Posted by : David Guyll April 20, 2017

It hasn't been nearly long enough since the last time I read a post that seems to have been written by a hand-wringing, pearl-clutching, overly protective mom who thinks that elf-games are very serious business.

I guess it shakes things up by not being about female gamers and how they need, no, deserve special treatment at the table, making sure your table is somehow diverse enough to get a pass from perpetually offended virtue-signalers, or using the meaningless X-card.

So let's go through it bit-by-bit.

“Your sword is gone.”
“WHAT?!?! What do you mean??”
“It doesn’t exist anymore. You have no sword.”
“But that was my +5 family heirloom sword! It cost me 50,000 GP and we spent four months in real time on a side quest to get it!!”
“...and you put it in an annihilation portal trap. Tough.”
“Don’t I get a saving throw?!? Or something??”

Okay, I’ve got a few questions.

First, what’s an "annihilation portal trap"? I'm guessing you mean a sphere of annihilation, which is an actual thing in Dungeons & Dragons. I'm also guessing you mean the infamous green face thing from Tomb of Horrors, which I've heard players mistake for a kind of portal that goes somewhere, but just instantly kills anyone that goes inside, no save.

Second, and more importantly, are you or your players normally in the habit of experimenting with strange phenomena using rare/valuable items like top-tier magic swords? Before doing other "no duh" things like using detect magic to try and get even a rough idea as to what it might do? Before using cheap, easily replaceable dungeon gear that they really should have on hand?

Because I've played with some really stupid players, and when we actually ran across a modified sphere of annihilation—as opposed to an apocryphal anecdote in which an imaginary player loses their imaginary magic item to whatever an annihilation portal trap is, so someone can fail to make a point—we tried sticks, coins, rocks, even a leather pouch filled with coins (which revealed to us that it didn't affect metal and stone).

At no point did we risk very rare and valuable magic items. That said...

...is “family heirloom” some obscure or homebrewed 3rd Edition magic weapon quality (because you can't by default just go around buying +5 weapons in 2nd Edition)? If you’re referring to a +5 magical sword that is also a family heirloom, then...


...why did you have to spend 50,000 gp and four months “in real time” to buy a magical family heirloom?

WARNING! All of the mechanics I mention below are risky. This does not mean any of them are forbidden, nor even bad.

Warning: You’re about to contradict yourself a bunch of times!

Some of them are actually quite common.

No, they aren’t. Unless maybe if you only play certain editions of Dungeons & Dragons (namely 2nd and 3rd, maybe 1st).

They are risky in the sense that they threaten to take the fun out of the game for some players.

Only if you’re a whiny, entitled millennial that hates losing certain things. You also just said above that these "aren't even bad".

I wrote an article about some rewards that role-playing gamers want to get from their games, then another about some of the games that do a good job of providing these rewards. Now it’s time to talk about the games that will ruin your fun by taking these rewards away.

If by games you mean Marvel Super Heroes and certain editions of Dungeons & Dragons, because those are the only two games you mention in your blog post. Again, you just said they "aren't even bad".

Taking away or delaying game rewards means consequences for in-game actions start to affect the player as well as their character.

Aww, poor babies.

Players often invest a lot of time and effort to get their characters to a particular stage, and these mechanics tend to negate that time and effort.

Again, poor babies. Really, it only "negates" things if you only care about levels and loot, both of which you can get back by, well, continuing to play.

In the case of loot, you can actually get better loot by continuing to play. Or, do you guys still piss and moan about the loss of some random +1 weapon even after you find a +2 weapon?

To be fair, there is definitely an appropriate time to have your heirloom sword permanently removed, or for your character to die.

I'd ask when, but you'll eventually get around to saying that it's only appropriate when the players are completely on board with it. Like, yeah, you "can" destroy their weapon, but only when they sign their consent forms: can't be throwing any curve balls at your players, don't wanna trigger them!

Gamemasters and players often want to play a high-stakes game.

I agree, and many other actual gamers agree, but the way you tell it GMs and players only want "high stakes" when they're both expecting it and give the okay.

Before you decide to apply a mechanic that could potentially undo or complicate the real-life work that players have put into the game you should talk about the risks, and decide as a group if having high-tension drama is worth suffering player-affecting consequences.

I love how you describe playing a fucking game as "real-life" work. GMs put work into their adventures and campaigns: players show up and enjoy the ride. As the guy that runs almost every game I play in, it's great being able to just kick back and see what the GM has in store.

