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Pratchett's Discworld novels are split between series with returning characters like Rincewind and a few self contained ones. If you can get it, you probably should start with The Colour of Magic since some minor characters appear with larger roles in later books. Try to stick with the same character for a while and you might enjoy the books.

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Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
Speaking of Pratchett, what's the recommended entry point for his books? If I wanted to dive into Discworld, should I start with The Colour of Magic and proceed forward? Or would it be better to pick a later point of entry, or perhaps a self-contained novel to start with (I hear Small Gods happens before the events of other novels)? Something like Good Omens instead?


small gods is awesome and requires no prior knowledge of other books, you will not regret reading it

seriously, read it now

now

what are you still doing here, why are you not reading small gods yet

Quote:
Don't get me wrong, it is a decent system, and I've enjoyed playing with it. But boy does a lot of the book deal with combat. I suppose it's unavoidable; the bulk of the 3.0 PHB dealt with spell descriptions -- half of them only relevant to two classes. But it does strengthen D&D's reputation as a combat-only RPG. A lot of people claim this is irrelevant, as you can still run non-combat encounters in D&D 4.0, despite the majority of rules dealing with combat. That may be true, but by that argument, F.A.T.A.L. isn't a RPG about sex.


d&d 4E is also awesome as long as you understand and don't hate the design principles underlying it, it's essentially some fairly basic rules for resolving non-combat situations tacked on to one of the best miniatures wargames ever made. also as you've probably noticed spellcasters don't completely dominate the game any more, which is nice

you can run a whole 4E session without a single fight, but it's sort of a waste to not use the best aspect of the system. you do kind of have to trust your players to be able to deal with non-combat situations without demanding detailed rules for everything, but the skill challenge rules do their job well enough

i can give you a bunch of tips on how to run 4E campaigns, just hit me up on AIM or something. the DMG2 is also handy for this, it's full of good advice about the basic assumptions behind the system and what to do and what not to do as a DM
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Originally Posted By: Thuryl
small gods is awesome and requires no prior knowledge of other books, you will not regret reading it

seriously, read it now

now

what are you still doing here, why are you not reading small gods yet
|I am reading textbooks now. :-(

Originally Posted By: Thuryl
d&d 4E is also awesome as long as you understand and don't hate the design principles underlying it, it's essentially some fairly basic rules for resolving non-combat situations tacked on to one of the best miniatures wargames ever made. also as you've probably noticed spellcasters don't completely dominate the game any more, which is nice

you can run a whole 4E session without a single fight, but it's sort of a waste to not use the best aspect of the system. you do kind of have to trust your players to be able to deal with non-combat situations without demanding detailed rules for everything, but the skill challenge rules do their job well enough

i can give you a bunch of tips on how to run 4E campaigns, just hit me up on AIM or something. the DMG2 is also handy for this, it's full of good advice about the basic assumptions behind the system and what to do and what not to do as a DM
I'm just a player right now. Our DM is kind of sick of his job, though, and wants to set up a roster of characters and a rotating DMship.

[snip]

Ah, I had a couple paragraphs here, but really, most of my problems with the system are due to my group's inexperience with it. 3.x feels smoother than 4.0, but after years of 3.0 and two sessions of 4.0, that's too be expected.

I wasn't able to put my main thoughts on the system until I read this review (only visited a Baskin & Robbins once, and never heard of Coldstone, so don't know how good the analogy is). Building a 3.x character was like dumping a bin of lego blocks on the floor and building whatever you wanted (with a ridiculous number of prestige classes). Maybe 4.0 is a blessing in disguise. While I still have the patience for minmaxing, I don't have the time.

(i dont think zero punctuation is as effective when you have three paragraphs of it)

(oh crap im going to hear yahtzee reading all your posts now)
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Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
(oh crap im going to hear yahtzee reading all your posts now)


that's actually a pretty good approximation of my accent

Anyway, the thing about character building in 4E is that while there are characters that are more optimal than others, it's pretty hard to make a character that's actually useless unless you're intentionally trying to do so. 4E has niche protection that actually works, whereas in 3E beyond a certain level your character will be overshadowed, even in their own role, unless you make a wizard, cleric or druid.

You also need to understand how the class system works: a class is really just a set of skills with some optional flavour attached (4E straight-up encourages you to mix and match flavour if you want). If you catch yourself thinking "okay, I want to make a fighter, but instead of protecting others she charges in and does lots of damage" -- stop. What you want is an Avenger or Ranger. There's no law that says your Avenger or Ranger can't call herself a fighter. In my experience, people who say that 4E is inflexible don't really get this.
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I'd personally recommend jumping into one of the more developed series for Discworld and then going back to earlier books if you want. Guards! Guards! begins the Watch series, and it's a good beginning. Men at Arms works almost as well, is the next book in that particular sequence, and is usually much easier to find.[/i]

 

And, 4E. Yes, 4E has disastrously bad flavor compared to previous editions. It's also so light on flavor that you can really do whatever you want with it. And if what you want is space opera with rayguns, it's really pretty simple to file off the names and play whatever you want.

