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

"Player entitlement" and "DM empowerment" are buzzwords for people who take this game a little too seriously. Bottom line: Everyone at the table should be having fun.

Stop the H4TE

Completely false. It is advice. That's it.



It's not and you've already been proven wrong by the rule book quote someone else posted.



I've seen no such quote. Please, direct me to it.

Either way, the rest of my post stands, unless you can refute it.

Knowing the game's math does not mean throwing immersion under the bus.



It's called meta-gaming, pure and simple.



No, it's not. Do your players know how much damage they do? Their attack bonuses? Their defenses? Their own remaining HP?

If not, you're playing a different game from the rest of us, and have a totally borked idea of what metagaming is.

Those numbers, like the numerical bonuses or penalties from circumstances, represent in-world things that the characters know about via in world terms, with roughly as much accuracy as the players knows about them via numbers.

If characters know pretty well how good they are at defending themselves against attack, roughly how much of a beating they can take and keep going (without the sort of help represented by healing), how good they are at killing things with a sword, etc, they know how good they are at jumping, and how much their circumstance is working for or against their success.

Jumping is a great example, because like all apes, humans are very good at accurately judging distance vs jumping ability intuitively. Much better than "this is going to be a hard jump. no easy hop, this". The most vague you could get and still be accurate to how good we are judging such things would be something like, "you've roughly a 30 to 40 percent chance of success. While still possible, you intuitively know that you're going to require luck to succeed at this, your skill and natural abillity aren't going to be enough by themselves."

Saying that "it's a pretty hard task" is what breaks immersion, because it means that I know notably less than my character does, which means that I can't make the decision that my character would make, except by accident.

Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
 


The only way it doesn't tell you anything is if you don't have comprhension of the english language.  And I do roll certain things for the players, or make them roll behind my screen so they cannot see the result.  Spot checks, searching for traps or secret doors.  All of these things are ruined when the player knows the result.



My English comprehension is just fine.  Rolling behind the scenes when players are unaware of something is also fine, their is nothing to know so the rolls drive the story and its not in the players control.  I'm talking about players trying to make a decesion about things that hindge on your ability to define them.

Player: "Im going to try to jump this over this chasm".... 
DM: "This Chasm is 30 feet, with a running jump this will still be pretty difficult,, if you miss it, you will fall to your death into the chasm below"
Player:  "Ok Im doing it..." Rolls dice... fails
DM "You fall of the cliff"

Now try it my way.

Player: "Im going to try to jump this over this chasm".... 
DM: "This Chasm is 30 feet, with a running jump this will still be pretty difficult, -10 penalty on the jump roll, if you miss it, you will fall to your death into the chasm below"
Player:  "Ok Im doing it..." Rolls dice... fails
DM "You fall of the cliff"

I don't see how Emersion is lost in either scenario whatsoever.  The only real difference is that in your version, the player was rolling a random die without any real clue as to wether or not he was going to make it.  In mine, he knows the risks exactly.



First, it does spoil immersion to a degree.  The more technical numbers you throw out, the more you get pulled out of immersion in game and into the mechanics of the game.  Second, if you can't get a real clue whether you will make it or not from the word DIFFICULT, then maybe you do have issues with the language. 

Let's try an expirement.  If one DM said that the jump would be easy, and another DM said the jump would be difficult, which jump are you more likely to succeed at?  If you can tell the difference between those two jumps, then you do in fact have a clue.




When difficult could mean anything from a minor penalty to near impossible, the issue isn't with the listener's language skills.

I sort of like Knowing how difficult a task is when I come to it. For example, saying "Jumping over the chasm is difficult" I'm going to respond with "How difficult?" and then look to see where my Strength score is. Is it difficult for a normal person with Str 10 or how about someone like Conan with a Strength of 20?



Exactly. You could either have a whole conversation to figure out what your character would know instantly upon looking at the jump (or other task), or just get an idea of the percent chance of success quickly, and then make an in character decision as to whether it's worth the risk.


I understand your playstyle, I just think that it is joyless.  You must be heroic and awesome all the time.  There is no room for blunder, or comic relief.


