What does DM empowerment and Player entitlement mean to you?

Please answer the question in the title in as detailed a manner as possible.   Also if possible answer it as cleanly technical as you can.   Meaning avoid snarky attacks and gushing support.  

Then once you've answered the two questions feel free to comment further on how much of an element you like in YOUR games.   

Thanks.  I think to some degree this bears on the 5e design and will be useful raw data for the devs.  I am not saying they aren't already considering these things.  But a breakdown of varying ideas would I think be nice. 

Here is a great blog by themormegil that explains why we had an edition war. narrativism vs simulationism

 HoBby Award Winner metagame dissonance (plot coupon)

dissociative mechanics (same as my own metagame dissonance. A great article.)

The Five Minute Workday Fallacy

My view on hit points

They're generally terms of ignorance on forums. Neither side is "entitled", it's a cooperative game where fun is usually best served by everyone working together. 
I believe they are technical game design terms.  Thats is what I am mining for here.  But if you feel otherwise thats fine.   But answering here is probably not productive.
DM Empowerment is when DM's are given lots of tools to make worldbuilding easier. When the rules are clear so they have to spend less time examining and rulling on mechanics and more time playing the game.

Player Entitlement is when a player as opposed to a character has been granted land by the queen. The only other uses I've seen have been derogatory.
They're the bogeyman buzzwords that intolerant, selfish people use to berate people for playing differently than they do.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I am shocked that no one can give a legitimate answer.  To me it is merely a playstyle.  They are not mutually opposed either.  They are unrelated.   It is why I requested a definition for both.   DM empowerment also has nothing to do with rule zero.   It really is how a game is written and works.

I guess to some degree I have an answer.  There is widespread ignorance on the subject.

 
I'll answer your question sincerely.

I don't think either exist outside outside specific playstyles, for example ball hogs don't generally exist in tennis. Each playstyle presents its own set of problems. These problems are the result of the group objectives not being consistent with the individual objectives of a player or dm. DM empowerment isn't so much a problem as it is a 'flavor' that is bitter to some, and sweet to others. And the same is true for player entitlement.

The solution is about group dynamic and communication, not system or mechanics. Here would be my steps to reducing these as issues.

Community / Player solution:
1. Community needs create adequete and non-abrasive terminology to define playstyles
2. Groups / Players / DMs need to identify games and their prefereneces by those styles i.e "This friday night I want to run a level 15 'player empowered,' dungeon crawl, with 'low fiat', and 'Tactical Slant'" This gives players and DM's the oppurtunity to acknowledge the playstyle goal, and thereby warn/prepare others joining in.

Developer solution
1. Once a clear lexicon defining playstyle objectives is acknowledged by the community(if it hasn't already), developers can use the terminology to describe the orientation of modules & optional rules  (thereby creating a clear and high-level guide that groups optional rules with game objectives).

My mind is a deal-breaker.

Entitlement means having a right to something. If I paid for a burrito, I am entitled to eat it.

However, it is often used with a negative connotation to indicate that someone is "acting" entitled when they are not actually entitled. It is usually expressed this way when someone expects to have something given to them that they do not have a right to. This would be more properly referred to as "acting entitled."
This whole topic is little more than flame bait.
I gave what I believe to be a legitimate answer to DM
DM empowerment is the ability for DMs to provide the game they want with little disagreement of their players.

Player entittlement is the abilty for players to play the characters they want with little disagreement of the DM.

Basically both are the abilty for your character to do something and have little explanation or argument about the process or result of the action.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Empowerment. I'm a bit surprised you just dismissed it.

*posting from a phone sucks.
They are propaganda used to promote one true wayism.
Here is my quick take

DM empowerment

How much the DM has to adjudicate versus having clear cut rules to guide him.  DM's that are empowered make a lot more judgment calls.  This style of game is fun for some people and frustrating for others.  It is not though a pejorative term.   A pejorative term would be "mother may I" etc...  

Player entitlement
How much players control their own destinies and their own stories.  How much independence they have about their character concepts.  If a PC wanted to be King of a nation the DM facilitates it and makes the world bend to that goal but not necessarily makes it easy.   I think wealth by level and magic item creation rules strengthened this concept in 3e,4e.   Reflavoring of powers is another example.

