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Author Topic: Challenge the Player, not the Stat Block (D&D)  (Read 6759 times)
greyorm
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« Reply #45 on: May 23, 2009, 09:25:30 PM »

Since I'm being asked directly, I'll answer. To me, this is indicative of part of the problem: clearly, we're speaking different languages, because (though I'll agree I see how the terms I used could be taken to be polarizing) I just don't agree that what you're saying the thread started as and what it is now is what it always has been about.

Quite honestly, "stat block" and "the rules mechanics" are two very, very clear and distinct things for me. Nowhere in a stat block does it say "roll a d20 plus modifiers and compare to AC" or "now subtract the results of your d8 from the HP". They are quite clearly to me "tools you have" (things in your stat block) and "things you do with the tools" (actions to which mechanics are applied).

I have been approaching this from the standpoint that the thread began with complaints about character detailing rules (such as skills, feats, or otherwise) creating a state of "gamism before" where play is pre-ordained and no choices are made in play because the options are set--now you just push buttons--contrasted with how we supposedly did it in the old days when characters didn't have feats or skills or big blocks of stuff on their sheet, and it was loose, and freeform, and open-ended.

But the only example I've seen thus far showcasing how things get futzed up because of character stats has been one of: hit points making the combat portion of the game into one of attrition.

How does a problem with the mechanics of combat making hit points cause breakdowns in player choice at high levels support or bring one to conclude that the problem is that skills, feats, and various other character stat bits cause gamism before?

This seems to me to be two very separate issues being confounded as a single issue. Or at least a number of very different issues being discussed under the heading of one single issue. Because right now I'm seeing: the stat block problem (ie: character detail) = gamism before problem = problematic rules issues. Based on some very flimsy and tenuous connections that aren't necessarily true.

It seems to me--given the thread beginning with the claim that "hey, in the old days we didn't have all these details on the sheet...I think they are the source of this problem I'm looking at"--the claim is being made that "skills/character detailing = broken mechanics/gamism before", when I'm looking and seeing "broken mechanics = gamism before" and nothing to do with the inclusion of skills or character detailing/power boundaries/expressed options and limits/etc. at all.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Callan S.
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« Reply #46 on: May 23, 2009, 11:28:11 PM »

Well, if character skills, power bounderies etc are chosen by a player before gameplay, and they are more significant in determining whether you win or lose than in game choices, then that is how character skills, power bounderies, etc etc strongly facilitate gamism before rather than gamism now. Because the player is choosing them before gameplay begins and they matter the most in terms of whether you win.

Though if the character skills, etc, didn't mean much towards the result of play, then it's true, they wouldn't matter much in determining whether it's a gamism before or gamism now game. I'll grant that.

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Quite honestly, "stat block" and "the rules mechanics" are two very, very clear and distinct things for me. Nowhere in a stat block does it say "roll a d20 plus modifiers and compare to AC" or "now subtract the results of your d8 from the HP". They are quite clearly to me "tools you have" (things in your stat block) and "things you do with the tools" (actions to which mechanics are applied).
I think your seeing more choice involved than there is? If I give you three options, one gives you fifty bucks and the other two give you one and two bucks respectively, do you have three options? No, it's an illusion of choice. Combat in D&D and other RPGs usually broke down to one superior choice - and thus there was no choice. You didn't have tools that you could choose to use, you were just playing out a statistical simulation where all the important choices were already made. There's not much point in distinguishing 'tools you have' and 'things you can do' when you have no choice about either. It's better to see it as the stat block vs stat block that it actually is.

I'm thinking either you always gameplay where what was the optimal choice was largely uncertain rather than a forgone conclusion, or you only thought you did. That's a hard thing to ponder.

Also, anyone remember progress quest?
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contracycle
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Posts: 2984


« Reply #47 on: May 23, 2009, 11:29:52 PM »

I don't disagree that this is, at root, a mechanical issue, but you asked for examples of how the system, whether or not we refer to it as a "stat block", can disemplower the player.  Yes, I would agree that much of the problem is was implicit from the beginning, and I'm not entirely convinced that reverting to an earlier version would make the problem go away.

The question you asked, though, was not phrased as a contrast between mechanics and bloat of those mechanics; rather, you drew the comparison with a CCG and argued that however pre-designed the deck  was it did not deny player decision in play.  Thus, I was trying to illustrate ways in which the system can indeed deny such decision.