While I totally think PCs should fail from time to time, I like to give them reasonable challenges to fail at, as opposed to having them fail at trivial problems. I've never really been a fan of those crazy situations where Conan fails the strength check with a natural 1 and then the 8 strnegth halfling nat 20s it and Conan looks like a weakling. I think it just breaks the narrative and exists just to humiliate the guy playing Conan.

I'd much prefer things be more consistent and something that the halfling can lift at all would be an automatic for Conan.




This. Han flubs his stealth in episode 6 because stealth isn't really his thing. He doesn't like it, and he's only good at it when he's in a pilot's seat. Han will never flub a pilot check. He might fail due to circumstance, but he's a good enough pilot to intuit an accurate idea of how likely that failure was before he attempted whatever he ended up failing at. (barring unforseen complications, of course)
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome

Thems sorta the breaks with a system built on randomization.  I would probably give subtle clues that the halfling doesn't stand a chance regardless of what he might roll.  At the very least Conan could try again and probably suceed, proving that his balance was off, or he gripped it with the wrong leverage.


Well, I've never really liked strength checks on d20 when the bonuses were so small. I always liked the 2E variant of using a d6 or d4 for the ability check instead to get more predictable results.


Conan is probably not the best example here.  How many times did Conan enter a city flush with money and success, only to get drunk, go whoring, and wake up with a killer hangover and nothing but the clothes on his back?  He is made to look very buffoonish in certain circumstances.  I try my best to encourage my players to roll with whatever misfortune the dice, or fate brings their way.  It makes for a much more fun game, and limits occurances of rage-quitting to non-existant.



Well that's different, because Conan isn't really supposed to be a mastermind or a paragon of self-control. So losing your money on whores and drink isn't necessarily character destructive humiliation for him. However, making him out to be a weakling would be. Just like it'd be similar if Elminster failed a spellcraft check and didn't recognize a standard magic missile. Characters don't need to be awesome or even competent at everything, but they shouldn't fail trivial tasks in thier specialties.

Conan should *always* be able to kick in a cheap wooden door for instance.

The players in my game do not know their opponents armour class or hit points before they roll to hit it. They know THEIR capabilities, but can only make educated guesses about the oppositions.


By the same principle, they would not know EXACTLY the DC number for jumping the pit.

I think using consistent narrative terminology would go a long way to giving players the information to make informed guesses in a less immersion breaking way than actual numbers.

(As an aside, putting a bottomless pit in your game and requiring the PCs to jump it without some clever way to evade it or negate the consequences, as in one of the earlier examples, seems like kind of a dick DM move. That may just be me though.) 


The players in my game do not know their opponents armour class or hit points before they roll to hit it. They know THEIR capabilities, but can only make educated guesses about the oppositions.


By the same principle, they would not know EXACTLY the DC number for jumping the pit.

I think using consistent narrative terminology would go a long way to giving players the information to make informed guesses in a less immersion breaking way than actual numbers.

(As an aside, putting a bottomless pit in your game and requiring the PCs to jump it without some clever way to evade it or negate the consequences, as in one of the earlier examples, seems like kind of a dick DM move. That may just be me though.) 




This.  
Completely false. It is advice. That's it.



It's not and you've already been proven wrong by the rule book quote someone else posted.



I've seen no such quote. Please, direct me to it.

Either way, the rest of my post stands, unless you can refute it.

As far as any moderately confident DM is concerned everything between the covers of a rulebook, including things that say "All the rules in this book are set in stone and you must never modify them under any circumstnances," are just advice and guidelines.  

Getting back to tripping the snake & such, I think the general zietgeist of 4e is to tweak the description of the power & it's effect rather than over-rule the mechanics.  The DM (and players) are still exercising judgement and creativity, just on the story side.  

Of course, part of the problem with the image is the word 'trip' - it implies knocking the legs out from under a creature with legs, afterall, when in 3e it's jargon that mean 'knock prone,' and in 4e the only jargon is 'prone,' 'trip' never being part of the rules (it'd be fluff, which /is/ explicitly mutable).  

