Get the Small Stuff Right

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I've had dust blown in my eyes, it takes a lot longer than six seconds to get it out. Sometimes it can take a few minutes. Get the small stuff right, and thus eliminate the niggly little bumps that can mess up the experience.

Dust in the Eye

Reqardless of source whenever a cloud of dust appears around a PC the player must roll a Reflex save to see if the PC avoids getting it in his eyes. On a successful save the PC is effectively blinded for 1d6+4 rounds. On a failed save the duration becomes 1d6+4x10 rounds. With treatmet (rinsing the eye out) blindness is cut to just another round in duration. But rinsing can take 1d3 rounds to affect.

Spell: Rinse Eye: No mechanics because I don't know 4e spell write-ups, but figure 1st level (3e zero level), touch, possibly usable at will or on an by encounter basis.

In any case, the above is an example; matters such as PCs catching themselves when they fall or slip, suffocation, etc. could also use correction.
I typically base my D&D responses to what I'd like to see in the movies... what sort of heroics.

Frankly, I cannot picture Conan or John McClane or Jason Bourne or Gandalf or James Bond or the man with no name stopping to wipe dust out of his eyes.
Well, this could be the base of a new Rogue technique where they throw sand in the enemy's eyes to temporarily blind them. That seems to happen every now and then in the movies.
I typically base my D&D responses to what I'd like to see in the movies... what sort of heroics.

Frankly, I cannot picture Conan or John McClane or Jason Bourne or Gandalf or James Bond or the man with no name stopping to wipe dust out of his eyes.

Of course not, they have authorial immunity. Your PCs don't, so they have to tolerate that sort of crap. :D

Back when the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles were new there was a spoof of them. Known as the Adolescent Radioactive Blackbelt Hamsters, they had adventures of their own, though they looked more like weird little apes than hamsters (the artist had never seen a hamster in his life).

One ARBH went by the name Clint. Clint's signature weapon was the Colt m1911 45cal semiautomatic. Clint would order out for pizza and charge it to the monastary's Master Card.

The comic didn't last long, but they did produce a one shot Clint special. In the story the hamster has to get some goods on somebody, which he does in Clint style. There is one panel showing Clint, having just crashed through a plate glass window, studded with shards of glass, bleeding heavily, and asking himself, "Why does this sort of thing never happen to Batman?"
Some things need to be abstract to keep the game smooth and easy to play.

D&D is like pointilism: If you stare at it too closely, all you'll see is spots.

Fairbanks
Fairbanks, level 5 Human, Slayer (Multiclass: Cavalier) Human Power Selection Option: Heroic Effort Background: Blademaster (Acrobatics class skill) Theme: Neverwinter Noble FINAL ABILITY SCORES STR 18, CON 10, DEX 17, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 13 STARTING ABILITY SCORES STR 16, CON 10, DEX 16, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 12 AC: 20 Fort: 19 Ref: 16 Will: 14 HP: 49/49 Surges: 6/9 Surge Value: 10 [X] Action Point [] Second Wind TRAINED SKILLS Acrobatics +10, Athletics +11, Diplomacy +8, Endurance +7, Intimidate +8 UNTRAINED SKILLS Arcana +2, Bluff +3, Dungeoneering +2, Heal +2, History +2, Insight +2, Nature +2, Perception +2, Religion +2, Stealth +5, Streetwise +3, Thievery +5 POWERS Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack Card Link Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack Card Link [] Human Racial Power: Heroic Effort Card Link [X] [X] Multiple Class Attack: Power Strike Card Link [X] Fighter Utility: Duelist's Assault Card Link [] Fighter Utility: Mobile Blade Card Link [] Level 2 Utility: Honorable Challenge Card Link [] Neverwinter Noble Utility: Take Heart, Friend! Card Link Multiple Class Utility: Defender Aura Card Link [] Paladin Attack: Righteous Radiance Card Link FEATS Level 1: Heavy Blade Expertise Level 1: Armor Finesse Level 2:Heavy Armor Agility Level 4: Squire of Righteousness ITEMS Dagger x3 Adventurer's Kit Aecris Black Iron Scale Mail +1 Horned Helm (Heroic Tier) Holy Symbol of Bahamut 1 Opal 73g 145s 50c
Of course not, they have authorial immunity. Your PCs don't, so they have to tolerate that sort of crap. :D

What do you mean my PCs don't? Your PCs don't.

The comic didn't last long, but they did produce a one shot Clint special. In the story the hamster has to get some goods on somebody, which he does in Clint style. There is one panel showing Clint, having just crashed through a plate glass window, studded with shards of glass, bleeding heavily, and asking himself, "Why does this sort of thing never happen to Batman?"

See, you have to decide whether you want the story to be cool because it's believable, or cool despite the fact that it's unbelievable. Batman is cool despite the fact that he's unbelievable. Any game where you get to roleplay the type of stuff Batman does in a fantasy setting sounds pretty darn cool by me.