Has the subsequent bloat over the years made the problem worse?  I suspect so, especially when I see an example given of a starting character appearing with swords "of sharpness" - and, two of them no less.  The response to the problem that the system over-determines character action seems to have been to slather on yet another layer of determination.

The question of skills and stuff is less system specific, and I agree with the general point that if there is a "pit digging" skill in the rules, then by implication anyone without that skill trying to dig a pit would accrue some sort of unskilled penalty - however silly we may feel that is.  And therefore, it does tend to have a chilling effect on the kind of things players attempt to do.  You have pointed out that in the absence of skills there was a lot of GM fiat in play, and I agree with this too; I have no response to that except some sort of cheesy old "happy medium".
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greyorm
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« Reply #48 on: May 24, 2009, 09:34:28 AM »

Well, if character skills, power bounderies etc are chosen by a player before gameplay, and they are more significant in determining whether you win or lose than in game choices, then that is how character skills, power bounderies, etc etc strongly facilitate gamism before rather than gamism now.

Completely agreed.

But here's my problem with the thread discussion: aren't ability scores and classes already a power boundary? Thus where does it end...at complete freeforming? I know you wouldn't claim that. Yet we can't just say "creating boundaries is bad" or "fewer boundaries are better". How few? What's the litmus test? Etc?

So how can it be a "back in the old days" vs. "in our games today" issue--as per the idea it seems the thread started with--when we're talking about something that has always been because of the fundamental design of the games in question?

Consider: high level gameplay in old D&D, or in similar combat systems, has always been about attrition. I don't think detail-creep has made this either any worse or any better.

That's what I'm trying to figure out.

I guess what I'm trying to get across is that I'm looking for acknowledgment that "you know, this isn't really about the old days versus today", or an argument that supports the original contention of "it is about the old days versus today" that accounts for the above.

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You didn't have tools that you could choose to use, you were just playing out a statistical simulation where all the important choices were already made. There's not much point in distinguishing 'tools you have' and 'things you can do' when you have no choice about either. It's better to see it as the stat block vs stat block that it actually is.

Complete disagreement with that characterization and conclusion. Might as well throw the baby out with the bathwater because the water is dirty and the baby is in it? Tools are still separate from mechanics, even if in play they are part of a statistical simulation created by both.

The problem, as someone noted up-thread, seems to be that this happens at higher levels. At lower levels, all sorts of tricksy things come into play for use by players in defeating their opponents. At lower levels, it isn't just an attrition game, and tactics (surprise, traps, minor combat bonuses, etc) matter in play, even if one is a dual-sword wielding combat powerhouse.

It seems: the nature of the stat block changes as the stat block passes a certain power-threshold in relation to the mechanics.

I don't disagree that this is, at root, a mechanical issue, but you asked for examples of how the system, whether or not we refer to it as a "stat block", can disemplower the player.  Yes, I would agree that much of the problem is was implicit from the beginning, and I'm not entirely convinced that reverting to an earlier version would make the problem go away.

Ok, I'm with you there, and I certainly agree about the last line.

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The question you asked, though, was not phrased as a contrast between mechanics and bloat of those mechanics; rather, you drew the comparison with a CCG and argued that however pre-designed the deck  was it did not deny player decision in play.  Thus, I was trying to illustrate ways in which the system can indeed deny such decision.

Ok, understood.

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And therefore, it does tend to have a chilling effect on the kind of things players attempt to do.

Well, that is one of the statements I disagree with based on personal observation of play over the years--though dependent on system design--but I do agree with this:

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You have pointed out that in the absence of skills there was a lot of GM fiat in play, and I agree with this too; I have no response to that except some sort of cheesy old "happy medium".
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Callan S.
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« Reply #49 on: May 24, 2009, 12:05:07 PM »

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Yet we can't just say "creating boundaries is bad"

Well, we can. Specifically we can say players deciding boundaries in advance of play, is bad for facilitating gamism now.

I think there's a bit of a blur here where your talking about putting in boundaries at all, but then using that as a support for the idea of players deciding boundaries. Presetting boundaries as a designer and players choosing boundaries (from a preset list) are quite different. I think obviously designers preset boundaries - but that doesn't say anything about players needing to decide any.