So if a brawling fighter knocks a snake prone, he hasn't knocked it's legs out from under it, because he's /not/ tripping it, at all (not just because it doesn't have legs) - maybe he flipped it over or tangled it's coils, so that it would have to re-coil itself to raise it's head before it could strike at full effect again.  If a Wizard uses Icy Terrain to knocke a gelatinous cube prone, he hasn't knocked it's legs out from under it - even though slipping so your legs get knocked out from under you is the usual visualization of the spell - because it doesn't have legs, instead, maybe the spell momentarily froze the outter layer of the cube's cytoplasm, rendering it unable to move normally (it could still 'crawl,' though why it's harder to hit at range, maybe the frozen cytoplasm is more likely to deflect ranged attacks than melee, which have some mass behind them?) until it circulates fresh cytoplasm to its surface.


(Though, idea of the snake being 'always prone' - something easily do-able with a monster under exception-based design - is growing on me, too.  Why wouldn't a snake be easier to hit when you're right next to it and harder to hit with a ranged attack from a distance?  It is crawling along, belly-to-the-ground all the time.)


 

 

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(As an aside, putting a bottomless pit in your game and requiring the PCs to jump it without some clever way to evade it or negate the consequences, as in one of the earlier examples, seems like kind of a dick DM move. That may just be me though.) 

It's functionally equivalent to "no, you have to defeat these monsters with violence", which is itself a dick move.

It's functionally equivalent to "no, you have to defeat these monsters with violence", which is itself a dick move.

I don't think that's apt. A bottomless pit is a "One die roll make it or die and never come back unless your party has high level magic" situation. A fight against equivalent monsters is not the same category.

Fresh as a daisy to dead as a doornail with ONE die roll is the nadir of design. Anything that gives the PC at least one opportunity to say "Screw it, I'm out of here!" is preferable.


It's functionally equivalent to "no, you have to defeat these monsters with violence", which is itself a dick move.

I don't think that's apt. A bottomless pit is a "One die roll make it or die and never come back unless your party has high level magic" situation. A fight against equivalent monsters is not the same category.

Fresh as a daisy to dead as a doornail with ONE die roll is the nadir of design. Anything that gives the PC at least one opportunity to say "Screw it, I'm out of here!" is preferable.




Honestly, the idea that the same rules and what is acceptable for monsters should also apply exactly the same way for players and PCs, is an idea that needs to be killed with fire.  I grant that it's an idea I used to have about ten years ago, but I was badly wrong.

PCs and Monsters (even NPCs) are nothing alike.  PCs are continuing participants and drivers of the campaign.  That makes them special and it also means they have to survive (or at least the group has to survive) EVERY encounter.  The Monster/NPC need only be present for one, and if the DM wants more, it can always have a 'twin brother' or whatnot.

-Polaris    

Polaris


That makes them special and it also means they have to survive (or at least the group has to survive) EVERY encounter. 

As a DM, you've never killed a PC beyond hope of return or caused a TPK?

I'm not going to criticize your preference , I'm just curious as to the perspective you approach it from. My players find it adds a certain element of spice to know that, narratively central as they may be, the world is a dangerous place and they are not guranteed to make it to the last page.

I'm more "Game of Thrones" than "LOTR".


 

[

Honestly, the idea that the same rules and what is acceptable for monsters should also apply exactly the same way for players and PCs, is an idea that needs to be killed with fire.  I grant that it's an idea I used to have about ten years ago, but I was badly wrong.
-Polaris    


I thought it was cool when I first seen it in RuneQuest in the late 70's - I have changed my mind.
  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."

 

A bottomless pit is a "One die roll make it or die and never come back unless your party has high level magic" situation. A fight against equivalent monsters is not the same category.

So it's functionally equalvent to a save-or-die, then.


It's functionally equivalent to "no, you have to defeat these monsters with violence", which is itself a dick move.

I don't think that's apt. A bottomless pit is a "One die roll make it or die and never come back unless your party has high level magic" situation. A fight against equivalent monsters is not the same category.

Fresh as a daisy to dead as a doornail with ONE die roll is the nadir of design. Anything that gives the PC at least one opportunity to say "Screw it, I'm out of here!" is preferable.




Honestly, the idea that the same rules and what is acceptable for monsters should also apply exactly the same way for players and PCs, is an idea that needs to be killed with fire.  I grant that it's an idea I used to have about ten years ago, but I was badly wrong.

