It Occurs to Me

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It occurs to me that some people design adventures and (potential) encounters under the expectation that the characters in the group will all make a substantial contribution in combat. What if that is not the case? What if a group has a few who can whup ass, but the majority are not so hot at laying down the pain? How would you, how could you adjust for those circumstances?

How would your designs change? How would play change; your running of the game, how the players behave, what you focus on, emphasize?

In Mythus certain Vocations (classes) are dedicated to combat, the Cavalier or Soldier for example. Others, such as the Wise Man/Woman, The theurgist, or the Merchant are not. If D&D were the same way, with combat (dealing damage) and non combat classes how would it affect adventure design? Encounters?

How large would the encounters be? How would they tend to behave? Would they be as eager to fight if they included non-combatants in their ranks?

Would you trust a party composed entirely of fighters, if you had a real choice?

(Stray thoughts, comment as you wish.)
One dagger is a plot point. A thousand daggers is inventory. Thank you for disrailing this thread.
I'd make encounters that were about more than just killing the other side.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Make sure your combats are such that the non-combat-focused characters aren't just sitting on the sidelines watching the fighters clean up. Maybe there's nowhere good for them to hide, and they've gotta be evading the bad guys - this not only gives them something to do, but also encourages the fighters to help protect their friends, not just smack their swords on the biggest enemy. Maybe there are some bad guys on the fringes of the fight that the weaker characters can pick fights with while the fighters go toe-to-toe with the main force. For example, while the big brawl is going on in the center of the courtyard, the lightweights can move around the perimeter of the courtyard, killing some frail sling-weilding enemies.


I like playing characters that are lighter in combat, and I don't need to be able to contribute as much as a beefy fighter. I just need something meaningful to do in combat. Shoot, I'd probably have even more fun trying to make the fighters come to my rescue all the time. But if you don't give your noncombat players anything more than chuck rocks at the bad guys for 1d4 damage, they'll get bored real fast.
There are plenty of games that are not focused on combat. WoD, Call of Cthulhu, the Gumshoe System, etc...

As for D&D:

First of all, if we are talking about  4e, this is not an issue. if anything, the fighter is more of a support unit in the fight when compared to the traditional "skills" character, the rogue.  Unless a player goes out of their way to ignore the rules, their powers or common sense, their characters WILL make a valuable contribution to combat, and you shouldn't have to deviate from the regular ways of designing an encounter.

If we are talking 3.x, then everything is possible. 3.x is very much a sink-or-swim system mastery game where you can easily end up with a character that cannot do anything, or you can have pun-pun (Who can kill gods before out he gets out of his diapers..) all in the same party. For an open-ended game like this, you need to have an idea about what the players want from the game and see how this reconciles with your plans. 
Also, tell your players to read the skill descriptions more carefully. There is plenty you can do in combats with the skills that nobody ever does.

If you are playing earlier editions, grin and chuckle. Encourage your players to think of solutions that are outside of the standard rules of the game so they avoid having to deal with things in terms of combat if combat is a problem.  

Would I trust a party consisting only of fighters?
If the alternative would be Magic-Users, Thieves, Travelling Buskers, Clerics of a different faith, or raging barbarians, then the answer is Most Definitely. The fighter has always been the most universally socially accepted class in the D&D Universe. 
 
Mad Scientist
If I had a group like that, where 3 of the 5, for example, were deliberately designed to be bad at combat, I'd probably recommend that we switch systems. Something like FATE would be better suited to the game that group wanted to play.

And I'd sort of wonder how they found their way to my table....since that's not the style of DMing I particularly enjoy. I like playing in games like that, but I don't really care for DMing them.
I'd make encounters that were about more than just killing the other side.

