The Tyranny of Fun

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A brilliant individual by the name of Melan wrote something awhile ago, and I dredged it up because I vaguely recalled the whispers of a term: "tyranny of fun." As I read it, I found myself agreeing--"fun" certainly has sunk its fangs into D&D and will not let go. This "fun" spells the ruination of D&D, all that the older editions stood for...all in its perverse name.

"Fun." Not fun, but "fun." We can no longer have fun.

...[W]hy does the Wizards of the Coast R&D team strive for so strict a balance and why does it intend to strip away out-of-box options from you? I call this phenomenon the tyranny of fun. A ludicrous name for a ludicrous concept, but there you have it. The WotC designers are not bad people. I am sure, for example, that the folks working there don’t hate the game or anything, maybe they don’t even kick puppies on their way home. Maybe they help old ladies across the street. They want you to have fun. Good, yes? Yes? No. The idea went wrong long ago and it shows no signs of getting better. When dealing with game philosophy, Wizards R&D doesn’t concentrate on thinking up stuff that makes playing fun anymore. That’s 1970s TSR thinking. Moreover, fun is inherently subjective and hard to quantify - all we can have is meaningless truisms like „the game is about killing critters and taking their stuff”, „getting loot and powering up”, „playing my character” or „sitting around and eating chips”. That’s not very helpful - it is all true, of course, but it doesn’t really tell you what to do to emphasise this in the game. So instead, they try to remove things from the game which are not fun. What isn’t fun? The things the fans complain about. But who complains? In short, the kind of people older rulebooks (and pardon my edition snobbery, but that’s just how I see it) warned us about. People whose characters got their swords destroyed by a rust monster and who threw a hissy fit over it. People whose characters died to a hold person spell and who wrote angry letters to Dragon magazine. People who didn’t have fun, whose entertainment was destroyed by this monster or that spell. Meet WotC’s focus groups, meet the people who are the target audience for future releases. The people 4e will be designed to accommodate.

Oh, I don’t have high hopes that these changes can be or will ever be „stopped”. ENWorld is ample proof of that. There comes a change like destroying the creative concept behind the rust monster, and there is a chorus of approving posts praising this decision as if it was the second coming of Our Lord Sliced Bread. Because, after all, D&D before „it was evolved” was a horribly designed, bad, bad game people didn’t have fun with and which didn’t sell, right? Right? According to WotC R&D (heh, R&D... I wonder if EGG ever had an „R&D” department), people who didn’t like D&D before are the people D&D should be designed for in the future, because that’s smart business. I am not making this up either.

There is, of course, the inevitable counter-reaction from reactionaries who don’t appreciate the changes and dare to suggest that hey, it was good the way it used to be, and there is no overwhelming need to „re-design it to be proper at last”. These rose-coloured glass-wearing fools even suggest that the design shouldn’t be used. Naive thinking. In fact, they will accomplish very little. The debate will flow back and forth for a while, and in the end, the sides will agree to meet halfway. And gee, you just conceded your position, dice-boy. You were suckered into accepting that maybe they are right. Maybe it really was bad design all along and it were your pleasant experiences that were false.

The final response is always going to be to remove any edge, any colour, to remove randomness and introduce standardised fair play into the game which started out as highly arbitrary and whimsical - in short, fantastic and open to creative interpretation.

This response is the symptom of a design culture which would never be capable of designing a game like Dungeons &Dragons.

And that is a pity.

...To me, the point of RPGs is that they are active entertainment - you get to create things yourself, you get to excercise your common sense and judgement, and you get to share these two things with your friends to get something else you may not have even thought of. Very few things come close (although I have taken up level editing for the Thief2 computer game in the last year, which is stimulating in a different kind of way - more like LEGO than D&D). The third aspect is socialisation - someone on RPGNet once called RPGs hospitality games; games where you invite people into your own home in an age of decreasing face to face communication. That's also a good point.

