In a few threads, it has been asked what player abilities should be encouraged, discouraged, or rewarded by the next iteration of D&D. This is a crucial question for the designers, as it sets up what players and DMs they hope to attract to the game. I have identified eight different categories of player abilities, and have created the following poll to identify what people would like to see in their games. Note I am not asking what you want to see in the next iteration of D&D. Let's assume that the designers are going to make the game as modular as possible and open it up to as many game styles as they can. What I want to know is what you prefer when you sit down to play D&D.
Feel free to contribute to the discussion below, or leave a comment on the related blog article.
Before answering the poll, please review my brief description of each of these categories:
Optimization is the ability to master a game system and to find the hidden synergies and build strengths that allow your character to excel at a given role. A system that encourages this behavior allows clever players to find winning scenarios, or specializations that allow their character to more easily overcome obstacles. Note that with the growth of the internet, optimization may be as easy as Googling a build that someone else has already designed. The issue is whether the system should encourage or reward system mastery, or whether it should seek to discourage such behavior.
Preparation is the ability to anticipate future obstacles and prepare your group to better overcome them. Unlike Optimization, which happens during the character building or leveling process, Preparation occurs during the game, and usually involves the careful selection of spells (in a spell memorization system), hunting out rumors, clues, and divinations of what is to come, understanding the system so as to ensure the party is prepared for a wide variety of enemies or varying strengths or weaknesses. A system that encourages preparation may specialize in "gotcha" encounters which nullify traditional party strengths and force parties to have contingency plans. Should the game encourage or discourage this sort of adventure?
Knowing Your DM
The more discretion a DM has in crafting and resolving encounters, the more valuable it is to know how your DM thinks. Some DMs may be persuaded by emotional appeals, while other DMs may be more persuaded by hypertechnical rules discussions, and other DMs may be swayed to appeals to verisimilitude. Some players may now that their DM likes to speak in riddles, while other players have DMs who reward self-sacrifice. The more discretion the system places int he DM's hands, the more potent the ability to know your DM becomes. How much should the system reward this ability?
Knowing Your Fellow Players
Some games may encourage the ability to work with your companions intuitively base do your years of friendship, while other games may want to encourage a table of strangers playing together for the first time and having no troubles at all. How important should it be that a player know and understand how the other players at the table think, and what sort of playstyles they prefer. Should the players be required to operate as a cohesive unit, or should it allow, or even encourage, players to go their own ways?
Riddles are a stable of fantasy. And puzzle-like challenges are also a staple of D&D. Figuring out your encumbrance, spending one's limited funds, determining who should be on watch with whom, are just a much a puzzle in logic, as solving a sphinx's riddle. To what extent should these challenges be resolved using the character's skills and knowledge and to what extent should these challenges be resolved using the player's knowledge. For purposes of this poll, we want to know your opinion of how much weight the player's ability to think logically should factor into the game.
Combat can often resemble a chess match. But should it? Some people enjoy the strategic aspects of combat, while other people simply want to get through it quickly and without a lot of granularity. Strategic gaming rewards strategic grandmasters, but it can alienate people who have little interest in strategy. How much strategy would you want in your game?
Complicated games involve clues that are scattered across adventures, waiting for players to find them, remember them, and then recall them at strategic moments. Related to Puzzle-Solving, Lorekeeping encourages players to immerse themselves in a world, to feel a part of it, to ferret out its hidden corners and mysteries and to treat the campaign world as a real, living place. But Lorekeeping can be a nightmare to track, can discourage casual play, and can feel like a chore without proper guidance. How much guidance should the game have? How much Lorekeeping should it include?
Some games encourage players to create characters with lots of story hooks. Missing mentors, insane siblings, mysterious benefactors, can all be incorporated into the game with the expectation that the DM will incorporate these hooks into the developing plotline. However, time spent on one person's story may detract from time spent on others' stories, or on the team's ongoing challenges. How much should the game encourage, or discourage, players to pursue their own back stories and character personalities? Should the game punish such activity? Should it exalt such activity?
These polls will run for one month! I look forward to the results!
I agree, this is very interesting. I also appreciate the thought that went into the formatting and making the thread look aesthetically pleasing with pictures and stuff.
Thanks! I had to delete the photos because they were causing formatting issues. I'm trying to add them back in....
edited to add: Fixed!