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So how can it be a "back in the old days" vs. "in our games today" issue
I don't know? Is it? I thought that was just hyperbole and just a way in which Jonathan was making his approach distinct? I mean, were looking at practical, get it to the game table tomorrow issues - the historical order of things just don't matter in terms of that. Atleast for myself I'm not interested in history for this thread (and wont be revising my memory of history based on this thread, if that's a concern)

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Complete disagreement with that characterization and conclusion. Might as well throw the baby out with the bathwater because the water is dirty and the baby is in it? Tools are still separate from mechanics, even if in play they are part of a statistical simulation created by both.
Well, I gave my reasoning for it but you've repeated your position without entering into those reasons.
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The problem, as someone noted up-thread, seems to be that this happens at higher levels. At lower levels, all sorts of tricksy things come into play for use by players in defeating their opponents. At lower levels, it isn't just an attrition game, and tactics (surprise, traps, minor combat bonuses, etc) matter in play, even if one is a dual-sword wielding combat powerhouse.
I think this may be veering off - your saying the problem is an attrition game, then saying it doesn't apply at low levels. I think we need to keep looking at player choices prior to play (if any) and player choices in play (if any) and which are more important toward winning.
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Daniel B
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« Reply #50 on: May 24, 2009, 12:54:32 PM »


Also, anyone remember progress quest?


8-O

I just looked...  stat-block challenge incarnate.

.. must .. resist .. unreasonable urge .. to play ... aaaaargh!! ...
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Callan S.
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« Reply #51 on: May 24, 2009, 05:11:17 PM »

I have a level 64 enchanted motocycle mu-fu monk called Revalicious. Her motto is "I will have revenge - then revenge+1...+2...+3..."...let me tell you about my character...

Noooo! But yeah, I'd also use that as the defintion of an absolute stat block challenge. And indeed it was made to parody mmorpg play, which appear to give choice but as with my 'always the same optimal choice' example from above, there really isn't a choice.

Jonathan, does progress quest sound a good example of an absolute stat block challenge? Apart from the automation, I mean, rather than people having to roll and add up manually to do the same thing.
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LandonSuffered
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« Reply #52 on: May 24, 2009, 06:11:12 PM »


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Quote
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So how can it be a "back in the old days" vs. "in our games today" issue
I don't know? Is it? I thought that was just hyperbole and just a way in which Jonathan was making his approach distinct? I mean, were looking at practical, get it to the game table tomorrow issues - the historical order of things just don't matter in terms of that. Atleast for myself I'm not interested in history for this thread (and wont be revising my memory of history based on this thread, if that's a concern)

Um…maybe I should say something or two here about the point of my thread, since we’re starting to get all crazy and stuff.  I’ve been down at the Seattle Folk Life Festival enjoying the sun and caring for an over-excited (and barfing) dog…sorry I haven’t had a chance to respond sooner.

In reading my initial post, it appears I had two main points:

1)   Recent readings of some of the Old School Renaissance forums (Grognardia, Odeforblackdougal, etc.) as well as threads on other “old school” forums has reminded me of an important difference between old D&D and more recent versions: what I called (perhaps in rather inflammatory fashion): "challenge the player, not the stat block."

2)   I enjoy that particular type of gamist play, and remembering it makes me want to get into an old school-type D&D game.

Now over the course of this thread, one could infer from my postings that I have a rather negative perspective of D20 D&D.  This is accurate.  There are a lot of things I initially liked about the game when it came out, but after actually playing the game (on multiple occasions) I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t work for me (i.e. it fails to satisfy) on a VARIETY OF DIFFERENT LEVELS…so much so that I’ve stopped playing it all together. AND I thought it may have soured me to D&D (the game) completely.

However, some of those things that I dislike about D20 I found difficult to articulate…until I found someone nailing it down for me in an old school blog.  And that’s the whole “challenge the player-thing."  

SO: great, now what? Here’s what:

a)   If I’m playing a game that is going to challenge me at all, (i.e. satisfy a gamist agenda), I want to be challenged IN PLAY.  Not before play. Period.  

b)   Old School games set a foundation for allowing players (not their characters…i.e. the numbers on the paper) to be challenged in play.  They do this in several ways but the two main ways are: fewer mechanic choices prior to play (random attributes, a limited equipment selection, no skills/feats/mixing classes during advancement, etc.), AND fewer rules stipulations during play (e.g. no skills, feats, monster “types,” limitations on magic, etc.) necessitating more improvisation, clever thinking, and innovation.  There are other ways Old School games do this, too (morale and reaction rules, for example), but these are secondary in my mind to the others.

c)   D20 games fail to provide the same sort of in play challenge by dint of too much definition (for lack of a better word to describe the intersection of extensive rules with extensive options).  For the most part, the game is “create the coolest character” prior to actual play.