 

The combat is good, but the lack of min-maxing, rule-breaking insanity comes at the cost of being able to do some things that were silly but still effective in earlier editions, particularly 3E. The system is far more solid, but saving the DM from having to veto broken ideas also keeps some neat ideas from being workable, and it's a valid but not necessarily preferable trade.

 

—Alorael, who thinks everyone would be much happier if the game just weren't called D&D. It doesn't work like older D&D. It works fine on its own as what it is, but that's not D&D as of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd edition. As soon as you stop trying to shoehorn the games previously known as D&D into the game known as D&D, the better off you will be.

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Originally Posted By: Thuryl
small gods is awesome and requires no prior knowledge of other books, you will not regret reading it

seriously, read it now

now

what are you still doing here, why are you not reading small gods yet


This. I would recommend starting with Mort, as the first few books in the Rincewind series, COM, LF, and Sourcery, are not really reflective of his current writing style, which began with Mort. That said, his Death miniseries (Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather, and Thief of Time) are his best.
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I think I started with Mort. It's definitely been long enough that I need to read it again. Guards! Guards! is an excellent starting spot. I'm not terribly fond of Men at Arms, mostly because of the Dog Guild subplot. One or the other should be enough to set you up for Feet of Clay, which is one of my favorites. I also like Equal Rites, but it is very different from the other witch books.

 

My overall favorites are Small Gods and Going Postal, either of which are good starting points. My least favorite is still Monstrous Regiment.

 

Over the holidays, Dikiyoba read Eric (unfortunately not the illustrated version), The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents, and Wintersmith (Dikiyoba would not have thought it possible to put Nanny Ogg in a book aimed at kids, but it works).

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  • 1 month later...

Now reading through Matter. Iain M. Banks seems to be in the odd position of being a good writer except for characters, which he seems pretty bad at producing. Caricatures, yes. Characters, no. The narrator is the most sympathetic participant in the story.

 

—Alorael, who enjoys the novel anyway. What it lacks in characters it makes up for in interesting ideas and the absurdity of the Culture and other cultures.

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Originally Posted By: Starbreak Scattershot
Now reading through Matter. Iain M. Banks seems to be in the odd position of being a good writer except for characters, which he seems pretty bad at producing. Caricatures, yes. Characters, no. The narrator is the most sympathetic participant in the story.

Alorael, who enjoys the novel anyway. What it lacks in characters it makes up for in interesting ideas and the absurdity of the Culture and other cultures.


How odd, I just got that book. I'm reading A Canticle for Leibowitz first, though.
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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Oh, just shut up and let's get around to eating that Jesuit.

Yumm

Originally Posted By: SLARTY
If I had any PDNs left to spare, and it didn't break the character limit, mine would now be "The Old Woman with Only One Slarty"

I would be in favor of that.
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  • 3 weeks later...

Just finished The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which seemed very good at the time, but somehow now I'm having a tough time justifying my impression. I guess I somehow feel that it had a lot of great stuff in it, but didn't quite manage to really blow the doors off when the time was right. That it came to a time to blow the doors off is still saying something, though, especially for a first novel. Maybe I'm just unsusceptible somehow now.

 

Wait, maybe I can hazard a guess. There are too few characters. The narrator heroine is quite good, but there are only two others who rise above minor status, and they are both inscrutable gods, with whom it's hard to identify. So everything's a bit cerebral.

 

Oh, and the heroine doesn't actually do very much. She has insights and experiences events, but she mostly just gets pushed around by expert schemers, several of whom are inscrutable gods. This also makes everything that happens seem kind of distant, even when it's cosmic.

 

Now that I put it this way, this is such a basically flawed book, it's a wonder it gets off the ground at all. Yet in fact it manages to achieve at least the status of 'pretty good book', in my book. It does some remarkable things, including a pretty impressive stab at making gods seem like real people, without making them less than gods. It looked so fast and strong, I was surprised that it never really hit a winning stride; only in retrospect do I see, it was running on wooden legs.

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The point of Matter isn't the plot, which is actually an extended shaggy dog story. The point is the storytelling. It's surprisingly narrator-driven for a novel who's narrator is essentially third-person omniscient.

 

—Alorael, who has now moved on to Making Money and Unseen Academicals. After all the complaints he heard about the former, he was pleasantly surprised. The latter he's just begun. Pratchett still has the ability to induce genuine laughing out loud.

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Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
Just finished Small Gods which was read in infrequent bursts on bus rides and between homework assignments.

Didn't expect this to be my reaction, but meh.


I really liked small gods when I read it a year or two ago. I think it was the first of his books I read. I've got a few other of Pratchett's books but haven't had too much time to read anything other than textbooks for a while.
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Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity
Wait, maybe I can hazard a guess. There are too few characters. The narrator heroine is quite good, but there are only two others who rise above minor status, and they are both inscrutable gods, with whom it's hard to identify. So everything's a bit cerebral.


A hundred thousand kingdoms and only three major characters to populate them? Sounds pretty cerebral to me.

I have just finished "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Its first person narrative and standard respectable hero with standard, respectable morals somehow are surprisingly good. Also surprising is that for a book about a man imprisoned in a Soviet prison camp it's not a "downer". Not to say that I don't sympathize, but the book doesn't leave one with an overwhelming sense of sadness, in fact the main character describes the day as being a good day.