@Seerow 
Thank you for meeting expectations with your post.   It's good to know there are some constants in this world I can count on. 
Player Entitlement essentially distils down to "I can do this" abilities that bypass the need for "can I do this?" improv/permission. 
DM Empowerment is essentially the opposite situation, but the two are not mutually exclusive.
I wish to answer this but do not have time to right now. I'm posting this to remind myself to come back to this thread later.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
I am shocked that no one can give a legitimate answer.

That's because there isn't one.  The terms are inherently pejorative, combative, adversarial.

The legitimate question is:  Who should be in control of the game?

The answer of the people who use these terms is "Me, and not you."

I find the attitude, from both sides, damaging to the hobby, destructive to the community, and not something that should be brought forward.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I am shocked that no one can give a legitimate answer.

That's because there isn't one.  The terms are inherently pejorative, combative, adversarial.

The legitimate question is:  Who should be in control of the game?

The answer of the people who use these terms is "Me, and not you."

I find the attitude, from both sides, damaging to the hobby, destructive to the community, and not something that should be brought forward.



You don't even know what you are talking about on this subject Mand.  You've obviously read some boards somewhere where a bunch of people that know nothing of what they speak where exchanging barbs.   Neither term is pejorative.  It is descriptive of a playstyle.  You can like or dislike that playstyle and thus perhaps that makes it bad for you.

I did ask the question because I perceived there is a lot of misunderstanding.  And I agree my own definitions could use some additional fleshing out.   That is why I asked.  I hoped for more good examples of the real subjects.  I had a friend ask me and I told him I'd research some better answers for him.   Sadly the knee jerk crowd can't even have a reasonable discussion about something. 
DM Empowerment: The freedom a DM feels to ignore the rules and adjudicate situations as he/she sees fit.  I think older editions of the rules were bigger on DM empowerment as the rules were lighter on specifics.  Newer editions went toward less DM empowerment by creating rules for myriad situations.  While I prefer more DM empowerment, I understand there are situations where less is needed (new DMs, bad DMs, killer DMs).

Player Empowerment: (for the record I think "entitlement" is a loaded word) I think Player empowerment is the primarily the freedom a DM gives his players to play their characters the way they want, and to make significant, permanent changes to the campaign setting.  In a secondary sense this also refers back to the rules.  If everything a character can do it codified, that restricts Player empowerment.  In a more open, "rules lite" type of system, Player empowerment is enhanced. I think this is also divided between old and new editions around the year 2000.

Kalex the Omen 
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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

DM Empowerment is encouraged by game design that has fewer hard and fast rules for game building and task resolution. Expecting the DMs to adjudicate more, on the fly or on their own, than a set of rules that is more comprehensive in game building areas.

Player Entitlement is encouraged by game design that has a more comprehensive set of character creation options, clearly defining the results and effects of character abilities and features, as well as much of the character task resolution. Expecting the DM conform to the task resolution rules (where the rules define DCs, for the DM, more comprehensively, as one example) and allow defined character creation options, RAW.

As Qmark stated, they are not mutually exclusive; mainly because they only overlap in areas of task resolution.

EDIT: Edited for a misplaced phrase (palm brushed touchpad while typing, I guess).
I am shocked that no one can give a legitimate answer.

That's because there isn't one.  The terms are inherently pejorative, combative, adversarial.

The legitimate question is:  Who should be in control of the game?

The answer of the people who use these terms is "Me, and not you."

I find the attitude, from both sides, damaging to the hobby, destructive to the community, and not something that should be brought forward.



You don't even know what you are talking about on this subject Mand.  You've obviously read some boards somewhere where a bunch of people that know nothing of what they speak where exchanging barbs.   Neither term is pejorative.  It is descriptive of a playstyle.  You can like or dislike that playstyle and thus perhaps that makes it bad for you.

I did ask the question because I perceived there is a lot of misunderstanding.  And I agree my own definitions could use some additional fleshing out.   That is why I asked.  I hoped for more good examples of the real subjects.  I had a friend ask me and I told him I'd research some better answers for him.   Sadly the knee jerk crowd can't even have a reasonable discussion about something. 


