do is throw a dagger at one of the sharks.  Soon they're charging at the boat, attacking those on board.  At one point one of the sharks grabbed Fen, threatening to pull him under.  It wouldn't have gotten far, however, since Fen had been using Run Down to keep it slowed, and it was also in Keyleth's Nature's Growth zone (a tangle of seaweed).  Keyleth used Charm Beast on an adjacent shark, and then commanded it to attack the one grabbing Fen (which was a kill). 

A couple of rounds after the first shark is bloodied, 3 more sharks appear, attracted by the scent of blood.  They all attack the bottom of the boat, severely damaging it.  At first everyone tries to stay in the boat, but once the reinforcements arrived Mia jumped in the water to use her burst attacks more effectively (only 1 shark remained adjacent to the boat at the water's surface).  Shortly afterwards Fen jumped in to get as many of the sharks in his defender's aura as possible in an effort to keep them from attacking the boat.  Keyleth soon followed, using Wild Shape to turn into a sea turtle before using Predator's Flurry to daze 2 of the sharks (because sea turtles beating up sharks is awesome).  The one shark still above water wouldn't go down too easily with just Sophie and Zeus taking potshots at it, and it used one of its final actions to attack the boat, finally destroying it.  Under too much stress already, it fell apart and Sophie and Zeus fell prone in the water (both were wearing chainmail, and had Athletics scores of 2 and 1, respectively).  Fortunately, either Fen or Mia (I can't remember) killed the last shark, and Keyleth immediately rushed underwater to save the bound and gagged captive, who was sinking. 

Fen let Zeus use his large (wooden) shield as a paddleboard, and they swam the rest of the distance to the other island.  Fen propped the prisoner up onto some boat debris, and dragged her (him having the highest Athletics bonus).  Everyone ensured they would at least stay afloat by utilizing pieces of wreckage.  Only Sophie failed her Endurance check, slowing the others down and losing a healing surge in the process. 

The Ambush

The swim took quite a long time, and it was about 5 am by the time they reached the island.  They were exhausted, and Keyleth did a quick sweep of the beach to look for tracks (which she found), and they made camp in a densely vegetated spot away from the tracks.  Zeus took first watch, and it was during his watch that they were ambushed (he failed his Perception check).  During the surprise round, he was peppered with arrows and brought down to bloodied.  Initiative was rolled, with the PCs generally moving more quickly than the monsters (only Fen rolled low). 

The opposition consisted of 6 humans; 2 archers and 4 melee fighters, 2 of which were beefier than the others.  Keyleth summoned a Pack Wolf next to one of the weaker melee guys and an archer, and used an Action Point to Charm a nearby strong melee guy.  The wolf knocked the weaker guy prone.  Being prone (having been woken up), Mia was forced to simply chuck a dagger.  Zeus used his usual tactic of blasting guys with Hand of Radiance, as well as using his second wind.  On Fen's turn he stood up (minor action, thanks to Acrobat Boots) and charged the 2 enemies near the Pack Wolf, protecting it and keeping the enemies in his aura.  The archer didn't fare too well in this scenario. 

Mia's nova round consisted of a move+attack a bunch of guys encounter power, followed by Spinning Leopard Maneuver (a similar daily) via an AP.  She ended up hitting every single enemy on the field, ending near the guys tied up by Fen's aura.  Her total damage was 150 for that round (there was a crit in there).  Speaking of crits, Keyleth had some odd luck; she rolled two crits, but one was Charm Beast (no damage), and the other was with her Pack Wolf (no crit dice thanks to the lack of the Implement keyword on SNA).  She also crit-succeeded a saving throw.  Frustrating to see nothing special happen for all of those 20s!

Zeus, Fen, and Mia all got beaten up a fair amount, but nobody went down.  Keyleth's Pack Wolf was never hit (and only attacked once), so it got 4 or 5 attacks in.  To be fair, the DM thought it was like the Shaman's SC and so didn't attack it, but even so it was protected by Fen the majority of the time anyways.  Even though nobody was in much danger, a couple of dailies were used and almost everyone used an AP.  Certainly the most challenging encounter of the adventure so far, and it was fun as well.  Still, this DM tends to lean to the easy side when building encounters, and it's something I've mentioned before.  This was a good start (being a random encounter and all), and I hope the upcoming encounters are very challenging. 