Raven:  I’m not sure exactly what you mean when you write:

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again, I'm not seeing how that maps to skills and feats and ability scores ala a "stat block", things which don't have the level creep problem of hit points and combat (making skill checks doesn't or shouldn't become more difficult as your level rises) and which it seemed the thread was initially talking about.

(emphasis mine)

You must be playing a different version of D20 from myself…traps have challenge levels just like encounters, and difficulty ratings geared to what is approximately available to a character of a given level.  If I play a 10th level Rogue, I’m going to have a Find Traps skill of 13, plus or minus my appropriate attribute bonus and any additional feat/magic bonuses, assuming I have optimized my character for his “standard role.”  Any traps encountered on an adventure will be around DC 25, give or take 2 or 3 up/down depending on whether it is a “hard” or “easy” trap.  

All challenges in D20 are scaled this way!  From Spell saves and Dragon Breath to jumping or climbing!  Adventures are scaled based on character optimization.

Look at the pre-gen characters in D20 modules that have pre-gen characters…they are optimized for their standard roles.   What does this mean?  Well, assuming you “optimized” you’ve got about a 50-50 chance (give or take) to accomplish most tasks you encounter.  If you FAILED to optimize your character, you’ll be hard pressed to succeed in a D20 adventure (i.e. your “stat block” will be “losing” challenges).  If you min-maxed your character, you’ll be blowing through some challenges…and possibly failing miserably at others.

In the end, D20 (I assume version 4 as well, which seems even more like a "scaling video game” a la World of Warcraft to my eyes) is a game of meeting a challenge prior to game play (i.e. in between sessions or before the first adventure), and resource management (hit points, spells, limited use abilities, equipment) DURING game play.  

And in MY opinion that sucks.

But to each his or her own.  For me, I’m happy that I see there’s still a way to play D&D that’s fun and cool in a “gamist” way (for when I take a break from all these “Story Now” games I’ve been buying lately); I’d forgotten what Old School play was really like.  I am sorry WOTC/Hasbro has so royally f’d a good thing, and continue to do so by acquiring greater portions of RPG market share…but that’s NOT the point of this post.

Hey…and if anyone’s wondering what I hope to get out of this thread…not a blessed thing.  I posted to AP because I was reminded of some Actual Play from the past, and how it relates to game design, and so I posted it here ‘cause I guess I just wanted to share and maybe plug those Old School web sites for folks looking for something cool and kind of fun.

Oh…and by the way:  if you’ve had problems with “DM fiat” in the past, that’s a non-issue, in my opinion.  At some point, every game that has a GM will have a GM fiat at some point (even D20), and when it comes up, you’ve got to hope your GM plays fair.  If not, institute some sort of democracy-voting house rules or find a better GM.

And if you have a problem with creative problem solving in game…well, all I can say is that the mind is a muscle, and you might want to exercise it with some of these old school games. It WILL get stronger.

: )

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Jonathan
LandonSuffered
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« Reply #53 on: May 24, 2009, 06:17:33 PM »


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Jonathan, does progress quest sound a good example of an absolute stat block challenge? Apart from the automation, I mean, rather than people having to roll and add up manually to do the same thing.

Sorry, Callan…cross-post (or I would have responded in the prior entry).

I’m not familiar with Progress Quest and I have no desire to download it if it IS a measure of stat block challenge (I don’t play Mafia on facebook, either).  But why try to “out-video-game a video game” with an RPG?  That’s a retarded waste of time.

I guess people want to do SOMEthing with those D20 books they spent money on.  Hey, at least they have pretty pictures and nice paper.  : )


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Jonathan
Caldis
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« Reply #54 on: May 24, 2009, 08:29:43 PM »

1)   Recent readings of some of the Old School Renaissance forums (Grognardia, Odeforblackdougal, etc.) as well as threads on other “old school” forums has reminded me of an important difference between old D&D and more recent versions: what I called (perhaps in rather inflammatory fashion): "challenge the player, not the stat block."