There are different playstyles, yes.  There are playstyles where the DM is in complete control.  There are playstyles where the DM is one player out of many and everything is collaborative.  Neither is inherently, objectively superior.  I know full well they exist.

The issue that I raised, and that you seem so eager to dismiss, is that these terms represent conflicts in the preferred playstyles of different people.  They're used to say "This playstyle is bad, because XYZ."  They're used solely for denigration, insult, ridicule, and accusations of badwrongfun.

My point, that you seem to be missing, is that while you do have a legitimate question about the impacts that different styles of control can have on the game, these terms specifically are loaded terms.  Whether you acknowledge that or not is irrelevant.

It's not knee-jerk, and frankly being accused of it is insulting on your part, and an indication that you are the one speaking about things you don't know.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition


The issue that I raised, and that you seem so eager to dismiss, is that these terms represent conflicts in the preferred playstyles of different people.  They're used to say "This playstyle is bad, because XYZ."  They're used solely for denigration, insult, ridicule, and accusations of badwrongfun.
 


I am pretty sure that isnt entirely true of the term Empowerment.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

these terms specifically are loaded terms.  Whether you acknowledge that or not is irrelevant.



I think you are wrong about the use of the terms where "empowerment" is concerned.  Yes, "entitlement" is a loaded and negative term.  "Empowerment" is only positive though, which is why I changed the player term in my post.  If "DM Empowerment" has gained a negative reputation that is only because too many people (native english speakers included) don't understand the language.  If as you say it has attained a bad connotation, we need to take it back.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

I am pretty sure that isnt entirely true of the term Empowerment.




Ninja'd!  

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

The issue that I raised, and that you seem so eager to dismiss, is that these terms represent conflicts in the preferred playstyles of different people.  They're used to say "This playstyle is bad, because XYZ."  They're used solely for denigration, insult, ridicule, and accusations of badwrongfun.

Mand, there isn't a blanket use of the terms. While I admit that they can be used that way; I certainly don't use them that way. I also realize that others can use them constructively as well.

these terms specifically are loaded terms.  Whether you acknowledge that or not is irrelevant.



I think you are wrong about the use of the terms where "empowerment" is concerned.  Yes, "entitlement" is a loaded and negative term.  "Empowerment" is only positive though, which is why I changed the player term in my post.  If "DM Empowerment" has gained a negative reputation that is only because too many people (native english speakers included) don't understand the language.  If as you say it has attained a bad connotation, we need to take it back.


People who say they want DM Empowerment tend to want the anointment of official sanction to do things to the campaign that the players don't want, and then point to the officialness and say "See!  It's not me not listening to you, it's what the book says!"  I've seen it turn up in the alignment discussions, paladins in general, the warlord raging, martial healing, the rogue trick Taunt discussion, anything touching on "verisimilitude" or the gamist/simulationist divide, etc.  I could go on.

The point is, "DM Empowerment" is used as a counter to "Player Empowerment" (to use the euphemized term, it really is about entitlement on all sides), to complain about some upstart whippersnapper of a player wanting to use some feature that conflicts with how the DM wants the game to be run.  Whether it's alignment or martial healing, the notion that poor, mistreated DMs will be subjected, nay, forced to deal with things they don't have the courage to step up as a DM and ban as something counter to their intended world, that's when "DM Empowerment" comes up.

Could the term be used positively?  Sure.  But that's only semantics:  the true thrust of the argument, the source of the disagreement, the question of who is in control of the game, that is what drives nearly all of the "debate" on this forum, elsewhere on the internet, and at tables around the world.  I applaud those of you who want to have a rational conversation about it, to try to walk back from the flamewars that this issue is the foundation for, but you do everyone a disservice by pretending it doesn't exist and that we can all be happy and use the terms non-confrontationally.  Whether the people making the "DM Empowerment" argument even actually use the words "DM Empowerment" is largely irrelevant - the thrust of the argument remains, no matter what you feel like calling it.