When I was a little boy, I used to always point out the scientific inaccuracies in fantasy and science fiction movies. I'd say "The Death Star couldn't explode like that because there isn't enough oxygen in space to feed the fire in the explosion." To which my dad would reply, "Son, that's not the only implausible element of this story."
What do you mean my PCs don't? Your PCs don't.

This is why I oppose RPGs as story. It cheats the player out of what an adventure could be in return for cheap thrills. By making the PCs the heroes de facto it renders the heroics they do perform meaningless.

Bravery is not when you feel no fear, bravery is when you do what needs to be done even when you've been scared sans merde. For the act to have any real meaning it has to be done with death, disfigurment, or embarrassment on the line.

You want the rewards without the risks. Thus you cheapen the rewards, leading to a need for greater rewards without the greater risks. For real accomplishment you pay a price. Whether that price be your life, or a nasty scar on your face, it will be paid. Cool at now risk to yourself is vanity. Cool when you earn it means something.

We value things according to what we paid for them. How highly do you value the deeds of your PCs?
This is why I oppose RPGs as story. It cheats the player out of what an adventure could be in return for cheap thrills. By making the PCs the heroes de facto it renders the heroics they do perform meaningless.

Bravery is not when you feel no fear, bravery is when you do what needs to be done even when you've been scared sans merde. For the act to have any real meaning it has to be done with death, disfigurment, or embarrassment on the line.

You want the rewards without the risks. Thus you cheapen the rewards, leading to a need for greater rewards without the greater risks. For real accomplishment you pay a price. Whether that price be your life, or a nasty scar on your face, it will be paid. Cool at now risk to yourself is vanity. Cool when you earn it means something.

We value things according to what we paid for them. How highly do you value the deeds of your PCs?

Heh, well, now you've turned this into a spillover conversation from another thread. That actually only tangentially addresses what I'm talking about here. Of course there should be challenges that can not only be overcome but also failed. But that's missing the point. The DM and the game mechanics choose which challenges are important to PCs and which aren't - that's a part of any game that simulates some role. If you worried about every little detail of a game, it sacrifices fun for realism. I'd personally rather sacrifice realism for fun since it is after all, a game.

For instance, do characters in your campaigns have to roll every day to see whether they catch a common cold? What about the flu? In real life, sometimes people catch these things out of the blue and it renders them bedridden for weeks. It would be especially common in a quasi-medieval setting, where sanitation is likely to be low. If this were to happen to an adventurer in the middle of a cave-crawl, he or she would find themselves getting lugged around by their allies, useless and sluggish. While appropriate in some games, this challenge is absent in others. Does that mean that there are no challenges in games without the common cold? No. It just means that the common cold is skipped over, perhaps in favor of more fantastical and heroic diseases that turn you into a ghoul or something.

D&D is a fantasy adventure game. There's a lot of wiggle room for DMs to pick and choose what type of adventure fantasy game they're running, but certain challenges in some DMs' games never pop up in others'. Despite your accusation, my characters do indeed face risks. But their risks involve a treasure room booby trapped with carved moldings that shoot arrows at anyone stepping on the pressure plate next to the McGuffin, while simultaneously awakening the sleeping gargoyles that were previously thought to be statues. In the interests of speeding the game up to get to stuff like that, I skip past dust in the eyes, which is, to me, a little less interesting (my sincere condolences about the time dust was blown in your face.) Batman also faces risks, else no one would show any interest in his stories. The writer (who is in this case the DM) has simply chosen to narrow the types of challenges Batman faces to fit the genre. Heck, even Superman faces risks, those risks just aren't to his person (unless there's kryptonite present.) But he routinely has to watch those he cares about get kidnapped and struggle to protect the weak before they are murdered at the hands of villains. Even if there's no possibility of personal injury, there can still be risk.

Here's a quote from an indy game designer that illustrates my point:
The genre also determines what shticks are appropriate. A stampede is an appropriate shtick for a Western, just as getting slipped a mickey is appropriate for a Detective Noir game, but the reverse is not true (no stampedes for Sam Spade, please).

What is an appropriate challenge in one game is a glazed over fact in another. Since those two genres aren't historically contemporary, perhaps it would be more useful to compare a Spaghetti Western game with an old John Wayne Western game. In the former, combat mechanics would be gritty and involve steep penalties for getting shot, and there would be specialized formal mechanics for encouraging the use of high-noon shootouts. In the latter, getting shot just means the man in the white hat has to sit down for the rest of the fire-fight while the local medicine man patches him back up - the Duke isn't afraid of a little bullet. Is it realistic? No (in fact neither are realistic under scrutiny), but both can be fun. Designing your game with an eye to realism is fine, but limiting your perception of what a game can be due to realism, especially in a world where magic spells break the bounds of plausibility all the time, is unfortunate.