But, I'm curious, what do you do when you watch a movie/read a book/play a video game with a shitty ending? What do you do if you're playing a game, die, and gotta reload to do a part over (possibly even multiple times)? What about losing at a board game with a lengthy setup/play time? What do you do when you're doing anything, actually put in time and maybe effort, and that time is essentially wasted?

Have you written an article whining about how you shouldn't be able to lose at board and video games, unless you give consent first? Seriously asking.

I'm sooo glad I started gaming when I did. I can't imagine having little pre-game powwows where we talk about the imaginary consequences of a rust monster eating my sword, forcing me to, I dunno, tell the DM that I go back to town and buy another (or maybe make an improvised weapon if I can't). There goes five seconds of my life I'll never get back!

Frankly I'm surprised your article doesn't at the least encourage DMs to provide a safe space room stocked with fucking adult coloring books, bubbles, and puppies.

Finally, "player-affecting consequences" reminds me of Dark Dungeons. Like, you're concerned that players might cut or even kill themselves because they lost an imaginary sword.

I mention three joykill mechanics, but there are certainly more pit traps out there. If you think of any that I should have targeted, write them in the comments! I picked these three because they are typical of the worst reward-removing mechanics. Here is the list.

You really only mention two: the whole "bad karma" thing is just spending XP to do things by another name, though I'm sure anyone appreciates the oh so very topical inclusion of a game released in the mid 80's.

2. Dungeoneering Drain - Dungeons and Dragons
“The vampire succeeds on a touch attack. You lose two levels.”
“Noooo! I just got to level twelve! I really wanted to cast sixth-level spells!”
“While you’re standing there, lamenting your fate, the vampire touches you again.”
“Nooooooo!”

Has a DM actually ever done that? Hit you with a vampire, and while you’re going “fuck I maybe lost two levels if no one can automatically remove them via magic or I fail to save against them later”, they give the vampire another free turn?

Because that sounds like a dick DM: rules got nothing to do with that.

There are more than three joykills in the grandaddy of all role-playing games (see the opening vignette about a 2nd edition AD&D scenario)...

I love how you refer people to the paragraph they just read, but at least you clear it up that you’re talking about 2nd Edition (except when you aren’t since you mentioned a +5 sword that the players bought), in which case if the PCs are ambushed by a vampire completely out of nowhere, well, them’s the breaks. If you can't handle it, try running away.

Seriously: if you think that you're supposed to be able to just kill everything the GM throws at you, you're retarded.

It's been quite some time, but if the PCs know that a vampire might be about somewhere you've got garlic and/or protection from evil. Garlic has no duration, and the vampire cannot attack anyone wearing garlic. Protection from evil imposes an attack penalty and gives affected PCs a saving throw bonus in case the vampire tries to charm them. There's also the higher level protection circle that affects a much wider radius.

Also, negative plane protection is, what, a 3rd-level cleric spell? Yeah, it only works against one successful attack, and yeah you gotta make a successful save, but by the time clerics can cast 6th-level spells they succeed on death saves with a mere 6 or higher.

...though many of them have been ironed out in subsequent editions. Some of them persist.

Jesus christ...

In 3rd Edition restoration is a 4th-level cleric spell that removes all negative levels, and even if you failed the save you can still restore them as long as they weren’t lost more than one day ago per cleric level. So, you got some time. You've actually got nearly a few weeks for the cleric to get around to prepping restoration.

4th and 5th Edition don't even have negative levels, so if you want to play an easier D&D without houseruling or not using certain monsters for fear your players will get all butthurt and flee to their safe spaces to whine on Tumblr, you've got a few official options.

Try not to use them without warning the players.

Yep, because it totally won’t kill the suspense or tension to warn the players, “By the way there are vampires around”. I'm sure it'll be fun watching them buy garlic or prepare specific spells despite having no in-character reason for doing so.

Personally I prefer examining the environment, asking around, exploring, figuring it out for myself. In 2nd Edition I remember actually running into a wraith (not as part of some contrived scenario that fails to illustrate a point).

We beat the wraith, and I think one player lost a level from the fight, and a few rooms later in the dungeon we found a restoration scroll (among other things), which the cleric was able to use to fix it. The best part was that even before we found the scroll, the player didn't bitch and moan about the lost level: he took it like a man and kept playing.