Good poll with interesting results so far. I look foward to seeing it when more people have voted.
Excellent poll. Hopefully, Wizards takes the results to heart. This should provide an excellent barometer on how they should present 5E to the masses.
Spiffy. I'll definitely put that to use sometime.
Nice questions, good choices. I look forward to the results.
You might want to rephrase the part on optimization.
There are two ways to understand it:
1) The game designers intentionally make some options better than others to reward players that try to optimize.
2) The game designers try to make all options equal but because of synergies with other options, an optimizer will be able to get the most out of the system.
It's two very different things in my opinion. I'm against 1), I'm totally for 2) because there isn't much you can do about it?
I would have liked to seen a result that read along the lines of "Should be an optional, but not required element". Most of the items listed I think ought to have dials through modules.
From the OP:
"Let's assume that the designers are going to make the game as modular as possible and open it up to as many game styles as they can."
The odd man out here is playing the DM. With the other factors, I think the game should work to support multiple options and encourage different styles of play.
I would rather the designers work to minimize the degree to which playing the DM is a factor, but it will always be a factor. Different DMs have different habits. Understanding and working with the DM's style is part of being a good player, even if it can be taken too far and become abusive.
I've stickied it and we'll keep it stickied until the poll concludes.
I also well done on both the options and the poll itself.
Me in most cases I went minimal effect, with knowing your teammates having a big effect, and one or two others haveing some effect.
Optimization: voted some
if everyone builds the best build every time, then the game is no fun, that being said, good decision making should be rewarded, the whole game just shouldn't be built around it and it shouldn't be expected, (or worse, required)
Preperation: voted mastery
having a plan shouldn't be required, charging in seat of your pants blazing is fun, but if a group throws an A-team style plan together that works out perfectly and ends an encounter in half a round, well then it would just be rotten for the DM to take that away from them, give them a bigger challenge next time
Knowing your DM: voted punished
gaming the DM is not cool, nothing should be taken for granted, the DM should be throwing a different flavor curveball everytime, when you can predict the DM's actions and play according to those expectations the game becomes predictable and no longer a challenge, also the game shouldn't encourage any sort of brown nosing or favor currying
Knowing your fellow players: voted mastery or pronounced i can't remember
either way the game is about playing together with friends, its a fundamental aspect and good group dynamics should be rewarded
Puzzle solving: voted some
it's a role play game, you're playing a character whose abilities are vastly different from your own, puzzles are fun, but you don't have to physically break something yourself when your character breaks a door, if you're character is smarter than you are, the game shouldn't grind to a halt because you're personally bad at riddles
Strategic gaming: voted pronounced or mastery i can't remember
if you don't want a combat heavy game, don't play a combat heavy game, don't gimp combat for the rest of us because you'd rather be playing dress up at the ball or talking your way past the golem
Lorekeeping and Aggressive Roleplaying: voted mastery
it's a roleplaying game, play that role baby, play it hard play it fast, become your character sheet, the way I see it, any player who isn't actually interested in roleplaying, is just roleplaying a character with no personality or interest in the world around them, if you act like a sword swinging machine, my world will treat you like one
I disagree with some of the praise of the way the options are phrased (though it must nevertheless be said that they are significantly better than some of WotC's polls). Specifically, you require exactly one answer to each question, but some of the options don't seem mutually exclusive to me.
The first six options are fine, and seem like a reasonable scale for measuring the things they're trying to measure. Those aren't the problem.
The seventh option is "Mastery should be rewarded". That sounds to me like a general statement that [optimization / playing the DM / whatever] should matter - i.e. being good at it should make a positive difference in your outcomes. But that's just the same as saying "either the fourth, fifth or sixth option is correct". So at least on this interpretation, this option is redundant. If it isn't just a more vague version of the three options that precede it, I don't understand what it is.
The eighth and final option, "should be required of all players", seems like an answer to a different question than the other seven. How much difference these things should make is one thing, how widespread they should be among players is another - they're related, but they're not the same. More specifically, while the eighth option is clearly incompatible with either of the first two, someone could easily believe both the eighth option and any of the third through seventh.
I'm just ignoring the seventh and eighth options and using the scale the first six provide. How to interpret people who do use those options, I'm not sure. It's perhaps fortunate that not too many people are doing so, at least that I've seen so far.
