P&P said:An encounter that the player characters cannot overcome through combat is fine, imo, provided there's another option. It only becomes a problem if they can't anticipate it - or if they can anticipate it, they can't avoid it, sneak past it, or talk their way past it.
One of the early 1e adventures, aimed at a party of starting characters, included a room full of 32 kobolds. If they charged the room, a wipe was pretty much inevitable; but the encounter was avoidable. The adventure designer simply assumed that the PCs would scout ahead, or would capture an earlier kobold and interrogate it, or would otherwise have some means of reconnaissance on hand. And, crucially, the adventure designer also assumed that it is okay to wipe the party if they fail to scout effectively.
I imagine that every DM here has used encounters the players couldn't beat in combat. Those encounters where a bunch of lowbie PCs has to tiptoe past a slumbering Giant are fine. Those encounters where a bunch of lowbie PCs have to talk their way past an alert but stupid Giant are also fine.
The alternative is to fill endless dungeons full of rooms that the PCs can definitely beat. The problem with this is that superior players will simply waltz through such a place, cherry-picking the encounters that they want to work on and dodging the ones they don't, and therefore it presents no challenge to them - but inferior players will simply charge, room by room, boot door, kill monster, grab treasure.
Frankly, a lot of people who've been playing for a long time still suck at D&D because they've never learned better.
You can tell these players because they fail to scout ahead, fail to take captives, fail to interrogate captives on the rare occasions when they do get some, and then whine when they run into an encounter they can't hack their way through. Often they will charge in without a plan and whine when they die. They fail to search for traps and then whine when a trap kills them. They fight to the death and often the idea that they can surrender to monsters doesn't even occur to them. They squabble and separate and even duel each other in dungeons.
These players who suck often continue to get away with it because when they die, they blame the DM for creating encounters that they couldn't handle. And all too often the DM believes them and tones back the encounters so that they can continue to suck at D&D without losing any characters.
I call it Sandbox D&D. The players play in a nice, safe sandbox where the DM has carefully removed the nasty sharp objects that could hurt them. If there's a difficult encounter coming up, the DM carefully flags it up for them and gives them plenty of warning. (I keep imagining dungeons with big signs on some of the doors saying "Health warning: This encounter could be harmful!") Treasure's contained in nice, helpfully-obvious containers scattered evenly throughout the dungeon, with some of the containers having predictable traps that will cause nothing worse than mild inconvenience if triggered. Heaven forbid that anything would actually be hidden effectively.
The problem with this comes when you get people who've only ever played Sandbox D&D playing around in a non-Sandbox dungeon. They get hurt on the nasty sharp edges and they think the DM's being unfair to them (classic example: Tomb of Horrors - players with any actual skill at D&D can get through it without casualties; Sandbox D&D players get wiped around room 7).
Sometimes, there are tears.
If it's any comfort, I think we're actually about to go through a big revival of classic style play, but now attached to new rulesets and more strongly formalised that it was during Gygax. I don't think it's a new play culture such that I would call it "neo-classical" but it's an interesting third wave (after the original and then the early 2000s revival).Lastly, the thing that's getting to be weird in an Orwellian sense is how the "classic playstyle" is getting discounted and erased from the history books. Just because it was vibrant and diverse doesn't make it equivalent to white-noise. It's a simple fact that people played differently back then...probably because people (specifically American culture) was different back then too. You can't really turn back the clock, but you can (like I did with my kids) do something similar that works today. I think new comers who hear all the "it used to be better" talk are frustrated because it's (temporally) out-of-reach, and want to dismiss it as a fictional "Golden Age". Rest assured, there was a whole lot of bad DMing and half-baked notions back then too---just read The Dragon!
Could you remind me what proceduralism is?"proceduralism"
Settembrini and Prince had an interesting (English) podcast together on this topicIf it's any comfort, I think we're actually about to go through a big revival of classic style play, but now attached to new rulesets and more strongly formalised that it was during Gygax. I don't think it's a new play culture such that I would call it "neo-classical" but it's an interesting third wave (after the original and then the early 2000s revival).