But, hey, whatever works for you: be sure to post trigger warnings and hand out permission slips. Wait, why not just run the vampire encounter as-is, level drain and all, but when the characters are of course victorious ask them if they're cool with the lost levels. If not, just say the level drain magically goes away and no one loses anything.

Everyone wins, and the treasure haul can even include participation awards!

Rust Monsters: Given that new gear is one of the rewards that players who like Dungeons and Dragons crave, creating a monster whose sole purpose is to eat gear is risky.

How is “creating” the monster risky? What’s the actual risk to the creator? Do you mean that fighting a rust monster is risky because it can eat your gear if you somehow don't know what a rust monster is by now? Or do you mean it's risky to create a monster because you might end up having to deal with whiny entitled players who will bitch and quit the game over maybe losing some possibly difficult to replace gear?

Frankly that sounds great to me: lets me know which players not to play with!

I'm wondering if you know that in 2nd Edition, magic loot has a chance of being completely unaffected by a rust monster's touch, to the tune of 10% per plus, and in 3rd Edition you get to make a Reflex save to negate the effect. 4th Edition lets weapons and armor take I think up to five hits before rusting, but if it eats your magic shit you can harvest residuum from the corpse and just remake them all over again.

Whether gear is bought, found, or quested for, a rust monster can easily remove an irreplaceable reward from play.

Only if you're talking about metal loot, the players/characters somehow fail to realize what a rust monster is (in 3rd Edition a simple Dungeoneering check would at the least indicate its only infamous ability to rust things), and the rust monster happens to rust a coveted magic item first (as opposed to any other non-magical object, such as armor, a shield, the head of a metal arrow or spear, a rogue's dagger, etc).

Though, again, magic items have a chance/saving throw to avoid rusting.

I'm curious: do your games include exactly one of every magic item? Is there only one +1 sword gathering dust in some dungeon, or available for purchase (like that +5 family heirloom weapon)? I mean, assuming that's true I suppose you could still find a +2 or better weapon at some point, so why all the pissing and moaning?

Keep fucking adventuring until you find something better, and the next time you run into rust monsters throw some gold pieces at them and run the fuck away.

Experience Points for Effects: Just like with the bad Karma above, there are some mechanics in Dungeons and Dragons that require a player to spend the points they would normally use for character development to achieve certain effects (usually magical ones).

Oh, so now we’re over to 3rd Edition, because in 2nd Edition a wish ages you 5 years, and a limited wish ages you 1 year/100 years of your normal lifespan. Funny how you focus on XP costs, which can be easily recovered via adventuring, and not loss of years, which cannot be normally reversed!

This is done to maintain game balance; the effects that are bought with experience points are usually quite powerful. This is risky, though, because having a mage at 10th level when everyone else is at 12th can get tedious; character advancement is as rewarding as new gear, if not more.

How is it "risky" when the player has to deliberately choose to cast the spell/do the things that require XP expenditure?

Do you not know what risky means? There is no chance of danger or loss: there is a cost, and the player knows exactly what it is. You don't cast wish and maybe lose 5,000 XP. You don't scribe a 1st-level scroll and maybe spend 1 XP: you must spend that XP, and it's entirely up to you whether it's worth the cost.

Not that the game ever expects or forces you to do these things: every XP-charging thing in 3rd Edition (because it's just 3rd Edition D&D that charges you XP for doing very specific things) must be chosen by you, first. Well, except for Scribe Scroll: wizards get that for free.

Frankly, in 3rd Edition I virtually never bothered to spend XP to craft magic items (and when I did it was backup scrolls for very specific spells), because in long-term campaigns I just didn't think it was worth it. Other players did, and that's fine: even as teenagers they knew the costs, and never bitched about it after the fact.

Also, how is a 10th-level "mage" in a 12th-level party "tedious"?

Level Drain: THE WORST!! Again, in a high-stakes game, level-draining creatures (often powerful undead) are specifically designed to hit the player where it hurts the most - in the experience points!

Only if XP is the most important thing for you, which just goes to show how shallow of a player you are. You'd probably be more comfortable playing something like Diablo 3: you won't lose XP or gear when you die, and you can keep the game on Normal as long as you want, which will probably be forever because we can't have your character losing, now can we?

The game even has an Adventuring mode, so you don't have to trouble yourself with trivial things like NPCs and plot: just endlessly grind loot and levels for-fucking-ever!