I'll just reiterate what I said earlier.  This isnt a difference in old D&D versus new D&D even though much of the talk about old school would have you believe it is.  This is an agenda clash because while many of the people who played D&D back in the old school time did play in that fashion many did not.  Stat blocks are irrelevant, if the game is about challenging the player then it is gamist if the game isnt about challenging the player then it's something else, there's no such thing as gamism before.  Stat blocks can be a resource the player can use to meet the challenges but its still the players challenge to try and utilize them effectively.  Or they can be used as descriptors of the world and we realize that a character with skill y should be able to handle challenge x in such a fashion, it's no longer in the players hand it's how the world works.

More detailed systems do provide more grounds for those trying to model a world to work with but it is still possible to challenge the player rather than the stats in such a system.
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greyorm
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« Reply #55 on: May 24, 2009, 09:26:20 PM »

Well, we can. Specifically we can say players deciding boundaries in advance of play, is bad for facilitating gamism now.

"Fighter" is a boundary. "Wizard" is a boundary. Would I assume correctly you would say that is a design boundary rather than a player boundary? (IMO, that would be splitting some pretty fine theoretical hairs and I don't think (or see) there's a good line between them. Would you be willing to give a dictionary-style definition of a design-created boundary and a player-created boundary and the difference between them? Perhaps list some of each category?)

But let's say I decide my character is a war-priest who doesn't have access to healing spells. Or a one-handed thief who has penalties to picking locks. Maybe he's a clever merchant so I give him a bunch of high social skills. Or a cruel wizard with a thing for cooking weird foods. Are those player-created boundaries? Are the randomized stats a player-created randomized boundary per unique character (they seem to be)?

If so, I can't do any of that or it's "gamism before" because I'm deciding on boundaries before play, whether mechanical or presentational. And where would the challenge be if I don't set character boundaries before play? Are we going to freeform it and now my character can do anything/everything? What you are suggesting would be, to me, completely inimical to fun, to the challenge of gamism: utilizing the set of tools at one's disposal to overcome a particular challenge or set of challenges.

(It would seem instead to me, the fewer tools with which to solve a puzzle, the greater the challenge. The more boundaries you have, the more thinking is required. Which is what makes challenges fun.)

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Well, I gave my reasoning for it but you've repeated your position without entering into those reasons.

Is it my turn to say "what the fuck?" There were words after the statement that I disagreed with you, the part where I explained why I thought your reasoning was erroneous.

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I think this may be veering off - your saying the problem is an attrition game, then saying it doesn't apply at low levels. I think we need to keep looking at player choices prior to play (if any) and player choices in play (if any) and which are more important toward winning.

But let me try one last time to be clear about my point with attrition: someone else pointed out "attrition" is an example of the "gamism before" problem--the system making choices for the player--specifically, how it prevents game choices like making surprise checks. To which I noted that particular issue isn't a problem in low-level play and suggested there may be mechanical break-points where play moves from "gamism now" to "gamism before".

Exactly what you've said we should be doing: looking at player choices and which are important to stepping up to challenges in play.

Also note: I'm responding to the arguments others are putting forth. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't try to change goalposts and say "well, that isn't actually important" when I ask a question about or make a contrary observation regarding the nature of those arguments. But that does clear at least one thing up: having read J's response above, all I can say at this point is you and he are presenting two different arguments.

That is really making for a messy thread, and trying to discuss those two arguments has done nothing but created confusion, as I respond to points in one argument, and have those points judged in the other argument. Maybe once these arguments are separated out, I'd discuss them further, but right now it is proving quite aggravating to juggle two very separate discussions.

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And if you have a problem with creative problem solving in game…well, all I can say is that the mind is a muscle, and you might want to exercise it with some of these old school games. It WILL get stronger.

...and given this kind of patronizing tone throughout--about old school games requiring more challenge and creativity, and the new school games somehow requiring less creativity--and going so far at this point to call me stupid without coming out and saying it. Honestly, wow. Not classy, J. Just not.

I'd honestly love to discuss the idea that fewer character detail choices before play and greater rule stipulations reduce creative choices and improvisation by the players (an idea I strongly disagree with based on my own experiences in play, but that I'd like to make sense of), because in two-and-a-half decades of play I haven't experienced at all the claimed lack of creative challenge or "gamism before" in new school versus old school games, having played both old school and new school games regularly (heck, I just finished a true old school D&D game with the kids, and am currently playing in new school 3E and CoC 6th games).