PCs and Monsters (even NPCs) are nothing alike.  PCs are continuing participants and drivers of the campaign.  That makes them special and it also means they have to survive (or at least the group has to survive) EVERY encounter.  The Monster/NPC need only be present for one, and if the DM wants more, it can always have a 'twin brother' or whatnot.

-Polaris    


Well, that entirely depends on your playstyle. You may not enjoy it, but some people do.
it's not "badly wrong" or " needs to be killed in a fire", It's just something YOU don't enjoy.

To each his own  
Try radiance RPG. A complete D20 game that supports fantasy and steampunk. Download the FREE PDF here: http://www.radiancerpg.com

Of course, part of the problem with the image is the word 'trip' - it implies knocking the legs out from under a creature with legs, afterall, when in 3e it's jargon that mean 'knock prone,' and in 4e the only jargon is 'prone,' 'trip' never being part of the rules (it'd be fluff, which /is/ explicitly mutable). 


Well I think a lot of people hated the "Effect first, flavor later" concept that 4E used. Because this basically just emphasizes that the rules are god, and deemphasizes the story.

Presumably a fighter's power that trips people is a manuever that involves some kind of training and a technique. Whether it's pushing someone over with your shield or tripping them with your glaive, it's some kind of technique you've practiced that knocks people prone. And that's how it happens. Arguably sometimes this technique would work and sometimes it wouldn't.

The problem is that going with "effect first" removes any idea that there's a connected technique that you're doing. At that point your character is just holding up a card with an ability on it and saying "Rules say you go prone, therefore it happens, I don't know how, you just do."

To me, that's absolutely toxic to any kind of storytelling experience. The story should come first and for the sake of immersion, you really want your fighter PC saying "Damn the Serpent's Glaive sweep won't be able to trip a green slime becuase it has no legs!"

That's thinking about the story instead of a figurine on the board and a bunch of game constructs. But when you make it so that the rules trump all, everyone knows that the rules are god and reality bends to the effects writen on that power card, regardless of if it defies logic or common sense. So the PCs pretty much just stop listening to the story at all, because the description doesn't matter anymore. If you want people to pay attention to the story, then the story needs to be meaningful and listening to those details should help them make decisions.
[

Honestly, the idea that the same rules and what is acceptable for monsters should also apply exactly the same way for players and PCs, is an idea that needs to be killed with fire.  I grant that it's an idea I used to have about ten years ago, but I was badly wrong.
-Polaris    


I thought it was cool when I first seen it in RuneQuest in the late 70's - I have changed my mind.



Depends on the kind of game you want to play.  If you prefer a more narrativist game then you are correct.  If you prefer though a simulationist game then I beg to differ.  I prefer more simulationist games myself but I'm certain 4e lovers tend the other way in general.

 
 
(Though, idea of the snake being 'always prone' - something easily do-able with a monster under exception-based design - is growing on me, too.  Why wouldn't a snake be easier to hit when you're right next to it and harder to hit with a ranged attack from a distance?  It is crawling along, belly-to-the-ground all the time.)





Till it gets in pseudo combat stances like classic King Cobra head rising up coils under supporting .. I sweep its coils out from under it at just the right time its head cronks... now its prone.
  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."

 

The only real advantage of a unified physics model is that the physics are unified.
So it's functionally equalvent to a save-or-die, then.

A "Save or be disintegrated" might be closer. To paraphrase Miracle Max;

"It just so happens that your friend here is only dead. There's a big difference between dead and disintegrated. Dead can be raised. With disintegrated, well, with disintegrated there's usually only one thing you can do. Go through the Bag of Holding and take his share."

Knowing the game's math does not mean throwing immersion under the bus.



It's called meta-gaming, pure and simple.



So anyone that picks a handgun based on it's balistics in real life is metagaming?  The point is that characters in character will often have good information about how easy or hard a task is (if only intuitively) that sometimes is difficult to express to the player except numerically.

-Polaris



The truth is their good information from intuition is sufficient.  If they are paralyzed with indecision because they haven't been given a concrete number, then they are metagaming (using player knowledge of the mechanics of the game to inform decisions of the character).