Don’t pit yourselves against a vampire unless everyone is on board with the fact that they might lose a couple of levels before it’s all said and done… as if levels were the worst thing to lose.

How do you pit yourselves against a vampire? Do you tell the GM what you want to fight at a given time? Doesn't make any fucking sense at all, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised. Do you also tell the GM what you want the dungeon to look like, and what treasure you'll find?

Also, you just fucking said that “level-draining creatures are specifically designed to hit players where it hurts the most”. Make up your fucking mind: is XP the worst thing to lose or isn't it?

3. The Ultimate Joykill - Character Death
“I’m going to run across the rickety bridge that spans the chasm.”
“Okay, roll for it.”
“Natural one.”
“Oh. Ouch. Um, make a reflex save.”
“Uh… also one.”
“Oh. Uh, I guess you fall screaming to your death.”
“On the first day?”

If that was your character, and the above actually happened (not that I believe any of the scenario described here actually occurred), I guess sucks you had a dick DM making you roll to run across a rickety bridge that I guess didn't have ropes, or didn't tell you that it was so shaky and rickety and falling apart that running across could result in death. But, if the DM told you that and you tried it anyway that's your fault, and would be the definition of risky.

Now, if you're the DM that did all that shit, and if you didn't even warn the player that there was a good possibility he'd just fly off the bridge and die then you're an asshole and terrible DM.

But, really, am I supposed to feel bad that a character died right out of the gate? Roll up a new character and jump back in. If you're butthurt because you wrote up a super elaborate backstory about how you were going to save the world and now you can't do that, maybe don't write up super elaborate backstories before the first session, and don't assume that you're the main character and definitely a hero that CANNOT die except when you give the DM the go ahead.

Something that is nearly invisible because it is assumed in most games, character death is a joykill mechanic.

Only when you're a whiny, entitled shithead that thinks the game must revolve around your super special snowflake character with an elaborate backstory that MUST reach 20th-level and defeat the bad guy.

For normal gamers, character death can suck I guess, but you either get resurrected if you're high enough level (which in 3rd Edition doesn't even need to be that high), can get resurrected as part of a quest or something (we've done it before in 3E when really low level), or roll up another character and get back in the game.

That death and loss? That makes the times you survive and get new shit meaningful, because you know you can die and lose your shit.

When you stop acting like your character is the center of the (imaginary) universe, and must succeed at every quest and never lose anything unless you first give the go-ahead, the game is much more fun. Just roll up a character and see what the GM has in store for you.

I may be opening myself to criticism, but I think allowing character death to be determined by the random rolling of dice is risky, and leads to a million absurdities from a storytelling perspective.

Yeah: you sound like a whiny, entitled shithead that hates to “lose” in a game where coming back to life and finding new/better gear is a thing, as is rolling up a new character. You sound like all the other whiny entitled “gamers” that think that their super special character with a backstory should always win and never lose things.

Which, again, if you always want to win and never lose things that can be easily replaced by continuing to play the game, go play games that just let you win and never lose things (unless of course you give the GM permission).

What happens when your character’s goal was to deliver information vital to the success of a world-saving mission, and they get taken out by a couple of bandits who happened to roll really well?

This, right here. First, I want to point out that all of your imaginary scenarios have been fucking absurd: has a single character’s goal ever been to deliver vital world-saving information? Just the one character? For the entire world?

Sounds pretty retarded to entrust that to one character (and a low-level one at that), and then have them go through dangerous terrain. Sounds like the kind of thing you might want to have more than one person privy to. You could also provide the person with an escort, or have it delivered via a number of magical means.

But, anyway, a normal gamer would be like, “Oh shit I died, whelp I’ll roll up a new character, meet up with the rest of the group, and help deliver the world saving information.” If everyone trying to deliver the vital information died, then world-shaking shit happens and now we get to try and deal with that.

Sounds like a fucking blast to me.

Or maybe the world just ends and we start a new campaign. Point is, it's not fun getting dumped into a campaign where victory is a certainty. Why even bother playing? I'd much rather play a game where I can lose, so if I manage to succeed it's actually satisfying.

I applaud games like Mutants and Masterminds and Fate that deliberately remove character death from the mechanics.

No surprise that a whiny, entitled player loves games where you can’t maybe “lose” via dying. Doesn't water down your "victories" at all, no siree! Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for essentially showing up to the damn "game".