This is a terrific thread with good polls. I also hope WotC takes them into consideration.
However, I had some trouble answering the following:
Really good poll.
I went with minimal to some reward for just about all the options.
Knowing the DM is a funny one. "Gaming the DM" should be punished. While knowing that your DM uses a specific set of monsters (like the aberrations mentioned above)and preparing in advance for the inevitability of them appearing should be rewarded.
Not only is knowing the DM all-but-mandatory, the DM should tell the players what his style is, and what sort of themes the campaign will entail, so that all the players create appropriate characters (or choose not to participate if the game is simply not their style). Especially if that style is something specific to the type of campaign he's running.
F'rex, if you're wanting to run a game of subterfuge and espionage, a player needs to know this before he decides to create CAPTAIN PLATEMAIL WHO HAS NO INSIDE VOICE.
I think with optimization it needs to have some effect, but not so much that it knocks the system over a barrel. My idea is that there should kind of be a mean, say 5, a minimum 3, and a most 7. Optimization will hit the 7, the 7 will be really good in those areas but isn't so much better that it forces entire rebuilds of encounters and revamping of the games engines. (You can still do the stuff, and I thing remaking the game in the groups image is great, just saying that it shouldn't be a necessity for the damn thing working).
Prep playing is tactical and in game and should be rewarded, a better question might be how much it should offer mechanically. IE are there spells that go 'turn the dragon named Bob inside out with no save' that are hyper specialized or is it more like 'we're facing a dragon, prep dragondodger aura, weaken scales' or 'Red dragon, prep ice spells and fire resistance' The 3rd is common sense, the second is decent prep and the 1st... what worries me is that I have seen spells and games like that and required that level of prep.
For knowing the GM, well that's actually probably a problem I have to work on, one of my gaming groups can read me well, so they tend to know how to deal with some of what I do. I can do curveballs occaisionally but I also have my old standards. I've also been running games with these guys for about 12 years so we know one another well, and our group is quite cohesive as well.
Puzzle solving and lorekeeping are probably dependant on the group and on how often you meet. Puzzles in my experience are best done occaisionally as an optional part of a quest or adventure. The main reason being that some riddles can be either too hard or easy and while the group might have mental scores that would intimidate the greatest intellects of our times it is probable that the players lack the same. Also, for lorekeeping if you meet frequently and cover a lot of stuff heavily with the group strongly invested in the worlds lore, or are at least able to weave that lore heavily into the plot, that's fine. But if the players aren't heavily interested in the lore, or you meet less frequently (or just alternate who runs week to week) the players are more likely to forget things and so is the person running.
I want to say bravo because this is the type of questions the designers really need to understand what gamers want.
Now I'll comment every question:
System mastery was the great success of 3rd edition. I hate it but hardcore fans love it. So there should be some, like in 4th edition: no excess but some character building.
It's a believable component of adventuring. It rewards people that immerse themselves in the gameworld (and it's what roleplay is all about). It's the opposite of Optimization. Optimizations rewards people that prepare themselves out of game, Preparation rewards people that prepare in game. What I'm saying is that Optimization of character building is opposite to immerse in the gameworld (what roleplay is all about).
Knowing Your DM
Impossible to avoid it. It's how it works with people that you know a lot. Live with it.
Knowing Your Fellow Players
If you're asking how much the collaboration should be important in the game than I can say many people I asked in real life (and myself) don't appreciate the forced collaboration that seems to pervade the 4th edition.
That's what many players want. And for puzzle-solving I mean what you said, not only traps and riddles.
This is an hard one for me. I would want a game were some classes are more able in combat and others (like rogues) are more capable in this kind of things. But players want to be rewarded if they play smart, not if their characters are smart. So probably characters' abilities should have importance but only as other (powerful) options that players should have at disposal in puzzle-solving.
Many players love it. Even more players hate excessive strategic combat (especially girls) because they prefer the roleplay or exploration aspect and so if a lot of time gets spent in strategic manouvers they get bored.
To this whole lot of players I could say "there are many other roleplaying games other than D&D".
But D&D is the "catch-em-all" of roleplaying games, so I think we should go in a mid-way with this problem solution.
I think that everything that helps to immerse the players in the game, without exceeding, is good.