I worry that new D&D, and in fact the new common face of gaming is undermining these progressive features of roleplaying games. In-play options are reduced by rule codification and the standardisation of "fair play" (instead granting the illusion of choice through character customisation - I argue that this is far less substantial than it is considered). Common sense is being attacked as "neither common nor sensible"; instead, designers and the game culture suggests yet more regulations over play by people who know best. This is the tyranny of fun part, and also the part where resentment/distrust of GMs and GMing comes up most regularly. There is a sort of assumption that GMs are not suited to create source material, even adventures for their players; that they are in dire need of Official Game Designer Wisdom, to be had for $29.90 in slick, glossy volumes (and you'd better be prepared to buy five or six of these to really begin playing). Finally, the process and environment of roleplaying itself has been attacked through citing extreme negative examples, portraying it as an inherently dysfunctional hobby.

That, gentlemen, is the Axis of Stupid we are facing.

Coincidentally, there is a way out, although maybe only for a part of the hobby if the industry will not follow - and that means much smaller communities than you have now. Simply Do It Yourself. Enjoy creating stuff, or playing and running things you or your online or offline friends made and shared. Be selective with your friends and don't be a dick yourself. In short, examine and practice the principles our hobby was founded upon, and all will be well. Discard the (natural) urge for Officiality, don't become a passive gamer.

With 4e out and some time having passed, it's time to look back at my previous posts exploring the question whether the sort of fun - and fair play - championed in current game design is actually having a negative effect on the hobby. It appears to me that my worries, which predate 4e's announcement by quite a lot of time, have proven to be well founded, and 4th edition is very much an embodiment of the Tyranny of Fun philosophy.

Having read even more ENWorld since it has come back up, I can say with confidence that the effects are already prominent. 4th edition is strongly in support of the folks previous editions and gaming practice referred to as 'bad players', and their perspectives are currently dominant in gaming discourse. They are the people who couldn't deal with characters getting killed, complained because the game wasn't perfectly "balanced" (the solution? Uniformisation and sameness!), and got into nitpicky arguments over rules because they had neither the common sense nor shared trust to resolve situations amicably and avoid abusing the rules. These types now have an ideological support for their dickery - the dogma that common sense is in fact not possible or even desirable. A typical stance, I might add, for people who don't have any...

In the design philosophy of Wizards of the Coast, the Tyranny of Fun has been fully canonised. What started out as stupid experiments in game design and a few odd decisions became the driving philosophy behind the new edition. "Fun" as "continuous positive reinforcement" and something that comes purely from combat encounters is emphasised over everything else. While positive reinforcement and combat are of course important sources of fun, 4e neglects to emphasise others. The result is, predictably, a vulgar simplification of what roleplaying games can offer us, a lightweight but ultimately unsatisfactory form of feelgood passive entertainment. The sense of entitlement that comes with this simplification is a particularly poisonous aspect of the Tyranny of Fun, and goes back to the first point - encouraging bad players. It will of course not be impossible to run 4e in a less "gimme" style, but DMs who attempt it can be expected to face stronger opposition and disapproval; 4e's spirit is very much against playing a genuinely challenging campaign, since those are - of course - not fun in the canonical sense.

Finally, there is the matter of the fetishisation of "game design"; that is, how officially appointed game designers are touted - and gradually being accepted! - as the infallible arbiters of what is good and bad fun. I find this a very suspicious development in roleplaying. In a participatory hobby, where the roles of consumers and creators have been strongly blurred (and this blurriness was a core contributor to what made the games so addictive, so different from anything else - RPGs are a form of active mental/social entertainment which are otherwise very rare), we are seeing movement towards a stronger separation between the two. Officially designed and meticulously balanced fun is contrasted with the straw men of "bad DMing", supposedly so epidemic that very few people can "enjoy" games properly. It is suggested that only a qualified elite who "really" understand games can save us from the effects of horrible, horrible game design and our own supposed dysfunctions. Instead of fostering individual creativity, this philosophy casts suspicion and disapproval on it; "house rules", the elementary tools of customisation, are treated with derision and contempt. The message is clear: "you are incompetent, stupid and you need our help (that will be $39.9, please)". Gary Gygax tried this crap at his worst, and fortunately, people just pointed and laughed. Can the Wizards designers do what Gary could not? So far, it seems to me they are winning.