For now, this was where we ended the session.  We played a little under 3 hours, and there was only a little bit of roleplaying with most of the session being the 2 encounters.  On average, that's a little over an hour for each encounter which is longer than I prefer.  It is worth noting that the cats provided a lot of distractions (from watching their antics, to cleaning up after they'd knock something over, to keeping them off the table) so we weren't running at full efficiency, and there seemed to be a lot of thinking over options when it came to a player's turn.  Even my turns took a little longer than usual, and I have my characters' powers pretty much memorized.  I guess I just wasn't thinking ahead as much before my turns came up (especially with Keyleth, who is more tactically complex than Fen being a controller and all).  While I really enjoy playing Druids, they really do require you to be on your game.  A good portion of their control comes from positioning enemies (and/or yourself) just right after dazing/proning them to deny actions and/or generate OAs.  While it's certainly engaging most of the time, sometimes I wish control consisted of more straightforward effects like stun, blind, and dominate as opposed to dazes and prones.  I can't wait until I pick up Repel Charge in Paragon, as this will make my positioning options more flexible. 

Anyways, that's all for now.  The DM hopes we'll be done in one more session, but I personally have my doubts, lol.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Investigation: The Horseshoe Isle Settlement (Session 2)

Cast of Characters

Keyleth Arwyl:  Elven Protector Druid (Circle of Shelter, Beastwalker Circle)
Fen Silverfang:  Longtooth Shifter Berserker (Temperate Lands)
Sophia Vermillion:  Half-Elven Valorous Bard
Miyako "Mia" Sotoko:  Human Centered Breath Monk
Zeus:  Dwarven Wrathful Invoker

Battle Aboard the Merry Jane

The previous session ended with The Spooner nearly destroyed, and the PCs raising a white flag in mock surrender to the pirate ship.  The idea was to wait until the ship got close enough that the crew could board them, and then the party would attack.  The Spooner being a small fishing vessel, the pirates shouldn't expect resistance.  As the ship (called The Merry Jane) pulled alongside the Spooner's port, the PCs could see 4 thuggish looking deckhands with grappling hooks nearest to them, clearly preparing to board.  There were also 2 buff looking pirates, 2 pirate archers, and 2 tough-looking pirates that appeared to be in charge.  Before the deckhands could toss their grappling hooks, the party attacked and initiative was rolled.

Zeus rolled highest, and blasted 3 pirates with Searing Orb (1 was a deckhand, which not surprisingly turned out to be a minion).  With 1 enemy down and the other 2 blinded, Mia used Crane's Wings to easily jump aboard the Merry Jane, and she went straight for the blinded pirates.  Keyleth was up next, using Vine Serpents to contain 3 different pirates and setting up her Nature's Growth zone nearby, the limit the mobility of the enemies around Mia.  Nobody else blew any dailies, and Sophie, Keyleth, and Zeus pretty much stayed aboard The Spooner as artillery.  Fen was able to just clear the jump (the distance between the 2 ships was 2 squares) as part of a charge toward one of the archers.  He used an AP to attack the archer again, bloodying him and knocking him prone.  This was the only AP spent during the encounter.