I'd much rather have the game focus on preparation instead of optimization, but I'd be sad to see tactics discounted. Really, AD&D revolved a lot around prep and tactics. It was quite successful. Capture that concept in better mechanics, things will be good.
I believe that anti-optimizing in game design might have some odd repercussions, if taken to extremes. I’ll begin by giving my definition of “anti-optimization” is the state where all PCs have perfect relative effectiveness regardless of all of their differences. This would include equipment, class features, ability scores, class abilities, race, ext…
Let’s assume that this “perfect anit-optimization” is somehow achieved in D&D Next, I believe that this would create a situation where many would say that everything would become meaningless and the PCs could theoretically feel flat and the “same”. If player one takes totally random things for their PC, one takes thematically appropriate things and another tries to optimize and they are all totally relatively balanced to each other, then what’s the point? I think it could possibly hurt any sense of accomplishment in a PCs abilities if this where the case.
This could also create conditions where supplemental books are a much harder sell. It may seem shallow, but for me a big draw for supplemental books is an increase in PC power. If all options are equal and having more options does not increase PC power, then one potential draw for supplemental book purchases disappears. This might not completely do away with these books since even if all options are relatively balanced, they might make certain character types buildable, such as unarmed fighters (monk types).
In conclusion perfect anti-optimization would have negative effects for D&D Next IMO.
Optimization will always have some reward. Despite the claims on these boards that 4E is "obsessed with perfect balance" or something like that, I still see a pretty lively 4E CharOp board with over 300,000 posts. This is true despite the many pages of errata to fix the most egregiously broken parts of 4E. The perfectly balanced game is a theoretical construct, and D&D will always have rewards for optimization, though I hope they are never too extreme.
The one thing in this poll that I'm not a big fan of is preparation. I'm OK with players trying a little bit to figure out what's ahead, but I feel that research/scouting can get absurd pretty fast. I don't want the game to slow down while players meticulously exhaust every resource for finding out what's ahead.
First I want to say great poll and very useful discussion. As an optimizer I want it to stay part of the game but I would love to see it have even less effect then it does now since a party optimzers can be very hard to DM for by mid paragon.
On a second not I love the pics you chose for each catagory and am starting the mini game of ID the pic. If you are willing to only confrim or dney guesses I would love it Wrecan. I will go first with puzzle solving. White Plume Moutain page 6 encounter 7. I love that mod.
I for one, am mostly against this. I really like to encourage players to just make a fun character concept and roll with it. A wide variety of characters who all have strengths and weaknesses is not only more realistic (and fun imo), but in general just easier to deal with as a DM. Having to deal with a character who had his player meticulously scour every inch of the players handbook and supplements to give him just the right combination of abilities, skills, spells, and powers is not only annoying but is also immersion breaking and ultimately not fun for anyone.
For example, to make this character vulnerable or at the very least hurt him/her, I have found that as a DM, I often have to do things that take the game to the extremes. Like putting up an anti-magic circle or planting an all too powerful cursed item in just the right place. Hell, one time, I had to give every enemy in the adventure a weapon, spell, or armor that had specific counters to the warlock class. Okay, not every enemy. That's a bit of an exaggeration. But when more than 3 or 4 enemies pop up that have the character's specific weaknesses occur, that leads to the player suddenly realizing a few things.
1. Immersion breaking. The enemies all know who I am and what hurts me specifically. Either the DM has some kind of major event planned for me and I'm about to get seriously screwed in the story...OR, the DM has had to go out of their way to make this challenging for me. (this is a concept I hate. No challenges should seem artificial to the player at any time. I also do not like to mislead players in this way (other ways most definitely), especially when the plot is not currently geard towards a particular party member)
2. They are not being rewarded for smart playing. Which trivializes all their actions during the character creation process. And makes it seem like they wasted their time trying to come up with something that could whoop up on most everything with ease. (in most cases, this is the reality. Optimizing isn't realistic unless you're playing a character trying to master his profession to the extremes, which I'd say is not the likely case for many character types. These feelings of wasted time ultimately does not make them feel good, and dnd is about having a good time, not a wasted negative one)
3. They are being picked on. Kind of goes along with the second point, but takes it to a greater extreme on the punishment side of things. And while it's not intentional to "pick on" the player, it does seem that way.