All in all, what we are seeing is the emergence of a philosophy that denies and stifles excellence while encouraging mediocrity and poor play. Attempting to "protect" gamers from their own mistakes will not result in better games - it will limit self-expression, the freedom of creativity and hinder the natural and easy learning process most of us have gone through. It will subtly, although of course not completely, shift roleplaying games towards more passive and consumption-oriented forms of entertainment. The roleplaying hobby will be poorer for it, and it can also be expected to experience slow and continuous shrinkage as it becomes apparent to people that passive and consumption-oriented forms of entertainment offer much better alternatives than sitting around a table and rolling polyhedral dice.

An absolutely brilliant critique of the design philosophy that drives WotC. Both well-written and incisive, it cuts right to the heart of this newest edition's problems.
Holy tedious/specious blocks of text, Batman!

And such drippings of elitism.

So... Actualy, not.


And answer this; why play D&D - or any other games, all in all?
The amusing part of this is that the same thing can be said of every edition. Everyone's favorite edition is the best, and the one that came after it spells the ruination of D&D.

However, perhaps there is an upside. We can hold onto the hope that the folks who think this current edition is the ruination of &D&D will get the hell out of these forums and stick with a set for forums that talk about whatever edition they actually like rather than consistently trolling the 4e Boards with anti-4e drivel. They are the same as those who get a front row seat at a rock concert and then whine about the noise.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
I wish people with criticisms about 4e would stop repeating the same tired arguments; we've heard them, over and over and over again, now either go play something else or live with the new edition somehow, but don't clog the forums with this fallacious crap.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/23.jpg)

blehg blehg blehg where's dah gnome!
For those who don't want to read the wall of text above, let me distill it down:

"This new game is not fun for me. The old game is. My version of fun is valid, your version of fun is not."

I also suggest reading the following blog on the Tyranny of Fun by the Chatty DM.

http://chattydm.net/2008/07/17/moderates-have-fun-too/
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
A brilliant individual by the name of Melan wrote something awhile ago, and I dredged it up because I vaguely recalled the whispers of a term: "tyranny of fun." As I read it, I found myself agreeing--"fun" certainly has sunk its fangs into D&D and will not let go. This "fun" spells the ruination of D&D, all that the older editions stood for...all in its perverse name.

"Fun." Not fun, but "fun." We can no longer have fun.




An absolutely brilliant critique of the design philosophy that drives WotC. Both well-written and incisive, it cuts right to the heart of this newest edition's problems.

You forgot the most important part.

These are my subjective conclusions based on browsing through the core books and having read a good number of message board discussions, particularly ENWorld (I steer clear of Gleemax, the other big D&D net community). The process has been going on for a few years.

I would doubtless have a better informed opinion if I tried the game at the table. However, none of the people I play with like the changes in 4e (they are either 3e or earlier edition fans), so there's a poor chance of finding a convenient test group (and then playing to validate my dislike wouldn't be in good form). Therefore, I have to make my conclusions based on preview materials and secondary sources. That's more than enough to have an informed opinion.

It's why I don't ask my mechanic for computer advise
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
I read that a while ago. I thought it was a poorly written sack of garbage that doesn't actually address any real points. The writer doesn't actually use facts in his piece. Instead, he simply states his personal preference and treats those as his facts.

Now, there isn't anything inherently negative in writing an opinion piece in this way. It's passionate and there are aspects in his writing that are certainly agreeable. However, it's when he uses ad hominem attacks against people who disagree with him (Axis of Stupid, for instance) that his opinion begins to deteriorate from passionate vocalization of emotion to a rant.

Further, it's true that he doesn't simply state his personal opinion as fact all the time. Sometimes, he does present evidence. Unfortunately, when he does this, he assumes that it is self evident that his analysis of, at this point, the future is correct. This is a problem for his position since it renders much of it inarguable and therefore unprovable.

The most unfortunate aspect of this writing is that much of what he is saying is agreeable and his basic arguments could potentially have some merit. Indeed, there are aspects of the article I agree upon. Sadly, the way his position is presented doesn't properly articulate what he wants or even what he thinks should be done about it and in the end, we simply get a rant.

To conclude, his basic principle is admirable and whether or not it's true is a matter of personal preference. However, his means of presenting his case is poorly done.