And I think a more pertinent example would be the crossbow wizard.  The only reason a crossbow became popular for wizards in 3e+ is because they are the highest damage, ranged, simple weapon available.  Even though there are no literary examples of crossbow wizards, these players chose to use one for purely mechanical reasons that a character could not know.  I reject that reasoning and always play quarterstaff/dart/dagger wizards. 

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've seen no such quote. Please, direct me to it.



I'm not going to do the work for you, besides I have read this whole thread.  You might want to try that before jumping in, foot in mouth. 

No, it's not. Do your players know how much damage they do? Their attack bonuses? Their defenses? Their own remaining HP?

If not, you're playing a different game from the rest of us, and have a totally borked idea of what metagaming is.

Those numbers, like the numerical bonuses or penalties from circumstances, represent in-world things that the characters know about via in world terms, with roughly as much accuracy as the players knows about them via numbers.

If characters know pretty well how good they are at defending themselves against attack, roughly how much of a beating they can take and keep going (without the sort of help represented by healing), how good they are at killing things with a sword, etc, they know how good they are at jumping, and how much their circumstance is working for or against their success.

Jumping is a great example, because like all apes, humans are very good at accurately judging distance vs jumping ability intuitively. Much better than "this is going to be a hard jump. no easy hop, this". The most vague you could get and still be accurate to how good we are judging such things would be something like, "you've roughly a 30 to 40 percent chance of success. While still possible, you intuitively know that you're going to require luck to succeed at this, your skill and natural abillity aren't going to be enough by themselves."

Saying that "it's a pretty hard task" is what breaks immersion, because it means that I know notably less than my character does, which means that I can't make the decision that my character would make, except by accident.




Character stats are entirely different and are known by players to allow the game to function.  There is no such need for DCs or modifiers.  As an atheletic young man, my only knowledge about being able to make a long jump was past experience and my gut.  I didn't have percentages or modifiers.  If you use those things in a RPG you have more knowledge than your character does, who should only rely on experience and gut.

You are wrong.

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.


The players in my game do not know their opponents armour class or hit points before they roll to hit it. They know THEIR capabilities, but can only make educated guesses about the oppositions.


By the same principle, they would not know EXACTLY the DC number for jumping the pit.

I think using consistent narrative terminology would go a long way to giving players the information to make informed guesses in a less immersion breaking way than actual numbers.

(As an aside, putting a bottomless pit in your game and requiring the PCs to jump it without some clever way to evade it or negate the consequences, as in one of the earlier examples, seems like kind of a dick DM move. That may just be me though.) 




This!  We try to speak in character except where game speak must be used for clarity, and we don't give away game statistics that the characters would have no way of knowing.

I too think the pit example isn't the best, but you know how these forums go.  People make all kinds of examples to try to prove their point.  I think someone else suggested it, and I just went with it. 

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

OSR Fan? Our Big Announcement™ is here!

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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.


Polaris


That makes them special and it also means they have to survive (or at least the group has to survive) EVERY encounter. 

As a DM, you've never killed a PC beyond hope of return or caused a TPK?

I'm not going to criticize your preference , I'm just curious as to the perspective you approach it from. My players find it adds a certain element of spice to know that, narratively central as they may be, the world is a dangerous place and they are not guranteed to make it to the last page.

I'm more "Game of Thrones" than "LOTR".


 




Something else I largely agree with.  We don't know who the heroes of the story are until the story is done being told.  I've played characters who ended up being sidekicks, comic relief, minor heroes, and traitorous scum whose names ultimately were forgotten by history.  All to great effect, and while having great fun.

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.


Polaris


That makes them special and it also means they have to survive (or at least the group has to survive) EVERY encounter. 

As a DM, you've never killed a PC beyond hope of return or caused a TPK?




I've done it.  I've regretted it just about every time as well because it almost always ends the campaign right then and there and often with such recriminations that friendships have sometimes ended as well.


No one likes to lose, but character death is going to happen.  However, when the whole party dies, and especially when it happens through no fault of their own (or even the DM) but due to dumb luck (and it can and will happen if you apply the dice rigorously), it is no FUN.  Fun is supposed to be what this is about yes?