And yes, the other side is equally to blame.  Whether it's DMs complaining about their whiny players or players complaining about their jerk DM, the core problem is the same.  Two sides of the coin, same issue to resolve.

If you want to resolve it, start by talking about how control of the game works, how different styles of control impact the flow of story, progression, game, etc.  Setting up the battle lines between DM and players is a nonstarter, and making that clear is my ultimate point.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I've seen these terms used more in describing the relationship between developers and players than anything else and usually more in line with PC/console gamers and their developers.  As a role-playing idea I can't say I have heard it much but I expect it probobly comes from the evolution of D&D in which the DM was once a ruler of the game, in charge of not just interpreting the rules but managing and making use of that as he saw fit.  Interjecting special circumstances and effects for things that might not work when they should or have effects when they shouldn't  By the 4th generation of D&D the concept of player entitlement over DM empowerment came to be used (rarely) in describing the fact that the system now favors the player and the rules over empowering the DM.  The DM would be expected to follow the rules.


"Edition wars like all debates exist because people like debates"

http://www.gamersdungeon.net/

The terms don't really mean anything to me. As an old school gamer, I have witnessed the change in our hobby over the decades.

In 1E, the game was mostly about surviving the various dungeons with as much loot as you could. The DM was mostly the Referee who had little investment in the party or the adventure. As a neutral party, the DM thus had absolute control over the game. Sadly, quite a few jerks used this power to abuse their players, giving rise to the "killer DM." (oddly, by modern standards, I'm considered a killer DM because I have no problem with a TPK).

In 2E, the game became more focused on storytelling and epic adventures. The DM became more invested in the party, because they usually wrote the story around the PCs. The players had a little more control over the game, but not much. The dirty little secret that most player's don't get, is that most DMs WANT the players to win, but they want them to work for it. Many people I know IRL consider 2E to be the Golden Age of D&D (not for it's mechanics though... mostly those were pretty terrible by modern standards).

In 3E, the game altered radically (yes, it began at the end of 2E, but I'm simplifying) with a slew of new rules that detailed out EVERYTHING. I consider this the Rise of the Rules Lawyer, because even though they've always existed 3E gave them some heavy ammo. Most 3E games I experienced were a tug-of-war between DMs and Players over control of the game. The DM usually won, but it created an adversarial environment, IMO.

In 4E, the game pushed the DM into the role of First among Equals. The DMG had specific guidelines on Encounter Structure and Treasure Distribution, and I know of several groups that forced the DM to "play the game right" (i.e. follow the guidelines exactly) rather than the game they wanted. I know of 3 DMs who quit; not just DMing, but the hobby altogether, because they couldn't accept this limitation. Interestingly, the group I know that still plays 4E moved beyond this limitation, allowing the DM to truly run the game.

I think the pendulum is swinging back the other way. The DM is not the First Among Equals, but he is not God-King either. This is where it should be, IMO. The DM should have the freedom to run their game, so long as the Players are willing to accept it. Thus, to keep the Players, the DM has to work with the Players to find an acceptable compromise.

It doesn't mean anything.

At some tables, the DM is a control freak, at others, the DM is a push over.

I'm a fairly easy going DM. My players are free to make up their own feats, classes, prestige classes, powers, etc... It needs to go through DM validation and I always warn them that if something turns out to be too powerful, it will be toned down in between sessions.

During play, I'm not as easy going. If one of my players disagrees with one of my rulings during a climatic moment of  the adventure, I give him a minute or two to present his case and that's it. A 5-10 minute break to check/analyze the rules is no fun for the other players. The rest of the time, I just ask the player to check for the rules while the others continue playing. Whinny players that spend most of the session interupting everybody's fun to scavange a +1 bonus to a skill check are not welcome at my table. I prefer resolving rules disputes at the end of the session though.


There's one thing for sure. DM/Player empowerment as used on these forums is a huge pile of BS. It's your DM's prerogative to adjudicate regardless of the edition you play. You need to ask for your DM's permission to make up homebrew stuff (like refluffing). If your DM consistently ignores the rules, he's not going to have a lot of players. The only games that aren't like that are the ones without a DM (i.e. board games and video games).