Personally, I agree with some of what he says, but not all. I think the whole aspect of arguing this passionately about a game that you'll not likely play is stupid. However, as a gamer who has a great deal of emotional investment, whether rationally or irrationally, in his games I can understand why he feels so strongly about it. I also recognize my own hypocrisy as I have gotten equally heated about something equally trivial, and had I written down these rants, they would have been as poorly written as this one
One would think that people who feel the 4th edition rules are a further extention of a philosophy that limits self-expression and the freedom of creativity would be estatic. After all it now means that there is no more "suspect" game-designers mucking up 3.5 and they could then take that edition (much like Paizo is doing) and use their creativity and self-expression to mold it into exactly what they want. 3.5 is now basically a huge empty sandbox for they and their like-minded friends to play in.

Do they do that? No, instead they follow the big-bad game designers to their newer, smaller, more-stifling sandbox which now limits their creativity and complain how it does so. I can only shake my head and ask why?
I think everyone who is blowing the original poster off with cynicism and sarcasm should really stop and think. Read the words, each and every one of them. To me, this is one of the most insightful and well put together analysis of the 4th edition D&D system I have ever seen.

There are people how look at the surface of things, and simply twist all arguments to support their own initial belief. Face it, it's easier to do that than to actually *challenge* your own beliefs. This is some real introspection, here, and I think we would all benefit from taking it seriously, and giving it the time and consideration it deserves.

Don't just set out, determined to *keep* your existing viewpoint. Look at the real reasons behind *why* you feel that way, and maybe, you'll find that it's for all the wrong reasons.

I think the "tyrrany of fun" is a visionary look at this phenomenon in the gaming industry. By making us all the same, we all lose.
there was nothing wrong with the writing. i wont comment on the quality of the argument, but the penmanship was fine.

thank-you to the original poster for providing this article.
I think everyone who is blowing the original poster off with cynicism and sarcasm should really stop and think. Read the words, each and every one of them. To me, this is one of the most insightful and well put together analysis of the 4th edition D&D system I have ever seen.

There are people how look at the surface of things, and simply twist all arguments to support their own initial belief. Face it, it's easier to do that than to actually *challenge* your own beliefs. This is some real introspection, here, and I think we would all benefit from taking it seriously, and giving it the time and consideration it deserves.

Don't just set out, determined to *keep* your existing viewpoint. Look at the real reasons behind *why* you feel that way, and maybe, you'll find that it's for all the wrong reasons.

I think the "tyrrany of fun" is a visionary look at this phenomenon in the gaming industry. By making us all the same, we all lose.

There are people how look at the surface of things, and simply twist all arguments to support their own initial belief. Face it, it's easier to do that than to actually *challenge* your own beliefs.
Not, not at all.

What you described - only seeing your point, and seeing it as truth - applies also to that.

It's a mere opinion, and debated wrong. The recap is wrong - you are not same, you are egal in fair chance.

Again, we see biaised arguments presenting as truth.

Edit; Toward Rant_Casey
I think everyone who is blowing the original poster off with cynicism and sarcasm should really stop and think. Read the words, each and every one of them. To me, this is one of the most insightful and well put together analysis of the 4th edition D&D system I have ever seen.

:shrug: That's your point of view.

I read the words. I read it a couple of times to make sure I understood what he was saying, and I think that I summed it up pretty good with my post above. The posts, as quoted by the OP, is by someone saying that there is only one true version of fun, and that anyone who holds a different viewpoint is wrong. It is the Internet at its finest.

Sure, they use a lot of paragraphs to say it, but that is all it comes down to.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
The Tyranny of Fun is upon us. The Holocaust where all non-fun will be liquidated in an efficient fashion is now forthcoming.
...whatever
Untruth dressed up as pretentious intelectualism and with heavy weight of text is still untruth.
So essentially... 'players who don't know all the intricacies of the game, aka bad players, can have fun, ergo the game is bad'??
58292718 wrote:
I love Horseshoecrabfolk. What I love most about them is that they seem to be the one thing that we all can agree on.
See for yourself, click here!
Mmm... ad hominem and pejorative generalizations. Oh intarwebs, you never change.