The following are some observations and highlights from the rest of the battle:
  • In general, though we didn't plan for it our party is extremely AoE heavy and also happens to have a lot of forced movement at their disposal.  The fact that Zeus and Keyleth have Hand of Radiance and Magic Stones, respectively, is interesting, and regardless of what Mia is doing she can slide someone with Centered Flurry of Blows.  Though it didn't occur in this battle, I'm keeping an eye out for opportunities to use Magic Stones to group enemies in Fen's aura (MS is a push 2 for her).  Mia can then blast the crap out of them while protected by Fen, and if Fen gets overwhelmed Prescient Warning and Curtain of Steel are great retaliatory attacks (CoS will trigger Fen's Fury, which will score him 16 THP).
  • Vine Serpents absolutely wrecked this encounter.  Most of the pirates in the zone didn't have ranged attacks, so while they were immobilized/restrained they couldn't do anything.  One of the archers was in the zone, but every time he shot out of it he took 9 auto-damage.  Mia (and eventually Fen) parked next to the zone just outside, so once enemies were no longer immobilized/restrained they still took damage for attacking outside of the zone.  Add in the party's proclivity for forced movement and you can see why the enemies went down quickly.
  • Mia was the only combatant to knock someone overboard, using Crane's Wings (with FoB as a backup in case the pirate made her saving throw to avoid getting pushed off).  That pirate was the only one to survive the battle, as Keyleth threw a rope down to her afterwards so they could ask her about the settlement (and gather info on the area's pirates).
  • Fen was never even bloodied, only taking a single hit.  The DM was rolling really badly for attacks most of the night.  Mia was the only PC to take any appreciable damage, but the only healing that had to be dished out was Revitalizing Incantation.  
  • Keyleth rolled a 3 with her Charm Beast attack, and the Elven Accuracy roll was a 2.  Boo.  The DM wasn't too happy to learn that the pirate was dazed anyways, leaving Fen as his only viable target.  
  • Fen went into a Fury late, getting to make only two attacks as a striker.  The first was a bad miss, the second was a charge that critted the last archer (who had only 3 HP left) for 40 damage.  As he sliced the head off of the pirate, he caught the head in mid-air as the body was thrown overboard by the force of the blow, then he slammed the head onto the deck. 

The Settlement

After the battle, the party went below deck of The Spooner and called the crew (and Captain Jack) over to The Merry Jane, their new ship.  Jack immediately went below deck, and the crew requested Mia's assistance as this was a bigger vessel and they were now shorthanded.  Keyleth went up to the crow's nest as lookout.  Sophie, Fen, and Zeus interrogated their captive.  They learned that this area is the territory of the Pirate League, and that they've made it a point to get rid of any settlements they find.  They also learn that Captain Jack was kicked out of the Pirate League, and their captive was responsible for him having only 1 eye.  They also questioned her about the "monstrous tracks" reported by the supply crew, and she informed them that many pirates in the area enslave various monstrous creatures to do their bidding.

It wasn't long before the ship got as close as it could get to the beach, at which point the PCs rowed to shore, taking their captive with them (you know, we never did catch her name...).  The settlement was very primitive with just a few thatched huts and some rudimentary buildings (a mill, shop, etc).  Bodies were indeed everywhere, and Fen (being trained in Heal) went over to them to determine cause of death.  He rolled a 19, which made for a 29 total, so the DM answered pretty much every question I had regarding the injuries.  They had died about a week ago, most of them with slash wounds inflicted by swords.  A few, however, were bludgeoned pretty badly and suffered from bite wounds that were inflicted while the victims were still alive.  Meanwhile, Keyleth decided to investigate the large tracks that were reported, aided by Zeus, Mia, and Sophie.  Keyleth critted her Nature check to ID the tracks, which combined with the +6 from the three aid rolls resulted in a total of 40.  She pretty much instantly recognized them as troll tracks.  The tracks were mixed with humanoid tracks, with a trail leading to the settlement from the woods, and then going back into the woods the way they came.  Knowing that trolls were difficult to take down without acid or fire damage, the party took stock of their resources.  Sophie's Dilettante was Burning Spray, and this was their only fire attack.  At least it was something.

The group (with their captive in tow and gagged now) followed the trail through the woods for about a mile.  At this point they reached a beach, where the tracks ended.  It looked like a small boat had been drug up on the beach, and had likely come from another island about a half mile across open water from this beach.  Using the spyglass that one of the crew members had lent her before the pirate attack, Sophie looked for anything of interest on the other island.  It appeared that there were some smoke plumes coming from the mountainside, and possibly some structures there as well.  They walked back to the settlement, portaged their rowboat through the woods to the second beach, and spent the rest of the day waiting for the cover of darkness, at which point they would row to the island. 