Characters can be ‘taken out:’ knocked out, captured, lost, or forgotten… but that just creates an interesting twist in the story.

Maybe you didn’t know this, but that can happen in any game, D&D included. In fact, I've run games where at the least the PCs get knocked out and awaken later in a prison and have to escape. Even better, since the players aren't expecting it, it's an actual twist, as opposed to an expectation.

Fate takes it a step further, and allows players to decide when character death would be appropriate, thereby allowing the players and the GM, in conversation, to decide when to raise the stakes.

Aww, just for death? What if I don’t think my character should fail a check, or get hurt at all? Why can’t my character just be super awesome and win at everything aaall the time?

It is essential to have conversations about when you are going to use high-stakes mechanics.

No, it’s not.

With all the special snowflake millenials whining about anything and everything I'm not surprised to see this brand of shit online, but people have been happily playing Dungeons & Dragons for over 40 fucking years without forcing their DMs to ask permission to include things that the game is famous (or infamous) for.

Of course, again, there are official editions that remove some of these threats: just play them instead of trying to convince people to neuter their DM so they can pretend that they're legitimately succeeding at, well, anything.

High-tension drama is vital to role-playing games, and these mechanics can provide that when appropriate.

Yes, they can...

Bust them out at the wrong time, though, and you will kill the fun for the players in your group.

...but not when you have to basically ask your group permission to use them. There is no tension when the GM tells you that there will be a vampire or rust monster in this game. There is no challenge when you know you can't die, or the GM has to spare your characters so you can just keep trying over and over until you invariably win.

Just go play a "game" where bad things happen only when you allow the GM to make bad things happen. Me? I'll keep playing games with actual surprises and risks: the victories and rewards are actually satisfying when the GM doesn't just hand them to me.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

{ 16 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Woah, lotta projection going on. You read one little blog post and you're gonna go full windmill-tilt at... I guess whatever mean ol' liberal strawman you imagine must have said it. Who's triggered now? I've been meaning to unfollow this blog for a while, so thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have to agree with the other comment, you seem to be tilting at millennial windmills. Lots of strawmen and "back in my day, everything was perfect!"s. That being said... I agree with the central premise of the post.

    I don't think it's "special snowflake bullshit" for someone to want to not lose levels, or have their character die, or lose a valuable magic item. What is bullshit, however, is their opinion that the default needs to be "no sharp edges anywhere," rather than the other way round. Like the X-Card, which could be replaced by just saying "I'd like it if we avoid X, Y, and Z," their post could be summed up by saying "ask your players if they want you to tone back the danger," instead of them going on a rant villainizing GMs who, well, haven't done anything ostensibly wrong.

    Fate, for example, is a really good game in part BECAUSE the player gets to choose when their character dies. It's a game about telling stories, and it does that well. But games like D&D are different; sure, it's no fun to die every second session (at least not to most people), but the rules are designed to keep it a possibility. That risk, that uncertainty, is what makes it fun.

    If they really want to avoid "wasting time" by losing progress (which doesn't make sense to me... virtually every form of entertainment out there has some level of risk, be it whether or not you win the videogame/sport you're playing or how the movie you're watching will end), they can go and play games like that. They exist for a reason! I've played and enjoyed them, and once again that's partly because the players get to decide where they want their stories to go.

    Players wanting to have an easier go of it, and being able to pull back from death when possible, isn't a problem. I'd wager most people wouldn't want that, anyway. What IS a problem, however, is the concept that anyone who doesn't want this is an abusive monster preying on their poor, defenseless players.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. _I have to agree with the other comment, you seem to be tilting at millennial windmills. Lots of strawmen and "back in my day, everything was perfect!"s. That being said... I agree with the central premise of the post._

      Where do I even imply that things were "perfect back in my day"?

      Anywho, far from it, what with nonsense mechanics and shit DMs. We mostly just sucked up the former and kept with pseudo-Vancian magic (though various DMs obviously houseruled some things, like letting wizards wear armor in 2E with a universal spell failure percentage); shitty DMs were harder to ignore, but that's something that could be fixed over time.

      "Back in my day" I might have avoided using certain monsters like cockatrices. Can't really remember. I don't remember most of my 2nd Edition days, actually, though I DO remember that wraith, my fighter barely surviving after inhaling a bunch of poisonous mold at 1st-level (did get a +1/+2 versus undead sword out of it, though), and also dying a half dozen times (one time from lowly goblins).