That in itself is not enough. It is all about how much time each player spends at a certain moment at the game. The longer one player has nothing to interact with, the more likely that player is to be really bored. Not too long ago one of my characters was the only one able to do somehting about the true goal of the encounter while the others were busy fighting. It ended up with me being busy 30 seconds for every 25 minutes of the rest and having absolutely no vested interest in what was going on in the fight which was basically a distraction. It was a rather boring 1.5 hours even though what my character did was fairly important for the overall success of the adventure. Of course, the reverse is true as well. I have had my fair share of conversations with players of characters with the silent brooding anti-social types that they designed their PCs and that while I certainly have no objection to run a very combat oriented game his fellow players want something more out of the game. It is also partially up to the player to make sure the PC has something to do in situations that do not involve combat.

In itself I have no issues with systems were not everybody is equally good in a fight. It requires a game though where fights either don't take up much time, or allow the non-combatants to do equally time consuming stuff as the fighters in the company. It is not just about each PC having a shining moment. It is also about how long a character is in the center stage and how much that has to do with character build and player's personality.
I'd make encounters that were about more than just killing the other side.

That in itself is not enough. It is all about how much time each player spends at a certain moment at the game. The longer one player has nothing to interact with, the more likely that player is to be really bored.

I'd make interesting encounters that were about more than just killing the other side, probably inspired by my players telling me what they find interesting, instead of what I think they should find interesting.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

It is all about how much time each player spends at a certain moment at the game.



Advice: Call upon each player to spend the amount to time, participate to the degree they feel comfortable with. If they feel comfortable with five minutes out of each how, then let them have their five minutes.

Where post battle clean-up is concerned, let the non-combat characters look over the stuff the fighters find and report on it. Means extra work for the DM, but it'll mean a lot for the game.
One dagger is a plot point. A thousand daggers is inventory. Thank you for disrailing this thread.
SMH.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Ignore Condor's advice please.  It is all well and good to work to populate your world realisticaly and DM's should have the final say in house rulings and table rulings.  However Condor's style of DM takes all, power tripping, my way or the highway gaming is not a good style.  It doesn't hold up under anything but a genius DM or browbeat players and it has a unique power to turn good DMs into power tripping monsters.

The game was meant to be played together and while the group vests some authority in the DM that authority isn't and shouldn't be absolute. 
Ignore Condor's advice please.  It is all well and good to work to populate your world realisticaly and DM's should have the final say in house rulings and table rulings.  However Condor's style of DM takes all, power tripping, my way or the highway gaming is not a good style.  It doesn't hold up under anything but a genius DM or browbeat players and it has a unique power to turn good DMs into power tripping monsters.

The game was meant to be played together and while the group vests some authority in the DM that authority isn't and shouldn't be absolute. 


+1

DM power trips really only work for hardcore dungeon crawls and other roleplay-light games, and 4E doesn't really work well with that nonsense in any case.   
Real dungeon masters seem to all understand what I am saying and see the rational take on things I have(people who lack good experience in the DMing area seem to not get many things I state online, due to their lack of experience in my view). I don't view the game as DM vs. Player, I want my players to have success always and a fun time.


You know, when you commit a No True Scotsman right there, exactly like that, it destroys any ability anyone has to take you seriously.  Well, the rest of your post did THAT admirably, actually.  But the No  True Scotsman really doesn't help.

You seriously come in here and tell us that any DM who runs a collaborative world isn't a real DM?  Any DM who takes player input on what they want to see in a campaign, what they want to do, isn't a real DM?  Any DM who works with the players to build a setting that everyone enjoys isn't a real DM?  Any DM who does anything that doesn't fit into your narrow, pathetic little box that is labeled "I DMED THIS WAY FOR 40 YEARS AND IF IT WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOUR GRANDPA IT'S GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU" isn't a real DM?  

Seriously mate, are you some sort of parody account?  

(P.S.  No true Dungeonmaster would run a campaign like you do.  Tata~)
Well maybe you just happen to be a genius DM Condor, or maybe your players are so used to midcority in their games and they find enough fun in the experience that it doesn't really matter.  I don't know I don't know you.  All I can say is that every game that I have ever seen run by a DM following your rules or heard about from players playing under such a DM is that it doesn't work and leads to sucky experience.