1st - I completely agree with Mand12 that "entitlement" is now a flame/troll term. Regardless of how the question is posed, or the intentions behind it, the word is too loaded.

2nd - IMO the question is "What does DM agency and Player Agency mean to you?"

Player agency is total control over the creation and playing of their character. Effectively they're responsible for a good portion of their own fun and for all of their actions. Player agency should be unlimited until/unless it infringes on hard-coded rules of the game. "I want to take 5 actions" should be met with "you only have time for one. What do you do?"

A little more on player agency. The DM has created a world with, say, no elves. Or disallows "the class that cannot be named." But a player wants to play one. Player agency here means the DM & Player need to work together to achieve a compromise as close to the player's vision as possible. "I want to be an elf" shouldn't be met with "No elves." It should be met with "This world has no elves. Are you wanting to use elf mechanics/racial benefits or to play a woodland fey?" "Can I be the only elf in the world?" "Sure." The player has autonomy over his character, but not the DM's world.

DM agency is total control over the campaign setting and existence of in-game objects and NPCs. DM agency is control over all game elements with which PCs are NOT currently interacting. When the PCs are not present, DM controls whatever happens & what exists. It also includes the unfettered authority to apply (or ignore) hard-coded rules.

DM agency is somewhat limited when the PCs are interacting with the game world. PCs are invested with the power to change what happens in the game. "I kill the NPC." The DM can't say "No, you can't." He can ask for initiative and start combat or have the npc run or summon powerful allies. The DM cannot override the PC's declared action. The DM must effectively "play to find out what happens." When a player complains "That NPC is taking too many actions!" The DM, can say "this is what he's doing. What are you doing?" While including freedom to break, ignore, or modify any hard-coded rules, DM agency also includes DM responsibility - an implied social contract that the DM will not "cheat" or end-around player's agency. If breaking the rules is happening, DM must make clear that this is a special circumstance or that the normal rules don't apply because of some in-game influence (and not DM fiat).
DM empowerment is the ability for DMs to provide the game they want with little disagreement of their players. Player entittlement is the abilty for players to play the characters they want with little disagreement of the DM. Basically both are the abilty for your character to do something and have little explanation or argument about the process or result of the action.



Then why is one 'empowerment' and the other 'entitlement'? You (or perhaps just the OP?) seem to be suggesting they are closely related, but you are using a term with a negative connotation  to describe one and using a term with a positive connotation to describe the other. That doesn't seem entirely objective.

 

"What is the sort of thing that I do care about is a failure to seriously evaluate what does and doesn't work in favor of a sort of cargo cult posturing. And yes, it's painful to read design notes columns that are all just "So D&D 3.5 sort of had these problems. We know people have some issues with them. What a puzzler! But we think we have a solution in the form of X", where X is sort of a half-baked version of an idea that 4e executed perfectly well and which worked fine." - Lesp

Player Empowerment: (for the record I think "entitlement" is a loaded word) I think Player empowerment is the primarily the freedom a DM gives his players to play their characters the way they want, and to make significant, permanent changes to the campaign setting.  In a secondary sense this also refers back to the rules.  If everything a character can do it codified, that restricts Player empowerment.  In a more open, "rules lite" type of system, Player empowerment is enhanced. I think this is also divided between old and new editions around the year 2000.



Rules-light systems where the player must constantly ask the DM for permission are not empowering. (There are certainly rules-light systems out there where the players are empowered to act without reference to the DM, but D&D is not one of them.) Codified rules do not restrict the limits of player actions, unless the rules somehow say "You may only try these actions and no others." 

"DM, may I..." is not empowerment. "DM, I will..." is.

 
Player Empowerment: (for the record I think "entitlement" is a loaded word) I think Player empowerment is the primarily the freedom a DM gives his players to play their characters the way they want, and to make significant, permanent changes to the campaign setting.  In a secondary sense this also refers back to the rules.  If everything a character can do it codified, that restricts Player empowerment.  In a more open, "rules lite" type of system, Player empowerment is enhanced. I think this is also divided between old and new editions around the year 2000.