      In very early 3rd Edition I remember a guy playing a barbarian/sorcerer dying several times, one of which was keeping a pack of shadows at bay while the rest of the party fled across a bridge. He never complained, and even turned down the DM's offer to let him roll up another character that would only be one level behind the rest of us (as opposed to three, which was a pretty big deal back in 3E).

      _I don't think it's "special snowflake bullshit" for someone to want to not lose levels, or have their character die, or lose a valuable magic item._

      I don't either, at least by default. I can't think of any player that WANTS to lose these things. Where it gets special snowflakey is when they say that you can't or shouldn't without player persmission/unless it makes sense for "the story".

      _What is bullshit, however, is their opinion that the default needs to be "no sharp edges anywhere," rather than the other way round. Like the X-Card, which could be replaced by just saying "I'd like it if we avoid X, Y, and Z," their post could be summed up by saying "ask your players if they want you to tone back the danger," instead of them going on a rant villainizing GMs who, well, haven't done anything ostensibly wrong._

      That would have been a more constructive article: a list of things to avoid if your players want an easier time (though again I'd just run 4E or 5E, as they mostly avoid all of that without having to change the rules or just not use certain things). Not playing the game as is...so long as you get permission from the players on a case-by-case basis whether you're "allowed" to use certain things, or kill them, or whatever.

      Delete
    2. _Fate, for example, is a really good game in part BECAUSE the player gets to choose when their character dies._

      I disagree that choosing when your character dies makes it a good game. To me that just waters down the danger and tension.

      _It's a game about telling stories, and it does that well._

      I disagree, because the player getting to choose bad things that happen makes whatever story that crops up feel very artificial. Like, you didn't heroically sacrifice yourself to save the rest of the party because that's just how things went, your character died because you told the GM that it was okay but you could have lived and maybe something else bad would have happened, instead.

      _But games like D&D are different; sure, it's no fun to die every second session (at least not to most people), but the rules are designed to keep it a possibility. That risk, that uncertainty, is what makes it fun._

      I don't think it's "fun" to die at all, but as you say the risk and uncertain is what makes it fun. In FATE you can't die unless you say so, which waters down those moments when you survive because you really weren't in any danger in the first place.

      In D&D and games like D&D you don't GET to choose, so when there's a close call and you scrape by? That ACTUALLY matters, because you ACTUALLY could have died, so you ACTUALLY scraped by.

      _If they really want to avoid "wasting time" by losing progress (which doesn't make sense to me... virtually every form of entertainment out there has some level of risk, be it whether or not you win the videogame/sport you're playing or how the movie you're watching will end), they can go and play games like that._

      I don't really consider losing XP/stuff or dying losing progress, unless XP/stuff was the ONLY thing gained during that session. Like, in older PC/console RPGs where you might spend a bunch of time level grinding, and then you die or the power goes out before saving, so all that XP and stuff you got is just gone.

      In a tabletop RPG there's always been a bigger picture. You might lose your magic sword, but you find other loot, meet new NPCs, defeat the bad guy, and/or gain a level. If you die and get raised, you lose a point of Constitution or a level or maybe nothing at all (depends on what edition of D&D you're playing): maybe you died fighting a monster and the rest of the party managed to succeed. Maybe you died legitimately sacrificing yourself for the greater good. Maybe you died from falling into a pit trap filled with spikes and oozes, so you learn to check for traps more routinely.

      Delete
    3. Maybe you ALL died because the DM randomly rolled three cockatrices and everyone but the sleeping barbarian got turned to stone, and you could have rolled up another party and it would have been funny to keep doing the same adventure and have the new party find the terrified statues of the previous one, but it was 4am and everyone was tired, anyway.

      The above actually happened, by the by. It sounds terrible and doesn't make sense for "a story", but it's funny looking back on it and cemented the fact that when played properly, your victories and stories are legitimate. You don't "win" because the GM lets you or you make the GM let you: you win because of strategy, quick thinking, and/or luck.

      _Players wanting to have an easier go of it, and being able to pull back from death when possible, isn't a problem. I'd wager most people wouldn't want that, anyway. What IS a problem, however, is the concept that anyone who doesn't want this is an abusive monster preying on their poor, defenseless players._

      It's not JUST that (but that's definitely part of it): it's also not taking away magic loot and making them fight things like vampires without the permission of the players. Like, how does that go? The group shows up and the GM says, "Hey guys do you want to fight a vampire tonight?"