But I'm not keen on discussing anything when that twenty-plus years of gaming experiences are ignored and rudely dismissed when it doesn't fit into the scheme of someone else's new, untested, revealed pet theory proving how their favoritest game ever is really the betterest game ever. Forget it, guys, this swing towards a bullshit attitude of "edition wars" is not worth continued time. Seen way to much of that garbage in my time. I apologize, but feel free to carry on without me for this one until such time as that particular miasma clears.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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LandonSuffered
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« Reply #56 on: May 24, 2009, 11:05:08 PM »


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And if you have a problem with creative problem solving in game…well, all I can say is that the mind is a muscle, and you might want to exercise it with some of these old school games. It WILL get stronger.

...and given this kind of patronizing tone throughout--about old school games requiring more challenge and creativity, and the new school games somehow requiring less creativity--and going so far at this point to call me stupid without coming out and saying it. Honestly, wow. Not classy, J. Just not.

Sorry, if I gave offense...that was not aimed at you in particular, Raven (more than one person commenting on this thread has stated they "don't like riddles/puzzles.").

I would like to say for the record, that one of the things that initially drew me to D20 D&D was the creative potential inherent in the character creation process.  I had a Dwarf Rogue/Duelist, a Wild Elf Barbarian, a Halfling Paladin, and a Gnomish Fighter...all cool characters that were "outside the box" and very neat.  But the game play itself...well, it didn't feel nearly as tasty, once the game was underway.

That duelist particulary...I had to work that guy from 1st level on up to have a swashbuckling dwarf, and I made great use of Tumble and Bluff (for feints, etc.).  But it was boring and mechanical after awhile...the fun was in plotting the class, feat, and skill selection, NOT in actually using the classes, feats, and skills.  Again, challenge prior to play, not in play.

Oh, well...I stated what the point of my post was, and it was not supposed to devolve into "edition wars," but I see that it has and I bear full responsibility for that...I used what I don't like about one game to illustrate what I do like about a different one.  I was rather hoping this thread could turn into a discussion about WAYS to challenge players in play (with examples from other readers Actual Play history), or even ways to incorporate player challenge into game design (since I see the Forge as a place to discuss design and theory).  But I suppose it would be easier to start a new thread on that particular topic then to continue on this one where there's been four pages of argument.







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Jonathan
Callan S.
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« Reply #57 on: May 25, 2009, 01:30:42 AM »

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I was rather hoping this thread could turn into a discussion about WAYS to challenge players in play (with examples from other readers Actual Play history), or even ways to incorporate player challenge into game design
I've tried out rolling a d12 not only for its number, but to try and hit a small cardboard target. And, so embaressing, I think I put some miss chance on the roll - imagine hitting the target and being told you missed! So silly. But outside of that, that was fun.

Also another time rather than the player, as GM I determined monsters on the map, then I had to throw a dice (always throwing them, aren't I?) into a bowl from a distance, otherwise the designated monster didn't show up. Kind of challenging the player semi directly with my own throwing skill, there :)

In terms of narrations that might win - I'm skeptical about always thinking people are syncronised imaginatively enough to do that. I mean, did the guy make the wrong move, or do both player and GM simply think in different ways? (and isn't it good for us to think differently, to begin with - thus something we aught to expect given we think it's good?) So I always think you should get some bonus for just trying a narration, because the mutual thinking that it would have made it work, might not be there in that particular instance. Though this always seems to be tricky ground to talk about - people always seem to think of, what appears to me to be non mutual thought, as an error on the part of the other.

If you start a new thread, I might cut and paste this over, if that's okay?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #58 on: May 25, 2009, 07:39:42 AM »

This might surprise everyone, but I think it's been a pretty good thread. I do think everyone who contributed should look back and see how or whether he misinterpreted or reacted strongly to what someone else posted, and remember that no one initially responds rationally as soon as the words "old school play" or "original D&D" or anything similar. The key is not to go with one's initial reaction in responding, nor even with the second reaction which typically rationalizes the emotions as arising from some tone or implication in the post.

Let's close it here and head for the new thread when it starts, started by whoever wants. Callan, I'm sure your final post will do well there, or if you want, let that even be the new thread-start if that makes sense for what you want.

Best, Ron
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