Rules-light systems where the player must constantly ask the DM for permission are not empowering. (There are certainly rules-light systems out there where the players are empowered to act without reference to the DM, but D&D is not one of them.) Codified rules do not restrict the limits of player actions, unless the rules somehow say "You may only try these actions and no others." 

"DM, may I..." is not empowerment. "DM, I will..." is.

 



Rules light does not mean "DM may I?"  That is a myth.  Rules light means you can do whatever your imagination can come up with and the DM will figure out a way to adjudicate it.  Rules heavy systems restrict empowerment because they codify all the things characters can do, leaving nothing to the imagination (and often containing kludgefests of rules are are ridiculously complicated).

I have never in 35 years ever had a player who was so timid that they asked, "DM may I?"  They always say, "[character name], is..." and I am expected to figure out how to adjudicate it.  And this is from a pool of perhaps some of the most traditionally, socially timid people on the planet.  Your hyperbole hurts your argument, it doesn't help it. 

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Player Empowerment: (for the record I think "entitlement" is a loaded word) I think Player empowerment is the primarily the freedom a DM gives his players to play their characters the way they want, and to make significant, permanent changes to the campaign setting.  In a secondary sense this also refers back to the rules.  If everything a character can do it codified, that restricts Player empowerment.  In a more open, "rules lite" type of system, Player empowerment is enhanced. I think this is also divided between old and new editions around the year 2000.



Rules-light systems where the player must constantly ask the DM for permission are not empowering. (There are certainly rules-light systems out there where the players are empowered to act without reference to the DM, but D&D is not one of them.) Codified rules do not restrict the limits of player actions, unless the rules somehow say "You may only try these actions and no others." 

"DM, may I..." is not empowerment. "DM, I will..." is.

 



Rules light does not mean "DM may I?"  That is a myth.  Rules light means you can do whatever your imagination can come up with and the DM will figure out a way to adjudicate it.  Rules heavy systems restrict empowerment because they codify all the things characters can do, leaving nothing to the imagination (and often containing kludgefests of rules are are ridiculously complicated).

I have never in 35 years ever had a player who was so timid that they asked, "DM may I?"  They always say, "[character name], is..." and I am expected to figure out how to adjudicate it.  And this is from a pool of perhaps some of the most traditionally, socially timid people on the planet.  Your hyperbole hurts your argument, it doesn't help it. 



In my 35 years (and why do people keep waving around the amount of time they've played D&D as if it adds any weight to their argument?) I've had more problems with DMs restricting actions than I have had from rules restricting actions.

And if you'd like to talk about hyperbole, I can't say I've ever seen a set of rules that codifies everything a character can do -- unless you consider a unified task-resolution system to be restrictive, which is nonsense. 

 
It's very subjective.

For me, saving throws are total player empowerment, a big hindrance regarding ease of storytelling, as AC-like defenses favor DM secret checks and never establish a double standard in the players' eyes, as every DM check become a secret check by default.

I never felt more "empowered" as a DM since AD&D 1st ed than with 4th edition.

And I think we can find a lot of posters in these forums who do not agree with me…

The only things we can obtain with this thread are subjective points of view, which is interesting, but I don't think we really can reach a "solution".

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

I've had more problems with DMs restricting actions than I have had from rules restricting actions.




Sounds like you've had some bummer DM experiences, which is what a lot of the tripe on these boards boils down to.
And if you'd like to talk about hyperbole, I can't say I've ever seen a set of rules that codifies everything a character can do -- unless you consider a unified task-resolution system to be restrictive, which is nonsense. 

 



The more actions a rule set codifies, the less of a sense there is that players can go outside of the prescribed "defined" actions.  I have seen this in action in my own group, but also at the tables of conventions as well.  The more defined actions become (and this has been a trend since at least 1976 in D&D) the less players feel like thay can perform actions that are not defined.  Especially when the culture has changed as well to teach them that relying on their DM to "figure it out" is asking for trouble.

While I disliked 3e/3.5e, I have to say I really enjoyed 4e (if you don't believe me, go back to 2008 in the archives and see how I defended it against the detractors).  However, I saw a steady reduction in creative thinking at every game table I observed with regards to character actions from 2000 to the present.  Just last week we started a 2nd Edition campaign, and you know what magically happened?  People started doing all kinds of off the wall actions, and we didn't even realize we were doing it until the session was over.