Oldschool games were predominantly fairly strange little clubs of ego.  There is a reason that D&D is as marginal a part of the geek community as it is and it has everything to do with how the oldschool people represented it and played it.  We shouldn't be taking advice from the past, a time when nobody knew what they were doing because the game, hell the genre, had just been invented. 
Well maybe you just happen to be a genius DM Condor, or maybe your players are so used to midcority in their games and they find enough fun in the experience that it doesn't really matter.  I don't know I don't know you.  All I can say is that every game that I have ever seen run by a DM following your rules or heard about from players playing under such a DM is that it doesn't work and leads to sucky experience.

Oldschool games were predominantly fairly strange little clubs of ego.  There is a reason that D&D is as marginal a part of the geek community as it is and it has everything to do with how the oldschool people represented it and played it.  We shouldn't be taking advice from the past, a time when nobody knew what they were doing because the game, hell the genre, had just been invented. 

As opposed to the current climate where the players are so egotistical that they actually believe the DM is their employee? Yeah. No ego there.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Wow, the vitriol is in full swing today.

Look, Condor and I run our games very differently, as do Centauri and I. But we're all having fun, and all of our players are having fun, so let's lay off the mediocre/bad DMing blasts.

A good, true DM suits his campaign to the tastes of those sitting at his table. If you've nailed that, you're well on your way to a great campaign.
Wow, the vitriol is in full swing today.

Look, Condor and I run our games very differently, as do Centauri and I. But we're all having fun, and all of our players are having fun, so let's lay off the mediocre/bad DMing blasts.

A good, true DM suits his campaign to the tastes of those sitting at his table. If you've nailed that, you're well on your way to a great campaign.



You have a point, but Condor has a problem in how he comes across. If he just said that his party appreciates his work, that would be one thing, but if you go by the way he posts you have to wonder how much fun are his players having anyway.

Then too we have only your word for how your players enjoy the game; have you ever asked them? Have you ever played in one of their games?
One dagger is a plot point. A thousand daggers is inventory. Thank you for disrailing this thread.
Three of my players don't DM. One of them probably could run a pretty good game, if the demands of a small child weren't there.

One of my players DM's at LFR. I've sat in at his table a few times.

The last of the five is running a regular bi-weekly campaign that I play in, for the last few months. He and I talk shop from time to time, and we both enjoy each others campaigns.

In general, they seem to be having a good time, and certainly tell me they are. It's a campaign that's been running a little over three years now, and I've only lost one player (to legitimate personal life crisis). Some travel over 15 miles to sit at the table every two weeks. So I think I feel justified in saying yes, they're enjoying my game.
As opposed to the current climate where the players are so egotistical that they actually believe the DM is their employee equal? Yeah. No ego there.


Fixed for accuracy in the sentiment expressed.  

Zee grog is being passed around today I see.   
As opposed to the current climate where the players are so egotistical that they actually believe the DM is their employee equal? Yeah. No ego there.

Fixed for accuracy in the sentiment expressed.  

Zee grog is being passed around today I see.   

Someone in the What's A Player To Do? forum does seem to be taking the position that the DM is, if not working for the players, expected to measure up to some bar of theirs or get back to work. I used the term "employee" because that seemed to be how this guy saw the DM, and he seemed to agree with that term.

It was one poster. Hardly a climate.

Edit: Anyway, I'm out. I made it so I can't see this thread anymore. I don't need the aggravation.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I'm with Condor on the way to DM. I like my players to interact with MY world and leave a mark on it. Sure its our world as in their characters live in it, but I made it what it is. I like them to leave lasting marks, but I don't play Mad Libs with adventures. I don't like the whole players fill in the blank style. I think it just shows how lazy of a DM you are. I understand that many people don't have time to commit to that style. But if you honestly need your players to make the adventure then you shouldn't be the DM.