I greatly encourage this if it's done in ways that support what the characters involved would actually do. Not what the players would do. If you can't tell, I'm a strong proponent of role playing.
Knowing Your DM
I foam at the mouth with rage when I think my players know me too well and can tell what I'm about to do. Of course, on some level, this is unavoidable. However, I do my absolute best to make things as unpredictable as I can. Which vastly helps to reduce and actively discourage metagaming. Which I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, loathe, despise, vehemently dislike, and all around spew gutteral language over when metagaming is taking place. Seriously, you just do not understand the levels of rage that is induced within me when there is metagaming taking place. I've even gone so far as to change details mid-way through a session (all hidden details of course) so radically that it ultimately had far reaching effects that changed how the players were about to approach a situation. I recall one time I completely removed the solution to a trap just because one player mentioned that he knew it would have one based on our previous sessions. He never thought that way again after that session when the rogue reported that the trap could not be deactivated.
Knowing Your Fellow Players
I'm a bit more comfortable with this idea than knowing the DM too well. That said, I still try to encourage players to do this within character limits.
Ah...the hardest part to pull off IMO. Character knowledge vs. Player knowledge. I try to encourage mainly character knowledge, but in some cases, I will go lenient and allow player knowledge to prevail. Especially if my riddle includes things that I know only the players would understand. That said, I do like to implement a system that allows the characters to make checks or give them ways to uncover the solution to the puzzles and riddles naturally. Like a high int score or particular skill would lend a bit of knowledge to the character that allows me to present the players with a hint. Or, put things in the game and game world that give more clues and make it easier if need be. Ultimately though, I approach these in whatever ways I know the group would enjoy most. Last time I included puzzles was at the direct request of all players involved and it was pretty successful because I did a variety of puzzles. So really, I feel this specifically should be geared towards empowering both players and DMs to build puzzles that can be solved in a variety of ways and all ways should be equally rewarding and have equal impact on games.
I'm okay with this for the most part. It's probably the only metagaming thing I allow on a regular basis. Letting players strategize and come up with winning formulas or tactics and rewarding them for it helps keep things smooth. Besides, I find it hard not to make combat meta most of the time because the mechanics for combat feel like they were built with a meta mind state, then glossed over with loose and thin lore concepts for why a player gets the bonuses or succeeds in various tactics. That said, if players choose to approach combat the way their characters actually would, even better!
I love this. I love to scatter things across adventures to keep players interested and to potentially reward the ones who get really engrossed in the game. There's no penalty for not doing so, and all the reward in the world for making things intricate and complex. Even if the reward is just some extra fun. And hey, if you're a DM, throw in some XP rewards to boot. :D
Just justifications for how I voted - which is, of course, an expression of my personal gaming style.
Preparation: My desire to foreground in-play choices leads to a high emphasis on preparation - choices that the players make in response to, or anticipation of, situations in play. That's the point of the game for me. I want the decisions you make in-character right before you head into the dungeon to matter far more than the decisions you made while writing on your character sheet before play began.
Knowing your DM: I find that if I allow my personal preferences to override random/seed generation too much, the game becomes predictable (as my preferences aren't random), 'knowing your DM' becomes overly important - and the situations get boring. So, I don't think it should be overridingly important, but I don't believe it should be inconsequential, either.
Knowing your Fellow Players: It's a game, and it's fun to be good at it, and even more fun to be part of a good team. Knowing the preferences and foibles of other players lets you play it better - but it shouldn't be a requirement to play the game. I want the game to reward knowing the other players, but be accessible (if more difficult) if you're playing a 1-on-1 game, or a pickup game at a shop. It should encourage getting to know your fellow players, but not absolutely require that you do so at the beginning of play.
Puzzle solving: I like puzzles. Others don't. If you don't like puzzles, I have lots in my games, but there's invariably a way to bypass them - although it's generally more costly/time-consuming/loud than figuring out the puzzle. I want some player input in solving the puzzle. Rolling a die vs. a stat to solve a puzzle completely fails to provide any of the satisfaction that actually solving a puzzle provides - said satisfaction being the entire point of the puzzle in the first place. That said, if there's a puzzle-lock on the door that you can't figure out... pull out the ring of the ram, or a sledgehammer. Enough brute force solves most puzzles.