I've heard the argument that 3e/4e don't restrict actions (quoting page 42 for 4e), "all you have to do is try."  Well I don't want to have to "try."  I want it to come naturally and be encouraged by the system (not by a rule in the system, but by the system itself).  Newer versions of D&D don't encourage empowerment, they snuff it.

Kalex the Omen 
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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

Empowerment - to enable, provide authority

So DM empowerment would be a DMs ability to have authority over the game.

Having rules or not having rules does not change a DM's empowerment, it just makes their job easier (when judging that aligns with rules) or potentially harder (when judging against rules)

Entitlement is related to someone's rights. So player entitlement is what rights a player has in a game.

Varying levels of each can represent different play styles, but since there is no actual penalty to player or DM for going outside (or adhering strictly to rules) then it's kinda moot - everyone is as empowered or entitled as they want.

People may think they are more or less, but it's all perspective, not actual
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For me, saving throws are total player empowerment, a big hindrance regarding ease of storytelling, as AC-like defenses favor DM secret checks and never establish a double standard in the players' eyes, as every DM check become a secret check by default.


If you feel the need to fudge the numbers when they don't turn up with the result you've preordained that you want, why are you playing a RPG?

You would probably be happier engaging in freeform roleplaying.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I've had more problems with DMs restricting actions than I have had from rules restricting actions.




Sounds like you've had some bummer DM experiences, which is what a lot of the tripe on these boards boils down to.


I agree - but isn't that where the conflict lies on issues such as "Should the game rely more on DM fiat?"  Some people think all DMs should be 'good DMs', and others say 'well yeah, but they're not'?  (And then they all spend 1000+ posts "proving" each other wrong with anecdotes and "Well I'm a good DM"-ing.)
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DM Empowerment was (among other things) a term used by the administrators of LFR to try to differentiate LFR from previous living campaigns. (If you're not familiar, LFR is the 4e "Living" campaign run by the RPGA. Like all Living campaigns, there's a set of adventure modules published for free consumption, and an accompanying set of campaign rules. While sticking to those adventures and campaign rules, players can freely move from one DM to another, even across state or country lines, while staying within the same "campaign". Much of the power a DM would normally have in a home campaign has to be waved or moved to the campaign docs to keep this balanced. That way there's no risk of a monte haul DM giving his PCs a bunch of uber artifacts at level 1 and then one of those PCs carries it over to another DMs table, or one DM playing super-low-magic and then one of their PCs joins the monte haul DM's table and is a huge liability because he's so far behind par.)

Traditionally, a part of the Living campaign experience is the adventures are meant to be run as written, as fairly as possible. The idea is to keep the unified idea that everyone is playing the same adventures, and minimize any easy DM v hard DM contrast, etc.

LFR tried to break with that tradition, to a degree, by putting "DM Empowerment" into the campaign docs. DMs weren't given carte blanche to do whatever (see My Realms for a partial exception), but they were free to add/remove monsters from encounters to achieve a challenge appropriate to the party (beyond the scaling suggested based on level/quantity of PCs), as well as rewrite much of the details of the story. I've seen a few instances where "DM Empowerment" has made an adventure so completely different that you'd never recognize it as the same adventure at all. (It was glorious! Definitely a good thing in my experiences, but I could see how it -could- go horribly, horribly wrong.)

Basically this was a reaction to the sense that DMs were a little too tied up in Living Campaigns, overly strictly bound by the adventures that were presented. Good DMs could take the adventure and tweak it in a way that would be more fun for the party playing it. New DMs would typically stay true to the adventure, particularly if they lacked confidence to make changes. 

This form of "DM Empowerment" is pretty widely considered a good thing, and most of the arguments have been over what is or is not included within DME, and whether it should go farther. To a significant extent, I think the wind left the sails of the arguments as soon as the My Realms rules came out. These allow DMs to basically write their own adventures, with some vague suggestion guidelines for contents, and some strict limits on treasures they can give out. 
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