      The group says sure, and before they go and fight the vampire they load up on garlic and prep whatever magic will be most effective, even if they weren't aware they would be fighting a vampire in the first place? Do they pretend they don't know there's a vampire?

      In any case, sounds fucking terrible.

      Delete
  3. This is really poorly written all things considered. You don't aid your argument when you use slurs and insult particular groups of people to make your point. I usually enjoy this kind of discourse between "easy" and "difficult" dnd games, but this is just hard to get through. Take a step back and try to see your audience & players with some compassion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I usually enjoy this kind of discourse between "easy" and "difficult" dnd games, but this is just hard to get through."

      Playing "easy" and "difficult" D&D is one thing. Getting permission from your players to do certain things, and lying about the "risks" of players having to deliberately choose and using XP-draining things is another.

      "Take a step back and try to see your audience & players with some compassion."

      No clue what compassion has to do with this, but I'm very curious: do you think my players are somehow suffering?

      Delete
  4. did I just read whiny entitled old guy bitching about whiny entitled millennials?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope. Get your eyes checked, old man.

      Delete
  5. Wow.. for whining about triggering as much as you do in this post, you sound awfully triggered. It's all well and good to disagree with somebody's play style, and I can certainly see your point, but did it really merit how insulting you were? And, frankly, if that's how rude and mean you are to someone who simply plays the game different than you do, I can't even imagine how terrible you must be to your players! You gotta lighten up and remember that we all come to the gaming table to have fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "And, frankly, if that's how rude and mean you are to someone who simply plays the game different than you do, I can't even imagine how terrible you must be to your players!"

      Oh yeah, really rake my players over the coals. Just fucking terrible. They must LOVE punishment though because they keep coming back.

      "You gotta lighten up and remember that we all come to the gaming table to have fun."

      Yep. Apparently "fun" is getting the equivalent of a participation award. :-P

      Delete
  6. Back in 1983, I was running a regular game in Denver. All of the players had been with me for a while and the squad had become pretty powerful, so much that they thought they were invincible. I don't remember what the encounter was, but it was something they - even then - couldn't handle, and I did several in-game in-character type warnings, letting them know that they were, if they chose to go forward, going into a very dangerous situation.

    They went, anyway, and one of the characters died. Just one, but it was the guy's first ever character. He failed all attempts at a resurrection, and I finally had to pronounce the character really dead, dead-dead. The player refused to accept it. Not only would he not roll up another character, he threatened to commit suicide. I spent a fair amount of time going over the process with him, explaining what had happened and why, explaining that this was just a game and, no matter how much a player loved a character, things can always happen, etc. None of it mattered to him. He was intense.

    The other players talked him out of suicide but, for a long time, he would try every ooc and ic method to get that character back that he could imagine. Maybe I should have just given it back to him but I felt like that would have taught my players they could manipulate me, and taught him that whining his way through life would always work.

    I have since learned more techniques to handle obsessed players, and the group I have now is much more experienced, more able to handle setbacks and disappointments. But, then, I had only been DMing for 3 years and a lot was still new to me.

    I only point out that that guy was not a millennial. He may have been privileged - didn't know him well enough to say. He was fairly young, very early 20s. But, generation names don't matter, and you really can't generalize the people within the media-suggested name for a cohort-group. I've known lots of people of many ages who've played with me. It's a matter of individual personality, and all generations and genders have some who act entitled.

    Once you start assigning blame to one gender or one age-group, you begin to look at life through that lens. It's a mistake. If you're doing that, you need to widen your perspective, and maybe your group of acquaintances.

    As far as gaming, though, if you can't lose a character or a beloved item, then you don't value what you earn as much. It is like life - we value most the things and people we might lose.

    For fairness's sake, I should tell you that I had some trouble following your blogpost, which parts were you and which were someone else. If I got it wrong, just ignore me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The other players talked him out of suicide but, for a long time, he would try every ooc and ic method to get that character back that he could imagine. Maybe I should have just given it back to him but I felt like that would have taught my players they could manipulate me, and taught him that whining his way through life would always work."

      That's good they were able to talk him out of it. I don't know the whole situation, but I'd be inclined to agree that, yeah, caving into the whining would reinforce behavior that he should whine to get his way (like dealing with a child).