You are telling a story with your games whether you like it or not. In your games, characters struggle to live up to the word "hero." That's your choice and I think it's a fine one. In my generic fantasy games, I say, okay, you're already heroes, you don't have to worry about breaking bones or suffering from glaucoma, but you do have to worry about saving the princess. Do I always do this? No. Sometimes I run fantasy horror games where the characters' very sanity is at stake on a regular basis. And I run those with different parameters (the characters very seldom feel like heroes, in fact, most of the time they're victims.)

You want the game to "Get the Small Stuff Right," but that assumes that everyone "Sweats the Small Stuff."
Elessar, you miss so much.

It's about being there. It's about the city streets and the dank, dripping walls far underground. It's about skittering claws on moldy wood and the yowls of a love lorn cat. It's about muttered prayers and mumbled incantations as a round is jacked into the chamber, and a young dragon draws in a breath ere he expels it upon you as a cloud of noxious gas.

It's the experience.

You've never been the hero. You've always been some dumb chump risking his life for rumors and lies. You walk into lairs, fall into pits, and lie outrageously to creatures who've lived longer than your species has existed. One or two may even predate your phylum.

Sometimes you get to be brave and heroic, but never forget your first duty is to do your duty. Earn your pay, back up your mates, and make those other poor bastards die for their country. Even when the rules allow for outrageous stunts and incredible feats, the price of failure is often awful indeed.

The true reward of being heroic is that people start to demand it of you. When they aren't accusing you of every crime known to Man because they resent you for being so damn heroic. You collect accolades, you collect rewards, you amass a fortune it takes all your time keeping track of and secure. Young punks looking for a rep hunt you down, and the sons and daughters of those you've ruined or killed seek you out for revenge. While you start to wonder what that Death Knight meant when he asked you, "What took you so damn long?"

You get sick of being the hero, the wunderkind. You start seeking out the mundane, the ordinary. Politics and intrigue, rides through seas of grass past shoals of bison and cattle. You find yourself having more in common with the orcs and demons you slay, while the folk you ostensibly defend become bothersome pests. There's a good reason why evil overlords tend to be ex-heroes.

Wonders become dross when they're daily events, and soon enough you find yourself looking for the daisy in that field of roses. And when you've just converted your 10th dragon skull into the 5th bedroom in your mansion, it's the flower pot dropped from the third floor that kills you.

Take time to enjoy the ordinary, take pride in accomplishing the mundane. The same skills that let you climb sheer walls can also be used to get cats out of tall trees; and little girls are a dang site more grateful for the latter. Consider what ordinary peple doing ordinary things accomplish, and remember that you and you kind could disappear and not change a thing, while if they disappeared your life would be altered in a very bad way.

Oh yes, we need heroes. But heroes aint those who do heroic things expecting to become heroes. Heroes are the people who do heroic things because they need to be done.

But all that aside there's one good reason you want to be true to the small stuff, it gives you a solid foundation for the fantastic and wondrous.
Elessar, you miss so much.

And you sound like someone who's only ever played one roleplaying system. I like the "from the ground up" system just fine, thanks. I've played it many, many times.

I started playing D&D when it was AD&D, and I was a strict adherent to the rules, which rather forced players to start from lowly beginnings and scrape for those great rolls which allowed you to do something truly heroic. My DM, on top of that, was a historical realist. Before 3.5's armor rules, he used to have our characters help each other don armor for the sake of accuracy. So you needn't talk to me like I'm a child seeing the world for the first time.

I've stepped outside Plato's cave, and further than that I've hopped on rocket ships to other planets where gravity as I knew it no longer existed. I've played superhero systems that inflate my characters abilities with amazing powers right from the start, as well as horror games that put me in the dark with a snarling monster armed with nothing but a flashlight.

The point I've been trying to make is that the system suits the genre. In the aforementioned horror genre, players are weak not just at the beginning of the game, but all 20 (or whatever) levels of play. Why? Because that's the point of the genre. When I'm playing a horror game, I want to be scared. And I don't need a system that simulates reality exactly to do that.

In game mechanics, there's an invisible scale of realism. On the one end, we have complete and utter freedom. Whatever the players want their characters to be, they are. They tell the DM what their characters do, and they do it. The DM tells them the effects of their characters' actions on the world. On the other end, we have the DM hunched over a calculator making physics equations, and player characters constrained by the physics of their individual character. Every action they do, even if it is lifting a pencil, is a triumph of the player's will over the quantum mechanics that govern the imaginary universe. Both your D&D game and my D&D game are in the middle of this scale, but mine is about an inch more towards the former, and yours is about an inch more towards the latter.

In any case, I don't need to be sold on the "from lowly beginnings" shtick. It's a style, not the end all be all. And the mechanics you're advocating support that style. You sound like you like that style, to the point of waxing poetic about it. I think that's fantastic. I've played it, and a great number of other styles of play. If you think that yours is the only rewarding style of play, however, then it is you my friend, who are missing much.