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

I'm with Condor on the way to DM. I like my players to interact with MY world and leave a mark on it. Sure its our world as in their characters live in it, but I made it what it is. I like them to leave lasting marks, but I don't play Mad Libs with adventures. I don't like the whole players fill in the blank style. I think it just shows how lazy of a DM you are. I understand that many people don't have time to commit to that style. But if you honestly need your players to make the adventure then you shouldn't be the DM.



If you have to do it all, then why have players?
One dagger is a plot point. A thousand daggers is inventory. Thank you for disrailing this thread.
Someone in the What's A Player To Do? forum does seem to be taking the position that the DM is, if not working for the players, expected to measure up to some bar of theirs or get back to work. I used the term "employee" because that seemed to be how this guy saw the DM, and he seemed to agree with that term.

It was one poster. Hardly a climate.



That's me. If you don't want to provide an entertaining experience, the players will find somebody else.

(I hate typoes, especially when they're mine.)
One dagger is a plot point. A thousand daggers is inventory. Thank you for disrailing this thread.
I'm with Condor on the way to DM. I like my players to interact with MY world and leave a mark on it. Sure its our world as in their characters live in it, but I made it what it is. I like them to leave lasting marks, but I don't play Mad Libs with adventures. I don't like the whole players fill in the blank style. I think it just shows how lazy of a DM you are. I understand that many people don't have time to commit to that style. But if you honestly need your players to make the adventure then you shouldn't be the DM.



If you have to do it all, then why have players?


So they can play in my world. They don't come to play the game to build the world they interact in. They come to play in the world I present to them. 

You may be getting the idea that I don't use improvisation. And that's not the case. I do. But I most certainly don't ask my players "Well what happens?".  

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

It occurs to me that some people design adventures and (potential) encounters under the expectation that the characters in the group will all make a substantial contribution in combat. What if that is not the case? What if a group has a few who can whup ass, but the majority are not so hot at laying down the pain? How would you, how could you adjust for those circumstances?

How would your designs change? How would play change; your running of the game, how the players behave, what you focus on, emphasize?
 

Since our major switch to a game system in which 60% of the careers are not combat specialized, I've had to change the way that I approach scenarios. (we stitched to wfrp3 btw..but the method carries over to our 5e playtests)

We do a LOT more skill checks and a LOT more mysteries and dare I say it, 'role' playing with handouts, clues, gimmicks, mac guffins, and player-read-aloud stuff.

Not doing the traditional combat-heavy D&D style of game requires a bit more GM preparation, but if you simply throw a lot more skill checks at them, you can still get a non-combat feel mechanically without the /burden/ of a typical non-combat game ;)

jh

Gamer Chiropractor - Hafner Chiropractic 305 S. Kipling st,Suite C-2, Lakewood, Co 80226 hafnerchiropractic.com

So they can play in my world. They don't come to play the game to build the world they interact in. They come to play in the world I present to them. 

You may be getting the idea that I don't use improvisation. And that's not the case. I do. But I most certainly don't ask my players "Well what happens?".  



I can see them not having to improvise, but do you let them?
One dagger is a plot point. A thousand daggers is inventory. Thank you for disrailing this thread.
So they can play in my world. They don't come to play the game to build the world they interact in. They come to play in the world I present to them. 

You may be getting the idea that I don't use improvisation. And that's not the case. I do. But I most certainly don't ask my players "Well what happens?".  



I can see them not having to improvise, but do you let them?


It would depend on the situation. Some situations would be more geared towards allowing players to improv for themselves. But most don't.

I normally would only allow a player to improv for minor things. And not things like NPC motives, monsters, and treasure. I've seen DMs let players choose those things...

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

It would depend on the situation. Some situations would be more geared towards allowing players to improv for themselves. But most don't.