Now, if a group dies because they did something stupid (and my players will always be told if they something is really stupid...at least by desciptin and example), then so be it.  None of my players have ever taken issue with that either.

-Polaris      
To me, that's absolutely toxic to any kind of storytelling experience. The story should come first and for the sake of immersion, you really want your fighter PC saying "Damn the Serpent's Glaive sweep won't be able to trip a green slime becuase it has no legs!"

That's thinking about the story instead of a figurine on the board and a bunch of game constructs. But when you make it so that the rules trump all, everyone knows that the rules are god and reality bends to the effects writen on that power card, regardless of if it defies logic or common sense. So the PCs pretty much just stop listening to the story at all, because the description doesn't matter anymore. If you want people to pay attention to the story, then the story needs to be meaningful and listening to those details should help them make decisions.



QFT!

I agree 100%! 

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.

Thank you for the reply Polaris.

No one likes to lose, but character death is going to happen.  However, when the whole party dies, and especially when it happens through no fault of their own (or even the DM) but due to dumb luck (and it can and will happen if you apply the dice rigorously), it is no FUN.  Fun is supposed to be what this is about yes?

I think that depends on what you find "fun". A good death scene - even one you wouldn't have chosen before the combat turned against you - can be very gratifying.

Though as an aside, I have personally found adventuring parties to be much like trolls. If you don't kill every piece of them - preferably with fire or dissolving acid - they are all coming back anyways.

Stupid cleric with an invisibility ring...
Thank you for the reply Polaris.

No one likes to lose, but character death is going to happen.  However, when the whole party dies, and especially when it happens through no fault of their own (or even the DM) but due to dumb luck (and it can and will happen if you apply the dice rigorously), it is no FUN.  Fun is supposed to be what this is about yes?

I think that depends on what you find "fun". A good death scene - even one you wouldn't have chosen before the combat turned against you - can be very gratifying.

Though as an aside, I have personally found adventuring parties to be much like trolls. If you don't kill every piece of them - preferably with fire or dissolving acid - they are all coming back anyways.

Stupid cleric with an invisibility ring...

A good death scene is one with meaning.  That might mean the supreme sacrifice, or it might mean trying and just failing to get the McGuffin of ultimate power, ect.

There is nothing heroic or satisfying about dying from tetnus from a rusty nail.  Likewise there is nothing about tying to a group of skeleton archers that all happened to crit on their suprise round becaue the DM got a string of incredibly lucky rolls.

-Polaris  
A good death scene is one with meaning. 

Absolutely true. But a death scene being meaningful is as much the DMs job as the players. "Meaningful" does not have to mean "Chosen".

The meaning can lie in what the group DOES about the death. Personally, as I have said before, I think anything that one shots a character from completely fresh to dead in one hit is both bad game design AND lazy DMing. But that is not to say there have not been situations where a monster did WAY more damage than an already wounded player in my game expected and took them out by surprise.

The last time that occurred, what happened  to the monster two rounds later was spectacularly unpleasant, in an Aztec sort of way.


Of course, part of the problem with the image is the word 'trip' - it implies knocking the legs out from under a creature with legs, afterall, when in 3e it's jargon that mean 'knock prone,' and in 4e the only jargon is 'prone,' 'trip' never being part of the rules (it'd be fluff, which /is/ explicitly mutable). 


Well I think a lot of people hated the "Effect first, flavor later" concept that 4E used. Because this basically just emphasizes that the rules are god, and deemphasizes the story.

:sigh:  yes, being hated was 4e's biggest problem.  

As with your obsession with healing 'slowing down' fights (it only 'slows down' TPKs, it speeds up player victories) in other threads, you're getting things exactly backwards, here:   Having clear, consistent mechanical effects and mutable flavor emphasizes the prime importance of story, and emphasizes the tools as mere tools to get there.

Rather than turning every potentially interesting action into an argument that must persuade the DM to override the rules in your favor (as tends to be the case in games where rules & fluff are entangled and inconsistent), 4e let the rules resolve the mechanical side, and left what that resolution meant in the story open to the imagination. 

It's not always realistic, but it's balanced, playable, and conducive even to the 'storytelling' approach.