Our DM needed to get some sleep so we ended here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Investigation: The Horseshoe Isle Settlement (Session 1)


Keyleth Arwyl:  Elven Protector Druid (Circle of Shelter, Beastwalker Circle)
Fen Silverfang:  Longtooth Shifter Berserker (Temperate Lands)
Sophia Vermillion:  Half-Elven Valorous Bard
Miyako "Mia" Sotoko:  Human Centered Breath Monk
Zeus:  Dwarven Wrathful Invoker


The Red Frogs are finally back in action after a several-week hiatus!  The DM for this campaign decided to scrap the Prologue that we previously ran because of the time gap and changing ideas.  Worked out well though, because since then Heroes of the Feywild was released, and now I get to run some new builds from it (Keyleth and Fen) instead of being locked into playing Lyra and Berylis again.  Worth noting is that when Sophie was leveled, she took some new powers from that book as well (Revitalizing Incantation and Prescient Warning).  The combo I'm thinking about is that when Fen is getting clobbered by several enemies Sophie will use Prescient Warning, and then immediately afterwards I'll go into a Fury via Curtain of Steel.  Should prove to be a pretty devastating nova round, especially if I follow it up with an action point on Fen's next turn.

Another point worth noting is that this party is very AoE heavy.  All of Mia's encounter powers are bursts (even if they may not be the best power of that level), Zeus is very AoE heavy (actually, he often spams Hand of Radiance), and Keyleth and Sophie both have their fair share of area attacks (Keyleth has Magic Stones, which can be used to clump enemies to set up her burst/blast-happy allies).

The Village of Tarvarin

Our heroes begin in their headquarters (technically an unspecified satellite HQ, as the main headquarters in Fallcrest has established geography that conflicts with this adventure's needs).  They learn that the guild has been contracted by the Gold Coast Trading Co., which has been trying to establish settlements fairly heavily along the Strait of the Winds.  There is a heavy pirate presence in the area, and GCTC hopes to secure the location with a strong presence there.  They lost contact with a recent settlement on Horseshoe Isle about a month ago, and the latest re-supply ship found the village ravaged.  Material goods were looted and bodies were scattered about like confetti.  The supply ship's crew quickly retreated without further investigation, as they noticed large, monstrous tracks and feared for their lives.  GCTC wants the Red Frogs to investigate further.

The party heads south down the road to the village of Tarvarin, 3 days away, which sits across the Strait.  On the way there they encounter bandits who try to rob Fen.  Big mistake.  Keyleth, disguised as a dog, is the only one who notices and she barks a warning.  The party attacks and quickly dispatches the bandits.  Fen is the only one to specify a non-lethal "kill shot" on the bandit who robbed him, no less.  He takes her weapons and armor (and the party splits the gold that the bandits had) and dump them in a hidden spot down the road.  His way of teaching her a lesson.  Overall, the encounter was ridiculously easy and was over in just 2 rounds.  Keyleth and Mia were the only ones to even get hit (once each, Mia's being an OA she provoked), with Fen never getting the chance to Fury.

When the party reaches town they check into the first inn they see, the Upturned Mug.  At this point the player of Sophie and Mia went to pick up food, and he authorized me to control his characters.  Big mistake I guess.  I had Sophie go drink-for-drink with Zeus, and she ended up passing out after puking her guts out in the alley.  She woke up with a (female) Half-Orc and a fun new rash (which we all assumed was herpes...this was more the DM's fault than mine, I just wanted her to be hung over in the morning since she's the party face).  Quote of the night from Sophie's player:  "This was never supposed to happen." 

In the morning Keyleth and Zeus took point talking with Gils Brooks, GCTC's owner/manager.  He gave more details, and was unfortunately unable to spare a ship at the moment.  The party did get the name of one of his contacts at the docks; One-Eyed Captain Jack (those of you who remember the original prologue will see some similarities here).  They found him later, and Sophie was feeling well enough to haggle with him (Words of Friendship) on the price (including possible hazard pay) for passage on his fishing schooner.  He told them to be ready by morning, and Zeus and Fen invited him to have a drink with them later at the Upturned Mug (despite the fact that he was already cradling a bottle of rum). 