Strategic gaming: Strategy is generally about logistics, planning and preparation - so, I'd lump actual 'strategy' under that portion above - I love that stuff. When talking about 'granularity', I believe you're talking about tactics. I find that excessive tactical focus generally requires rules granularity to such an extent that combats slow to a crawl and take dozens of minutes to resolve. I like simple, abstract combats, and lots of them - one or two individually important, encounter-winning/losing tactical decisions to be made in each one, rather than 25 generally inconsequential tactical decisions made in every encounter that individually make little difference to the outcome. Overall, these 25 decisions may, in aggregate, decide the combat, but they fade into a boring mush because individually they mean very little. One or two important tactical decisions per group, per combat, with big, flashy immediate results feels right to me.
Lorekeeping: I like doing it, and if the players are invested, there's no reason not to reward it. I also like the idea of simple pickup games where a player can show up at the open table once per month and feel like his participation is also meaningful. I don't think the two styles need to be exclusive.
Aggressive roleplay: I define roleplaying as making decisions from your character's perspective in response to the scenario presented by the DM. Writing backstory is writing. Some people like to mix that in, if it works for them, great. I'm not that interesting in it, and feel that most of these storytelling systems encourage gaming the system rather than roleplaying, that is, making decisions organically/naturally in response to scenarios as your character perceives them. Rewards for playing to background/theme/etc are simple to tack on with optional systems for those who prefer them.
I find it interesting that almost every section has such similar results.
Should have some effect comes out for all options.
I actually think the results are very different, though in subtle ways. I plan to write a blog article about it after the poll closes.
pretty interesting one, yep. Though I think it was quite forseeable that anything "should have some little effect" in the median
For my personal comments:
Was fun to some extend (not game breaking min-maxing, but finding a good, legit synergized build) just because I love number juggling. But as with many MMOs, we have now the situation that you do not have to *think* about fitting builds, but can copy and paste something from the char-op forums or equal sources. Same thing as the "cookie cutter" builds in MMOs although in D&D you have the "problem" that it can cause serious group imbalance if one player min-maxes (and ignores that the style of the feat/class/etc combination does not fit into a common fluff theme) and the rest of the group does not.
Synergy is good, clever building is fun, but it should not be that much encouraged. Role-playing choices should weigh so much more than simply choosing a certain feat, ability score or power.
should be encouraged, but that depends on your group and should not mean that I want Vancian magic back. Quite the opposite. I think getting clues about obstacles (such as having to climb or going into a volcano area), your enemies (i.e. Medusae, so get something that might remove paralysis) or powerful players in your current location should be rewarded, although you should not reward it that much that the group will do entire sessions doing nothing but information gathering and preparing for the next field trip.
Knowing your DM
I'd propably say no. Even if we all know that DMs can heavily influence your performance and play in a campaign (say, playing a dragonslayer in a dragon campaign will be smoother than playing one in an undead campaign), there should not depend too much on DM performance and preference. When I can tank with my defender by just staying around and no one will ever hurt my friends, then I might as well play a decoy doll. When we frequently get surrounded by enemies who always win initiative or get surprise rounds, why even bother taking that friendly-fire AoE power even if I love its style? Players should be able to make their choices individually and independently first and then discuss stuff with their group.
Knowing the other players
Maybe more than knowing your DM since as a player you'd have to work together with them and as a DM you will NEED to know the other's preferences to keep it a fun game for all. However, you shouldn't be punished too much if you happen to have a group where everyone just wants to play a fighter.
I like puzzles when they make sense and fit into the adventure. So I'd vote for "some impact". But...
... a DM should not do puzzles for puzzle's sake alone and, if the players don't get any clue, he should allow them to make checks for hints. It also depends on your group and that should be stated in the DM section, too. Some groups just completely hate puzzles. If that's the case, please don't do them. Or do something puzzly that isn't obviuosly a puzzle, such as a murder case or spy/information selection game.
Is fun to me and should be encouraged, but only as an optional rule. I know many folks dislike having to track their minis and AOOs and movement every encounter. Some like playing high-tactical classes like the warlord who really shines when played by a tactical player and who is a bit dull when played by someone who just "wants to be the healer". Don't want to force my preferences on the rest of you
Should be encouraged as it helps all players to get immersed in the world and area they're playing in. It helps them to connect NPC to each other and to get a feeling for the setting itself. If you don't want to play a roleplay-heavy campaign, you can ignore it. But even modern (action) video games offer such HUGE amounts of lore that you shouldn't simply dismiss it in a PnP game per default.