I hadn't thought of that!Maybe it's something to do with procedural generation? There is an awful lot of that (and I'm a fan when it's judiciously applied!), but I feel like that's been around as long as the DIY movement has.
Sorry man, my bros and I are at least partially in it for the wish fulfilment. We're not alone in this, and it's been around as long as I can remember playing the game.Not giving the players what they want.
Maybe it's something to do with procedural generation? There is an awful lot of that (and I'm a fan when it's judiciously applied!), but I feel like that's been around as long as the DIY movement has.
@squeen, you probably shouldn't make assumptions that @Pseudoephedrine is wrong until he clarifies the term. I note that 1e is pretty procedure heavy - a good example is the surprise/initiative/combat phase procedure, but also grappling, morale, combat positioning (flank, rear, etc.), disengaging from combat, running away, finding and hiring henchmen, overland travel rules, airborne travel rules, waterborne travel rules, etc., etc.I hadn't thought of that!
That fits---and is also barking up the wrong tree. That's not at the heart of the new/old difference.
It's appropriately gauged challenge defined by:
- Not being an idiot DM who tries to kill the party...but just a dangerous world that has the potential for lethality if not approached cautiously.
- Not giving the players what they want. No pandering to wish fulfillment. The opportunity exists for success, but you have to work for it, and it's almost never 100% complete or without caveats/cost. There is always something more, frustratingly out of reach.
- Putting in the hard work as DM to create a campaign world with many, many layers where just about anything is possible if you search long and hard enough, as well as dynamic enough it keeps the players generally on the back-foot and out of their comfort zone. The DM does not fabricate a a story, he/she just constructs an environment and moves around the scenery.
Good rule-sets support this. Bad edition rules almost always break #2. If your D&D game lacks the push-pull balance of the real world, it will not engage a human being for very long---we are too well made to fit this world and none other.
#3 is hard---there are no short-cuts, procedural or otherwise. Good DMs are like pro-athletes...few have the stamina and discipline to function at the required level. Anthony Huso comes to mind as a pro willing to put in the sweat so that his players have a great time and that the classic game "works".
I think that pretty much defines it.What does that mean? Well, it means that the rules you need to play Errant are simple to understand and minimal. At its core, the basic mechanic is to simply roll a twenty-sided die and try to get a result that’s in between two numbers (“roll high under” or “blackjack”) to resolve tasks.
However, Errant has a number of procedures that are designed to help you navigate different play situations in fair and interesting ways. Want to know how to run an exciting chase scene, or establish a fried cockatrice restaurant, or sue a demon for emotional negligence? Errant has procedures that can help you do that!
Procedures are not rules, but neither are they vague, general guidance. They provide a framework to structure the game, and can be adjusted, ignored, hacked, mangled, broken, stolen, or seasoned to taste.
You have no home.
You have no job.
You have no friends.
You have no family.
You have no prospects.
What you do have are a particular set of skills, the kind that make respectable folks avoid you, a handful of pennies, and a suitably blithe disregard for your own life.
Out there, beyond civilization, lies danger: monsters and magic and ancient ruins pregnant with treasure. Death is likely, but what did you have to live for anyway? At least out there is the chance to make something of yourself, and maybe even get back at those who wronged you.
Surely, this is no life for decent folk. But you’re not decent folk. You are an Errant.
Gus posted his take on it today. Marcia posted her take on it about a month ago. Their takes aren't identical, nor are they quite what Ava means when she describes Errant as "rules light, procedure heavy" but all three of them are expressing slightly different takes on a shared idea. That idea is that using what Beoric IMHO accurately describes as "a robust and flexible action resolution system" allows one to structure play in ways that give it a distinct feel.Could you remind me what proceduralism is?
The BrOSR is half 3/10 tedious joke, half serious, unfortunately. If you're familiar with Jeffro Johnson, he's effectively the leader of a group who are mostly active on Twitter. A brief summary of what they see as the pillars of "correct" play are available here. I find some of their ideas interesting, but the way they express them much less interesting.Also, some elaboration on the BrOSR/MachOSR both which sound satirical - Like the kind of epithet I would slap on some of the more regressive things I've seen written hereabouts - would be appreciated...