On the (only slightly) more serious side; isn't this whole series of rants just advocating an alternative "tyranny of fun?"
I've carefully read this and am going to respond with an arguement of equal merit.

LoL. Go back to /3.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
On the (only slightly) more serious side; isn't this whole series of rants just advocating an alternative "tyranny of fun?"

Yes. But it's the tyranny of his fun over your fun. That makes it entirely reasonable.
Sweet Jebus on a pony.

Tried to read the original posters points. I was physically unable to force myself through them all. It seemed, however to boil down to:

1) He doesn't like 4th edition.

2) He doesn't think we should like 4th edition for some very abstract reasons.

My reply:

1) Fine, not everyone likes every game.

2) You didn't say a single thing, let me repeat that, A SINGLE THING, that made me believe the my previous experiences of "fun" playing the game were actually some kind of mistake on my part. I find 4th edtion fun to play. I cant image going back to previous editions having played it. It is 100% fine if you don't have the same experience, to each his own, lots of other games out there to play. But honestly the arguments you present here are bordering on nonsense to me. Perhaps if you could provide a few concrete examples I might understand your points better.
The most unfortunate aspect of this writing is that much of what he is saying is agreeable and his basic arguments could potentially have some merit. Indeed, there are aspects of the article I agree upon. Sadly, the way his position is presented doesn't properly articulate what he wants or even what he thinks should be done about it and in the end, we simply get a rant.

To conclude, his basic principle is admirable and whether or not it's true is a matter of personal preference. However, his means of presenting his case is poorly done.

Agreed. I feel the same way whenever I read one of TD's posts.


As to the article itself: one of its flawed premises is the assumption that if you spend even one second of your own time on a non-constructive/non-productive activity, you are somehow less of a person or worth less, or whatever he called it. I think that it's perfectly fine to do things that are completely non-constructive, in moderation.

Now, whether or not D&D falls under constructive or non-constructive time spent is something I am not going to comment on at this time.
I've carefully read this and am going to respond with an arguement of equal merit.

LoL. Go back to /3.

I see the raging insecurities of 4E fanboys rears its ugly head again.

Game Design is all about tradeoffs. You gain something, you lose something. That's how design works.

Now, Tyranny of Fun is conceited and trite because it does brand one form of fun to be superior to another - that highly balanced gameplay is inferior to one where there is more leeway and flexibility, albeit the latter can tend to have pretty awful imbalances.

However, Tyranny of Fun is actually correct once you remove the conceited and trite parts for a very simple reason: Roleplaying games are not competetive games.

Balance should therefore be a secondary consideration. The primary consideration is giving people options. Because the whole point of playing a "roleplaying" game is to play different kinds of characters - pirates, mages, fighters, and the like. If you don't have these options, less people will have fun with the game because they simply won't have a character they can connect to.

In short, "Tyranny of Fun" is flawed, but it raises pretty damning truths about the current edition's shortfalls.
I see the raging insecurities of 4E fanboys rears its ugly head again.

I see the raging insecurities of 4E haters rears its ugly head again.

Balance is however important - ironicaly, as P_R said, it needs rules (and good and fair ruling and numbers then).

Also, it miss the fact that artificial pseudo-choices and deliberatly bad or badly crafted choices are a bad thing, REAL, viable choices is more impoertant.
Illusion of choices don't make real liberty; if everyone end up taking similar 'kits', then... what matters?

No, this article prove nothing about this edition than this is highly subjective, and the bias and unfairness of many. It's only 'true' if you in the if 4th ed. is 'bad' for you.
The lesson here: if you are going to present one particular writer as having truly grasped the point of a specious and fallacious phrase like "the tyranny of fun," do yourself a favor and make sure we weren't the people poking holes in his argument at ENWorld (or Penny Arcade).

Melan's an idiot. An eloquent, very well-written idiot, but an idiot nonetheless. He gets up on a soapbox with dreams of being a demagogue and gets it kicked out from under him because he forgot to build his soapbox out of facts twisted to support his argument.
I see the raging insecurities of 4E fanboys rears its ugly head again.

Game Design is all about tradeoffs. You gain something, you lose something. That's how design works.