However, you should't penalize players too much if they happen to forgot just that particular piece of information that would be crucial for a given situation. Let them do checks to remember it, especially when they keep track of such things otherwise.
Not sure why labeled "aggressive", but I know that there are players who deeply care about their own character story and development and some just want to play that damn adventure. Roleplaying should be encouraged in my opinion and there are already too few rewards for good and believeable roleplay out there. There are too few guidelines regarding how to build a consistent character and how to display him/her in adventuring situations. I want to play a PnP RPG because I want to let a character come to life. And because this character should grow and interact with the other party members, feel love, hate, friendship, agony, victory and defeat together with them. If I just wanted a good story, I could keep playing those video games
I think it points out the issue the designers have because the 5e interested parties have such a divirsified view of what they want.
Looks like you'll have nice Gaussian curves with most of them centered on 'should have some effect on play'.
Guys, I have no idea what the last two posts have to do with the topic. I recommend moving the discussion of Charismatic Clerics to its own thread.
Excellent topic for a poll that might generate some good info - kudos!
I have just one "I would have done it different" comment, and that is on "Optimisation". I was around half way through reading the blurb when I became clear that you are talking about optimisation specifically in character creation and development, here - and (I think) primarily or even exclusively about optimising your own character?
I see this as at least two separate streams; of which optimisation of an individual character is the one I would like least stress on, personally (not because I want to deny character optimisers their jollies, but because overemphasis denies a fun experience to those not into optimisation).
Another strand is party optimisation. This is about optimising teamwork and synergies between the capabilities of the members of the team; things like the wizard choosing to grab "knock" if there is no rogue in the party, but preferring some other ritual instead if the rogue is a Thievery specialist. The potential downside is that this is not really feasible to any great extent in pickup games or convention/"living" games.
Other strands are action optimisation and equipment optimisation - but I think you covered those in "Strategy" and "Preparation" further down - maybe just make clear that those are covered elsewhere in the "Optimisation" blurb?
I can't change poll options at this late date. It's unfair to the people who already answered the original pre-alterd question. It skews results.
No poll is perfect. Even polls crafted by professionals with the intent to collect accurate data (as opposed to "push polls") can't be precise. I did the best I could, given I wrote the thing in less than an hour. I think for the informal purposes they are to be put, it is more than sufficient. I can only hope that people actually read the descriptive paragraphs before voting, which should ease any confusion caused by the topic headers.
A month ago, I posed a poll to the forums concerning what out-of-game player abilities a game should reward. You can see the results of the poll here and you can see the blog article (reproduced below) on the results here. This post will discuss my analysis of the results of the poll.
Essentially, I broke player skills into seven categories: character optimization, preparation, knowing the DM, knowing the players, puzzle-solving, strategic gaming, lorekeeping, and aggressive roleplay. I then asked people to rank each category's desirability from "Should be punished" to "Should be mandatory". In between those extremes were "discouraged", "no effect", "minimal effect", "some effect", "pronounced effect", and "reward mastery".
Not surprisingly, the median of almost every poll registered "some effect". However, a close look showed that different skills were valued very differently. I ranked by the median preference from most desirable to least desirable and will discuss these results below:
MOST DESIRABLE: PREPARATION AND STRATEGY
Preparation and Strategy were the highest valued skills in the poll. In fact, the median for each of these polls was only a smidge away from getting pushed from "should have some effect" to "should have a pronounced effect". Both of these skills received the most votes for "pronounced effect" of all the players skills listed, with preparation getting only two votes more than strategy. Preparation also got more votes for "mastery" than any other skill. These are clearly highly valued skills to those who responded to the poll.
I was surprised to see that these two skills were ranked equally, as, in my experience, each was rewarded by a different edition. In my opinion, First Edition rewarded preparation more than any other. It was full of traps and monsters that required specific weapons or materials in order to navigate. Ten-foot poles are the poster child of prepared adventurers, prodding the floor for traps from a relatively safe distance. Fourth edition, in my opinion, eschewed preparation in favor of strategy, rewarding teams that perused the battlefield and attacked foes in an intelligent and coordinated manner.