      "I have since learned more techniques to handle obsessed players, and the group I have now is much more experienced, more able to handle setbacks and disappointments. But, then, I had only been DMing for 3 years and a lot was still new to me."

      I guess I feel lucky that I only had to deal with dickhead players (some would bring real life drama into the game, pick on other players with bs "in-character" justifications, and several blatantly cheated on dice rolls/tried to "reserve" natural 20 rolls for later): never knew anyone that tried to kill themselves over a lost character (or item).

      "I only point out that that guy was not a millennial. He may have been privileged - didn't know him well enough to say. He was fairly young, very early 20s. But, generation names don't matter, and you really can't generalize the people within the media-suggested name for a cohort-group. I've known lots of people of many ages who've played with me. It's a matter of individual personality, and all generations and genders have some who act entitled."

      To be absolutely clear when I say "whiny, entitled millennial", I mean a millennial that is ALSO whiny and entitled, because I don't think ALL millennials think they're special snowflakes and whine all the time (and I didn't even say that in the article above).

      Technically *I* am part of the millennial generation, and I know plenty of people that are ALSO part of the millennial generation that aren't whiny snowflakes. I just see a lot of them pissing and moaning about stupid shit, which is why I said that I'm not surprised that someone would write an article about how you need to get permission from your group to do "bad" things.

      So, if you (and not just you Calandreya, but anyone) are a millennial reading this and think that I think you're whiny and entitled just for being a millennial, I don't. At least not by default.

      "As far as gaming, though, if you can't lose a character or a beloved item, then you don't value what you earn as much. It is like life - we value most the things and people we might lose."

      Precisely.

      "For fairness's sake, I should tell you that I had some trouble following your blogpost, which parts were you and which were someone else. If I got it wrong, just ignore me."

      The bolded stuff is from the other article. Maybe I should comb through it and be sure I bolded it, because I might have overlooked something?

      Delete
  7. No, I think it's just a problem with my eyes. I've been having trouble reading everything lately. Kansas is in its burning season and that affects the air quality in Omaha, so my eyes have been feeling sticky and stinging for a couple of weeks now.

    I'm glad you're not generalizing on an age. My son is 35, daughter is 25, and we play with kids under ten and adults older than me (55). And, while I've had every kind of gamer in the 36 years I've been DMing, age was never what decided whether they cheated, or meta-gamed, or intentionally caused trouble.

    Even though the suicidal gamer reminded me of the student who gave D&D its original bad press, people just didn't take threats like that as seriously back then. Now, I realize how incredibly naive that was, and would definitely seek professional help for someone wanting to commit suicide over a game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "No, I think it's just a problem with my eyes. I've been having trouble reading everything lately. Kansas is in its burning season and that affects the air quality in Omaha, so my eyes have been feeling sticky and stinging for a couple of weeks now."

      We live out on a farm, and it gets very windy and dusty (especially when tilling) that I routinely use a certain kind of eye drop (Optacon?), because otherwise my eyes can get so irritated that the whites look yellow or orange.

      "I'm glad you're not generalizing on an age. My son is 35, daughter is 25, and we play with kids under ten and adults older than me (55). And, while I've had every kind of gamer in the 36 years I've been DMing, age was never what decided whether they cheated, or meta-gamed, or intentionally caused trouble."

      Initially my thought was "well wouldn't younger people be more prone to get upset or want to cheat or whatever", but then I thought about one player in particular who I gamed with since my teens and up til my early twenties: he'd constantly roll the dice, often obstructed by something like a soda can, quickly scoop it up, and declare it was a natural 20.

      So, yeah, guess I can agree to that!

      "Even though the suicidal gamer reminded me of the student who gave D&D its original bad press, people just didn't take threats like that as seriously back then. Now, I realize how incredibly naive that was, and would definitely seek professional help for someone wanting to commit suicide over a game."

      Good! Like I said (or I guess more implied above), I haven't had to deal with a suicidal player (or a suicidal person in general), but nowadays I've seen enough stories online of people actually killing themselves that I'd the least seek professional advice.

      Here's hoping that it won't come to that (and hopefully you won't have to go through that, again).

      Delete

Followers

Recent Comments

Popular Post

Blog Archive

- Copyright © Points of Light -Metrominimalist- Powered by Blogger - Designed by Johanes Djogan -