Now, Tyranny of Fun is conceited and trite because it does brand one form of fun to be superior to another - that highly balanced gameplay is inferior to one where there is more leeway and flexibility, albeit the latter can tend to have pretty awful imbalances.

However, Tyranny of Fun is actually correct once you remove the conceited and trite parts for a very simple reason: Roleplaying games are not competetive games.

Balance should therefore be a secondary consideration. The primary consideration is giving people options. Because the whole point of playing a "roleplaying" game is to play different kinds of characters - pirates, mages, fighters, and the like. If you don't have these options, less people will have fun with the game because they simply won't have a character they can connect to.

In short, "Tyranny of Fun" is flawed, but it raises pretty damning truths about the current edition's shortfalls.

I have to call shenanigans on this. Balance doesn't detract from anything. Imbalance does.
...whatever
The lesson here: if you are going to present one particular writer as having truly grasped the point of a specious and fallacious phrase like "the tyranny of fun," do yourself a favor and make sure we weren't the people poking holes in his argument at ENWorld (or Penny Arcade).

Linkies??
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
I see the raging insecurities of 4E fanboys rears its ugly head again.

Game Design is all about tradeoffs. You gain something, you lose something. That's how design works.

Now, Tyranny of Fun is conceited and trite because it does brand one form of fun to be superior to another - that highly balanced gameplay is inferior to one where there is more leeway and flexibility, albeit the latter can tend to have pretty awful imbalances.

However, Tyranny of Fun is actually correct once you remove the conceited and trite parts for a very simple reason: Roleplaying games are not competetive games.

Balance should therefore be a secondary consideration. The primary consideration is giving people options. Because the whole point of playing a "roleplaying" game is to play different kinds of characters - pirates, mages, fighters, and the like. If you don't have these options, less people will have fun with the game because they simply won't have a character they can connect to.

In short, "Tyranny of Fun" is flawed, but it raises pretty damning truths about the current edition's shortfalls.

If you are a person who is not a pun pun min maxer in a group with a pun pun min maxer D and D is much less fun and also can be somewhat competetive.
However, Tyranny of Fun is actually correct once you remove the conceited and trite parts for a very simple reason: Roleplaying games are not competetive games.

Once you remove the conceited and trite parts, there's scarcely anything left. The real insecurity in this discussion comes from those seeing a game with which they identify very closely moving in a new and unaccustomed direction. If there's one thing worse than being a gaming geek, it's being an obsolete game geek.

This Tyranny of Fun argument isn't new. People who love the old thing complain about the new thing. If their identities are wrapped up enough in the old thing, they may feel the need to justify their preferences by denigrating others. I've played every version of D&D all the way back to the digests. I've never once felt that new versions of the game were catering to my inferiors.
Linkies??

To the original threads? I think it's still in the current D&D thread at Critical Failures on Penny Arcade (I haven't been there in over a week and a half, place bores me when I'm not playing), but I'd have to search for the original thread on ENWorld as I am not a bookmarker, and that would probably take 4-5 hours with the way ENWorld is running. Perhaps the OP has a link?
I wonder what sort of response the "Tyranny of Fun" rant would get if we posted it on Paizo's 4E forum? It would definitely be entertaining to watch.
...whatever
I have to call shenanigans on this. Balance doesn't detract from anything. Imbalance does.

But it does.

Like I keep saying, game design is all about tradeoffs. If you want a more balanced game, you often have to take out certain mechanics that are more in it for the coolness factor rather than the utility factor.

Take the example of Belkar Bitterleaf (from Order of the Stick). Mechanically, he's a total mess. He's a halfling Barbarian/Ranger. With no ranks in Survival. Yet he can totally kick ass. The fact that he's a suboptimal character and yet he's still able to kick so much ass is one of the reasons he's so popular.

Of course, Belkar isn't really a "game" character (the narrative doesn't have dice to deal with). However, I'm fairly sure a lot of players can relate to seeing a sub-optimal wreck of a character (like Belkar) kick a lot of ass. I've seen pure Fighters put finger-wagglers to shame. I've seen grapplers (not the most optimal class) literally save the party by body-slamming a CR +10 enemy and throwing her over a cliff. And precisely because their character is suboptimal, the more impressive such achievements become.