In some ways, however, this probably should not have surprised me so much. Because both preparation and strategy are simply ways to describe foresight in different pillars. Preparation is the equivalent of strategic thinking in the Exploration pillar. Being prepared means having thought ahead about your team's resources, the equipment they need to fill in any gaps in their skill sets, and carefully approaching each exploratory encounter. Strategic thinking is the equivalent of preparation in the combat pillar as it means having carefully considered your teammates' combat capacities, how the team can work best together in a number of different combats, and approaching each combat carefully and intelligently.
Despite all the talk about "kick in the door" style of play, which implies reckless abandon in both exploration and combat, it appears that the consumership may in fact prefer a more cerebral approach to adventuring.
MODERATELY DESIRABLE: PUZZLE-SOLVING, LOREKEEPING, AND AGGRESSIVE ROLEPLAY
The skills of puzzling, lorekeeping, and roleplaying were ranked almost evenly by the people who responded to the poll. These three skills were firmly in the "some effect" camp, with equal numbers preferring more importance and less importance for each of these three. These three abilities are also useful in that they don't require a lot of mechanics to incorporate into a game, but do require a lot of DM and player skill to incorporate well.
I would recommend that any Players Handbook or Dungeon Masters Guide have extensive guidance to players and DMs on how to incorporate more puzzles, lorekeeping and roleplay in your games. A regular Dungeon article on traps and puzzles would also be something to consider. I know that I got a subscription to Games Magazine specifically because many of the puzzles there are useful for constructing traps and puzzles for the players to overcome.
LESS DESIRABLE: PLAYER KNOWLEDGE AND CHARACTER OPTIMIZATION
I do not take the lower ranking of these skills as evidence that people don't enjoy knowing the people with whom they play, or building effective characters. Indeed, these skills still ranked in the "some effect" category, albeit near the bottom.
Some oddities: Player knowledge was unique in that nobody voted that this skill should be either punished or discouraged, and it received the most votes for the "should be required of all players" category. So people clearly see the value of this ability. Optimization was the only skill that had more people wanting to punish it than require it. Optimization also had the most votes for punishment and discouragement, so there's clearly a strong segment of anti-optimizers out there. And yet, Optimization also got the most votes for "some effect" of every skill in the poll. So there is a significant portion of the consumership that wants optimization to receive at least some reward.
Rather, I think the consumership acknowledges that the effects of these skills should be kept firmly in check. After all, the game should be available to people who play in casual pick-up games at D&D Encounters or other conventions. You shouldn't have to know who you're playing with. Also, I think, after 3e and 4e, with their robust character optimization forums, and all the talk of optimized builds, that people are wary of overly optimized characters impinging on the fun of more casual players. Optimization, like each of the skills should get some reward, but it appears to me that people want to ensure that optimized and nonoptimized characters can share a table without resentment.
LEAST DESIRABLE: KNOWING YOUR DM
Of all the skills, only this skill failed to score a median in the "some effect" category. This skill was at the top end of the "minimal effect". This skill got the most votes for both "no effect" and "minimal effect" and the only category that had more votes for "minimal" than "some".
I think this makes a lot of sense. Not only does "know your DM" have all the pitfalls of "know your player" for casual games and tournaments, but it has additional pitfalls. Knowing your DM feels like a particularly pernicious form of metagaming. It seems to encourage DM favoritism and many of the worst traits of bad DMs. And yet, there is a recognition, in my opinion, that knowing your DM is in some way inevitable. My players know that I love the twist endings, so they adjust their behavior accordingly. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, though I always try to keep them on their toes. In the end, I think the respondents are asking the designers to be careful not to place so much discretion in the hands of the DM that the DM is given leave to be completely arbitrary. The DM should be given guidance and help to avoid playing favorites, and to recognize their own quirks and foibles and adjust for them.
I hope you found the results of this poll as entertaining and informative as I did!
Thanks, Wrecan, for taking the time to both create this survey and taking the first crack at interpreting the data it provided. (I think you're pretty much on the mark in most cases; I'll leave it to others to nitpick your analyses. )
Ahhhhhh, loving the Erol Otus pix there! These bring back fond memories. :D
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