With passage on a ship secured, Sophie, Keyleth, and Fen headed to a local temple to Melora to see if Sophie could get her rash cleared up (Keyleth's Senses of the Wild confirmed that it was indeed a disease, though she couldn't identify it specifically).  The Remove Affliction ritual proved pricier than expected, so Sophie tried to haggle to work out a deal.  Keyleth (who had spent much of her childhood/young adulthood professionally collecting herbs for an apothecary in the Feywild city of Shinaelestra) identified the requisite components (via a Nature check) and offered to reduce the cost by providing the components.  After a less successful nature check, she came back with a smaller bundle than expected barely putting a dent in the cost.  She offered to continue collecting on their journey so that when they returned she could provide the temple with a fairly large stock of components, knocking the price down as far as possible. 

While she was out collecting (with Fen's assistance) Sophie tried other negotiation tactics with Brother Gabriel, the priest.  He revealed that there may be one other thing she could do for him; in an adjacent town someone from one of the temples there (allegedly) stole a holy book from him.  It's rumored that they've gotten involved with some dark practices (necromancy), and Brother Gabriel wants Sophie to gather some intel on the situation and return the book.  This would earn her a major discount on the ritual.  Sophie tried to get him to perform the ritual first, but he insisted that if she wanted the discount, he needed his book first.

Afterwards they all met up at the Upturned Mug for drinks.  Sophie performed for tips (while being hit on by Captain Jack the whole time), Zeus drank everyone under the table, and Keyleth and Fen retired early enough to be the first up in the morning (needing to kick Jack awake, as he'd passed out in his booth).  They all followed Jack to his schooner (named The Spooner), and met his first mate (Levi) and the other 4 crew members. 

All seemed to be going well until they spotted a large ship in the distance.  The Spooner was fighting the current to get to Horseshoe Isle, while this new ship had the current on its side.  It soon became obvious that they were being pursued.  Levi was at the helm, Jack still being drunk.  Sophie got a spyglass from one of the crew members and noticed that the crew of the other ship were definitely moving around a lot on deck.  It soon became obvious that they were loading cannons.  Shortly afterward, The Spooner took a hit to the hull.  They were about 300 yards out from the island and only had a single dingy that could fit 5.  While desperately trying to think of a course of action and coming up with nothing particularly brilliant, the ship took another hit to the deck.  Sophie jumped away in time, but one of the crew members was tossed overboard, limp as a rag doll.  Keyleth ordered the remaining crew below deck to start lashing Jack's rum barrels together into a makeshift raft.  Jack dejectedly went below deck after muttering that "you (the PCs) might actually be kept alive for ransom, but they'll just kill me and the crew."

When they were still a couple hundred yards out from the isle and it was obvious that The Spooner couldn't take another direct hit, Keyleth ordered the party to quickly put together a makeshift white flag to signal that they surrender.  The party agreed that their only chance was to get close enough to allow the pirates to board.  They stood a much better chance against the crew than The Spooner did against those guns, and if successful they would have a new ship.

It was at this point that we called it a night, since there is a pretty large battle coming up.  Keyleth, Zeus, and Sophie all have forced movement powers so the best tactic is obviously going to be to try to knock the pirates overboard (while avoiding being knocked overboard themselves!).  Should be fun.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Building a Better 5e

By now you've probably heard that 5e has been announced, and if so you're also aware that public playtesting is going to be heavily emphasized.  The idea is to let the fans have a larger say in making D&D how they want it, with the (probably unrealistic) goal of trying to please everyone by introducing a modular system that caters to a specific group's preferences.

There's a lot of discussion circulating around the internet, so all that I will do at this point is list some things that I think would make for an ideal game.  I may expand upon these later.