I'd go as far as to say that the level of badassery of a player, is inversely proportional to the amount of firepower the character wields.

Also, note that I said balance is a secondary objective. Didn't say we should discard it entirely.
Once you remove the conceited and trite parts, there's scarcely anything left.

... Why do you think my post is much shorter than the OP? :D

This Tyranny of Fun argument isn't new. People who love the old thing complain about the new thing. If their identities are wrapped up enough in the old thing, they may feel the need to justify their preferences by denigrating others. I've played every version of D&D all the way back to the digests. I've never once felt that new versions of the game were catering to my inferiors.

See, the problem with this argument is that this is also just conceited tripe unless you have the ability to read minds. And frankly, I think none of us here are psychic.
Holy tedious/specious blocks of text, Batman!

And such drippings of elitism.

So... Actualy, not.


And answer this; why play D&D - or any other games, all in all?

Yeah. This was my favorite part

That, gentlemen, is the Axis of Stupid we are facing.

So we can just condense the OP down to two sentences really.

1) Having fun during a game is a bad thing

2) if you like 4e, you are stupid.

Take the example of Belkar Bitterleaf (from Order of the Stick). Mechanically, he's a total mess. He's a halfling Barbarian/Ranger. With no ranks in Survival. Yet he can totally kick ass. The fact that he's a suboptimal character and yet he's still able to kick so much ass is one of the reasons he's so popular.

Point 1: As you yourself admit, it's a lot easier to kick ass if you've got random narrative powers backing you up.

Point 2: Wouldn't it be more awesome if the character concept (angry dual wielding halfling) was NOT sub op? I mean it almost proves the point against you. In 4th ED you stat up your Halfing Ranger and he's actually decent. Not as good as a more optimal builds, but not a total waste compared to the Druid. Sure he's not multied into fighter anymore, but that wasn't part of the character. That was just 3rd EDs twisted way to making the character slightly less lame.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
But it does.

Like I keep saying, game design is all about tradeoffs. If you want a more balanced game, you often have to take out certain mechanics that are more in it for the coolness factor rather than the utility factor.

Take the example of Belkar Bitterleaf (from Order of the Stick). Mechanically, he's a total mess. He's a halfling Barbarian/Ranger. With no ranks in Survival. Yet he can totally kick ass. The fact that he's a suboptimal character and yet he's still able to kick so much ass is one of the reasons he's so popular.

Of course, Belkar isn't really a "game" character (the narrative doesn't have dice to deal with). However, I'm fairly sure a lot of players can relate to seeing a sub-optimal wreck of a character (like Belkar) kick a lot of ass. I've seen pure Fighters put finger-wagglers to shame. I've seen grapplers (not the most optimal class) literally save the party by body-slamming a CR +10 enemy and throwing her over a cliff. And precisely because their character is suboptimal, the more impressive such achievements become.

I'd go as far as to say that the level of badassery of a player, is inversely proportional to the amount of firepower the character wields.

Also, note that I said balance is a secondary objective. Didn't say we should discard it entirely.

What does this have to do with anything? You seem to be asserting that balance removes coolness from the game. Wasn't "cool" beaten into the ground as a word 4E was being built around?
...whatever
Read it months ago. The worst example of Fan Dumb saying D&D is Serious Business and telling people to Stop Having Fun Guys.
Take the example of Belkar Bitterleaf (from Order of the Stick). Mechanically, he's a total mess. He's a halfling Barbarian/Ranger. With no ranks in Survival. Yet he can totally kick ass. The fact that he's a suboptimal character and yet he's still able to kick so much ass is one of the reasons he's so popular.

He's actually pretty decently optimized, in the direction of stealth + maximum damage output, going by core standards.

Of course, one thing going in his favor is that his favored enemies are Everything That Isn't Pleasing Him Right Now, People He Hates, and Not-Belkar. That's +12 damage on pretty much every attack right there, great for a TWFer
Please keep your posts polite, respectful, and on-topic, and refrain from making personal attacks. You are welcome to disagree with one another but please do so respectfully and constructively.
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