Presumably a fighter's power that trips people is a maneuver that involves some kind of training and a technique.

Training, technique, luck, sheer determination, sure.  But probably not to the specialized extent of a 'kata.'  A fighter in a fantasy world who must face foes as varied as giants, mindflayers, beholders, dire animals, oozes, elementals, ghosts, and orcs would be suicideally foolish to train exclusively in techniques that only worked on other, reasonably solid, humanoids of about the same size.


 

 

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A good death scene is one with meaning. 

Absolutely true. But a death scene being meaningful is as much the DMs job as the players. "Meaningful" does not have to mean "Chosen".

The meaning can lie in what the group DOES about the death. Personally, as I have said before, I think anything that one shots a character from completely fresh to dead in one hit is both bad game design AND lazy DMing. But that is not to say there have not been situations where a monster did WAY more damage than an already wounded player in my game expected and took them out by surprise.

The last time that occurred, what happened  to the monster two rounds later was spectacularly unpleasant, in an Aztec sort of way.




"You rolled a 1.  You Die"

That does not have meaning to me.

-Polaris  
A good death scene is one with meaning. 

Absolutely true. But a death scene being meaningful is as much the DMs job as the players. "Meaningful" does not have to mean "Chosen".

The meaning can lie in what the group DOES about the death. Personally, as I have said before, I think anything that one shots a character from completely fresh to dead in one hit is both bad game design AND lazy DMing. But that is not to say there have not been situations where a monster did WAY more damage than an already wounded player in my game expected and took them out by surprise.

The last time that occurred, what happened  to the monster two rounds later was spectacularly unpleasant, in an Aztec sort of way.




"You rolled a 1.  You Die"

That does not have meaning to me.

-Polaris  


Well, it does to some people. 
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A good death scene is one with meaning. 

Absolutely true. But a death scene being meaningful is as much the DMs job as the players. "Meaningful" does not have to mean "Chosen".

The meaning can lie in what the group DOES about the death. Personally, as I have said before, I think anything that one shots a character from completely fresh to dead in one hit is both bad game design AND lazy DMing. But that is not to say there have not been situations where a monster did WAY more damage than an already wounded player in my game expected and took them out by surprise.

The last time that occurred, what happened  to the monster two rounds later was spectacularly unpleasant, in an Aztec sort of way.




"You rolled a 1.  You Die"

That does not have meaning to me.

-Polaris  


Well, it does to some people. 

Only to Marcie, when Black Leaf died.

Tony_Vargas

Question: Have you ever played in or run a 4E game where everyone at the table just kind of stopped when a power was used in a way that made absolutely no narrative sense, and to everyone there it was glaringly obvious that it shouldn't work or should work differently? Where cognitive dissonance just pulled everyone out of the movie in their head?

If not, I completely understand your objection to what Dwarfslayer said, and I'm glad you have never had that happen.

But please try to respect that, to other people with reasonable open minds, it HAS happened and they find it detracts from the game. You don't have to agree with the sentiment (and clearly you don't) , but you can't tell them they are wrong for feeling that way anymore than you can tell someone they are wrong for preferring strawberry ice cream to chocolate.

Some people do find "It does what it does because it says what it does" just as objectionable and unfun as "It does what you can convince the DM  it should do." And that is not, I hasten to point out, as edition specific as you might think.

A little "walk in the other guys/gals shoes" doesn't hurt for any of us.
Only to Marcie, when Black Leaf died.


Yes, but don't forget later she got to be Elfstar, a priestess of the craft, and of the Temple of Diana. So it was all good. 
Marcie was the one swinging from the ceiling fan.  It was Debbie who got all the cool swag.
Dang. I need to dig up the pamphlets from my old gaming box. I'm getting rusty on my "Knowledge: Nutbar" skill.
Tony_Vargas

Question: Have you ever played in or run a 4E game where everyone at the table just kind of stopped when a power was used in a way that made absolutely no narrative sense, and to everyone there it was glaringly obvious that it shouldn't work or should work differently? Where cognitive dissonance just pulled everyone out of the movie in their head?

For a moment, sure, then I or someone else presented a description that worked, and it would become a memorable moment where the character in question did something remarkable, 'in story' even though it was just another use of a power he's used before and will likely use again.