  1. Easy to DM, including encounter-building that is quick and intuitive enough to be done on-the-fly fairly easily.  4e does very well here, and 5e's going to need to be just as good or better to sit well with me (which may prove difficult due to possible complexities with modularity).
  2. Class balance should follow 4e's paradigm where all classes are similarly competent across all levels (yes, exceptions exist in 4e but it's done better than any other edition in this regard).
  3. Less feat bloat, and no "obvious" feats that virtually all builds take.  A corollary of this is that the underlying math should be ironed out right out of the box, eliminating the need for "feat fixes."  Feats like Expertise or Improved Defenses need to go.
  4. Possibly have different categories for feats (combat vs non-combat?) that are gained at different times.  Feats like Linguist wouldn't have to compete with combat options this way.
  5. A streamlined skill list (more akin to 4e than 3.5), but do away with 1/2 level scaling and introduce a mechanic with slightly more customizability (but not as fiddly as 3.x's skill ranks).  Perhaps training in x number of skills at character creation, and then at set levels (6, 11, 16, 21, and 26?  Maybe just 11 and 21?) you can assign a certain # of bonuses (+2?) to some skills.  Basically anything that prevents your training from being overshadowed by scaling abilities (or lack thereof) as you level.
  6. More equitable distribution of skills.  I get that Rogues and Bards have a skill monkey flavor, but why penalize Fighters so heavily?  Also more liberal class skills.
  7. A better magic item system, because this is my biggest problem with 4e.  Fewer items gained over a PC's career, less build-defining items, and make items feel more special.  When making higher level PCs I dread picking out equipment for them, as this takes just as long as everything else on the character sheet combined.
  8. Martial classes that aren't prohibited from being "4e style."  In other words, I want the option at least of playing Fighters that get to do lots of cool things and has the same resource types as casters.
  9. Leaders that heal/buff either as part of their attack, minor actions, etc.  Point being, a leader shouldn't spend their standard action just to heal.
  10. Streamlined list of standardized status effects, much like 4e. 
  11. At-will powers (or their functional equivalent).  No more Wizards needing to carry around crossbows as a backup.
  12. Front-loaded class features.  For example, I hated in 3.x when I played a Druid I had to wait until level 5 just to shapeshift, since that's a class-defining feature.  I love that the 4e Druid's Wild Shape is not only available out of the box, but at-will.
  13. Self-contained monster stat blocks that are at least as simple as 4e's, if not moreso.  This goes along with point #1.
  14. I like the tactical depth of 4e combat, but action-paralysis can admittedly be a problem at higher levels.  I think 4e characters having 4 encounter powers, 4 daily powers, and 6 utility powers in addition to item, racial, and theme powers is too much.  I think that multiple uses of some powers, ways to modify certain powers (if kept straightforward), and/or "unlocking" uses of powers in combat would work better.
  15. Some sort of momentum-building mechanic that allows for better variation in the length of the adventuring day (this sort of goes along with point #1 as well).  Action points are a good start, but they're not quite enough.  Unlocking uses of your daily powers as you win encounters or reach milestones would not only allow you to progress through lots of encounters, but it would prevent you from unloading all of your dailies if you know you'll have a single encounter day.  Resource management would be key here (i.e. getting to choose which dailies you unlock, and at what times, possibly options for doing so in response to battlefield conditions for a price) to keep things interesting.  Though many players would balk at the suggestion, some sort of mana system would work well here.
  16. Surges or a surge-like mechanic.  Basically, anything that makes characters less reliant on a dedicated healer, with options like second wind or being able to heal up outside of combat for minimal cost (though obviously less efficiently than a healer could patch you).  
  17. Preserve different monster types (minions, elites, solos) and roles.
  18. Possibly less numeric scaling as you level in general.  I'd rather have dice be more relevant for damage than static modifiers at high levels, and there's no reason for monster HP to scale so high (obviously PC damage would scale more slowly as well).  
  19. Keep F/R/W as defenses to actively target like AC, as opposed to reactive saving throws by the target.  Preserves the feel that the attacker is doing something, and for the superstitious among us allows the player to roll his/her own dice to determine an attack's outcome.
  20. Get rid of +x weapons.  Obviously inherent bonuses can replace them in 4e, but I'd rather eliminate that source of scaling altogether.  They're boring, require you to fill your 3 main slots with up-to-date items (see point #7), and create situations where the DM screws you over by taking your equipment away, either requiring him/her to give it back (or alternative equipment) fairly quickly, or adjust monsters/encounters to compensate.
As you can see based on this list, I largely prefer the direction that 4e has taken the game.  Obviously if 5e radically departs from this paradigm (especially if it takes a more "retro" approach) I can always just keep playing 4e.  Indeed, I'd probably be more inclined to put a concerted effort into really fixing its flaws and catering more to my preferences if I knew that paid game designers weren't eventually going to do it for me.