I normally would only allow a player to improv for minor things. And not things like NPC motives, monsters, and treasure. I've seen DMs let players choose those things...



Even if it would ease your job and improve the game?

DM (musing with a friend): Maybe his Uncle Fred has something for Blagdar the Mighty to do, like deliver that shipment of saddles to the arsenal.

Friend (getting into the mood): And on the way there a brigand band waylays the caravan in order to get the saddles for some scheme of their's...

Remember, half the DM's job is getting the players to bollix themselves up.
One dagger is a plot point. A thousand daggers is inventory. Thank you for disrailing this thread.
So they can play in my world. They don't come to play the game to build the world they interact in. They come to play in the world I present to them. 

You may be getting the idea that I don't use improvisation. And that's not the case. I do. But I most certainly don't ask my players "Well what happens?".  



I can see them not having to improvise, but do you let them?


It would depend on the situation. Some situations would be more geared towards allowing players to improv for themselves. But most don't.

I normally would only allow a player to improv for minor things. And not things like NPC motives, monsters, and treasure. I've seen DMs let players choose those things...

What happens? Well... I find a +50 vorpal sword and a bottle of experience points is what happens. And the other players begin bowing and scraping to my awesome-ness is what happens. And I suddenly gain damage reduction, fire immunity, cold immunity and a box of popcorn that I can throw at my enemies for an auto-kill by choke hazard.

And such power and knowledge totally blows everyone's mind and they give me all their stuff. Everybody. All the NPC's and monsters, too. It's so awesome. Oh.. and XRAY power. And immunity to 'bad stuff'.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Sir_Joseph_the_Crowe

You know what I mean.

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

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Maybe there are some bad guys on the fringes of the fight that the weaker characters can pick fights with while the fighters go toe-to-toe with the main force. For example, while the big brawl is going on in the center of the courtyard, the lightweights can move around the perimeter of the courtyard, killing some frail sling-weilding enemies.



www.egscomics.com/?date=2004-04-02 and www.egscomics.com/?date=2004-04-05

"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
in my experience, a party of two, consisting of a talky person and a fighty person, will constantly be at odds.

The talky person wants to solve everything with words, and the fighty person wants to solve everything with weapons/fists.

Why does this happen?  is it because the two people are fundamentally greedy?  because they want to steal the thunder from the other person?  because they honestly believe that EVERY problem can be solved with words/fists?

not really, no.

Instead, this fundamental game approach problem arises because no one wants to be LEFT OUT OF THE ACTION.  Now, in "action" here i'm referring to anything interesting going on....a debate, a fight, an investigation, a spy mission, or whatever.

In D&D, if there was a character who was "worthless" in combat, whether actually worthless or percieved worthless, who literally COULD NOT effect the outcome in any meaningful way, then that character might as well go play on the computer or watch TV every time an encounter comes up in D&D. 

Of course, the DM could do some serious designing and set up the encounter to include all the characters, but thats a hell of a lot of work on the DM, especially to do that repeatedly.

It all comes down to the basic belief that ALL of the people playing D&D (DMs and players) show up to have fun.  doing NOTHING is not fun.  Therefore the DM AND the players should be working to minimize the downtime of EVERYONE in the group.  Even an encounter with 2 scenes going on simultaneously is really just swapping off two groups between doing something, and doing nothing.

I have my own suspicions about those other RPGs which have a much lower focus on combat.  When combat breaks out, what do the non-combat characters do?  are the players having fun while its happening?  I don't think i would be, but i can really only speak for myself.               
It occurs to me that some people design adventures and (potential) encounters under the expectation that the characters in the group will all make a substantial contribution in combat.


I don't know who those people are.  I think most DMs design adventures for the party their players put together.

Would you trust a party composed entirely of fighters, if you had a real choice?


I wouldn't trust a party of adventurers of any combination.  Adventurers are crazy!  (Not sure what "trust" has to do with the topic though.)
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