I've also been in games where there was an obvious disconnect, and it was just ignored or glossed over, and games where it turned into a long, even acrimonious debate over how it should 'really have happened,' and what would be 'realistic,' (leading to a whole section of continuity being re-wound and re-played) as well as ones in which a DM promptly and efficiently snuffed a player action for such reasons and maintained control, ruining the moment for only one player instead of everyone.  I don't think any of those are unusual experiences.

Of those, the 4e experience has been the most enjoyable, by far.


 

 

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That's an excellent analysis of the outcomes Tony_Vargas.

I'd just like to point out that both of your paragraphs can be read to refer to the "4E experience"; interestingly you didn't specify which was which.

What you enjoy is entirely based on preference. A tautology, but one that gets lost in the shouting around here sometimes.
My experience has been similar to Tony's. Playing and running it felt like the rules finally got out of the way of the story rather than dictating the story as was the case in some other RPGs I have played. 13th Age also has a similar "rules get outta story's way!" take, as well. 
Having clear, consistent mechanical effects and mutable flavor emphasizes the prime importance of story, and emphasizes the tools as mere tools to get there.


No it really doesn't. Having immutable rules that trump common sense emphasizes the importance of using the rules. It turns the game into Magic: the Gathering. You don't seriously care what the flavor text says on your card, you just read the mechanical effect, because that's what trumps everything. And you don't ever expect to be creating any kind fo story, so when a terror spell "kills" a wall of stone, you don't really care.

That's not the case in D&D where you're expecting to produce a coherent story, and the narrative is actually important. You do care when illogical effects happen, because the story is supposed to make sense. This is an RPG, not just a miniatures game. The figures on the board represent more than just a set of numbers and power cards, they are characters in a story.

If you're just looking to create a miniatures combat game, then you can forget about all that silly logic and common sense, but we need that stuff to create a narrative and tell stories and the moment you sell the game as an RPG, you can't just dismiss that stuff as being trivially unimportant.


 4e let the rules resolve the mechanical side, and left what that resolution meant in the story open to the imagination.


Only the resolutions that are produced end up being nonsensical a lot of the time. And that matters with an RPG where you're expected to tell a story that makes sense.

Yes, I realize you can attach whatever story you want to what's going on with the miniatures. I can do the exact same thing in a game of chess or monopoly. I can roleplay in all those games if I want to, and I can try to make a story. But that doesn't make any of them good RPGs.


It's not always realistic, but it's balanced, playable, and conducive even to the 'storytelling' approach.


Balanced? Yes.
Playable? Yes, very playable as a miniatures game.
Concucive to storytelling? Hell no. Anything that amounts to knocking an amorphorous slime creature prone is not very conducive to storytelling.

Creating a bunch of rigid inflexible rules promotes a game that can be run easily without a referee, but it does nothing to make your game good for storytelling.

I suppose you must consider chess to be conducive to storytelling too.

Training, technique, luck, sheer determination, sure.  But probably not to the specialized extent of a 'kata.'  A fighter in a fantasy world who must face foes as varied as giants, mindflayers, beholders, dire animals, oozes, elementals, ghosts, and orcs would be suicideally foolish to train exclusively in techniques that only worked on other, reasonably solid, humanoids of about the same size.



Master: "Hey I got this really great technique that'll help in fighting the orcs and hobgoblins by taking out their legs?"
Fighter: "Screw you, I only want to learn something that'll work on green slime, the Tarrasque and incorporeal monsters all at once. No sense practicing these great moves just on creatures with legs."
Master: "Well I also have this power that twists causality to make the enemy prone regardless of what it is. Just hold up this power card and your enemy falls over sometimes. Then you can make up a story in your head about how you knocked it down. But don't worry, it'll still work, even if you can't think of one, you know because your enemy is an amorphorous ooze without a front or back to be knocked prone on. Personally I like just to reflavor mine where I fart in the monster's face and it knocks it down."
Fighter: "Yeah I want to learn that one! But wait... if I'm warping reality instead of learning actual fighting techniques, doens't that mean I'm not a fighter anymore?"
Master: "Nah, it still says fighter on your character sheet. Don't think about it too much."