What else have I been reading (besides forums)? The text to Geneforge 1, which I bought a half-year ago because it's the only GF game I haven't played beyond the demo (this is my second playthrough, decided to try and go without canisters).

Also the text to a freeware game called Iji (which is pretty text-heavy, for an action-platformer). I recommend it to anyone who likes text and action/platforms. Also, maybe an extra hour (or five, as in my case).
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I am currently reading Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. The book is a fascinating critique of American pop-history, specifically as taught by textbooks, which creates a feel-good sentiment of nationalistic pride. Specifically, Loewen has had a lot to say so far about racism and how the way we teach history is only actually reinforcing racism in our society.

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I just finished Blindsight by Peter Watts. It was surprisingly creepy.

I read that one a couple of years ago, and by pure coincidence, stumbled across the associated website last night. I definitely didn't dislike the book, but yes, very creepy. His other books appear to be as well, to judge from the materials on the website, which I quite enjoyed reading through. It's a nice way to present the background for the books, and I think it might even work better if the book excerpts weren't included, as they break the facade and remind the reader that it is, in fact, essentially an advertisement.
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I just finished Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. (can't forget the middle initial) Massie. I read Dreadnought a while ago, so I picked this up while on vacation as some light reading. It is a quite brilliant work of historical narrative, although his style gets very tiring after a while. Observe as I imitate it:

 

Here's me telling you something about the Tzar.

 

Here's a ridiculously long quote by the Tzarina's butler's mistresses' brother about the Tzar's campaigns in Japan, telling you nothing that couldn't be condensed into the prior sentence.

 

Here's me executing a totally unnecessary recap of the quote, which adds nothing new and lasts for a paragraph.

 

And there's six hundred pages of that! I swear, he had to have been paid by the word.

 

Despite my ranting, the book is actually quite good and very understandable, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in European/Russian history.

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I've never found Massie's style objectionable. If you buy a 600 page tome on a narrow topic, all that ruminative deep background is what you're paying for.

 

Nicholas and Alexandra was Massie's first book, though. It was also the one he was most personally involved in — he has a son with hemophilia, himself. So maybe he was more expansive in it. I think Dreadnought is my favorite of his books.

 

At any rate he's not paid by the word. His books sell very well, but take him so long to write that he isn't rich. (I have this from a relative of his.)

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Originally Posted By: Goldenking
I am currently reading Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. The book is a fascinating critique of American pop-history, specifically as taught by textbooks, which creates a feel-good sentiment of nationalistic pride. Specifically, Loewen has had a lot to say so far about racism and how the way we teach history is only actually reinforcing racism in our society.
My parents could write a whole series based on what they were told by the nuns who taught them in school.
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Originally Posted By: The Mystic
Originally Posted By: Goldenking
I am currently reading Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. The book is a fascinating critique of American pop-history, specifically as taught by textbooks, which creates a feel-good sentiment of nationalistic pride. Specifically, Loewen has had a lot to say so far about racism and how the way we teach history is only actually reinforcing racism in our society.
My parents could write a whole series based on what they were told by the nuns who taught them in school.


I haven't read this book, but I've seen these claims before, and I've always been a little puzzled by these claims. I think they must be coming from the previous generations' textbooks, because most of the ones I recall from high school and university were guilty of at most oversimplifying. And it's odd that he claims that we should rely more on primary sources, since those are often quite biased and lack any context.

Politics and government books, on the other hand, I've seen contain fairly seriously strange things, and seem to be a lot more ideologically based. I think some of these books are single-handedly responsible for most politicians not knowing a single thing about how the government works!

Originally Posted By: Student of Trinity
I've never found Massie's style objectionable. If you buy a 600 page tome on a narrow topic, all that ruminative deep background is what you're paying for.


A big fan of Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler, are we? laugh
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Originally Posted By: cfgauss
Originally Posted By: The Mystic
Originally Posted By: Goldenking
I am currently reading Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. The book is a fascinating critique of American pop-history, specifically as taught by textbooks, which creates a feel-good sentiment of nationalistic pride. Specifically, Loewen has had a lot to say so far about racism and how the way we teach history is only actually reinforcing racism in our society.
My parents could write a whole series based on what they were told by the nuns who taught them in school.


I haven't read this book, but I've seen these claims before, and I've always been a little puzzled by these claims. I think they must be coming from the previous generations' textbooks, because most of the ones I recall from high school and university were guilty of at most oversimplifying. And it's odd that he claims that we should rely more on primary sources, since those are often quite biased and lack any context.


The author claims, basically, that history is told by the victors. America started off bad, but has gradually conquered every problem, from slavery to the Nazis, because we're America. Problems, like racism, have been solved by the civil rights movement, etc.

The racism that this book specifically says is brought up is how American text books tell only of the "white" American perspective, repressing, to a certain extent, the history of the natives, the African Americans, the Latin Americans, etc. And, furthermore, the book critiques the hero-making style that glorifies Washington, Lincoln, Wilson, etc. without telling of their faults.
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