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Mr. Mask
2014-07-21, 02:18 PM
Most RPGs include Traits and Flaws you can take to improve or demerit your character. For some people, I expect this helps them to work out a character concept and makes it easier to roleplay. For others, I can see that it would be easy to forget character concepts and instead work on making the nicest build you can, even if you aren't interested in roleplaying certain traits or they don't fit into your character as well as you thought.

I'm wondering how traits and drawbacks effect people's roleplaying experience ,for god or bad, and whether there are better ways of arranging it. Maybe a system where you're encouraged to not take too many drawbacks or traits to start with, but are encouraged to take more as you play (to help you work out what suits your character). Of course, you'd want options for players who know their characters inside and out before they create them.

Segev
2014-07-21, 02:20 PM
They're largely neutral. They can help flesh out a character or tweak a build to match a concept, but they also can be nothing but "a variety of low-impact flaws to maximize [one's] character points."

They're added complexity, but also added options. It's really a matter of whether you think they're well-balanced for what they do within the game context and whether you need the extra customizability for your character versus your tolerance for said complexity.

Dawgmoah
2014-07-21, 02:25 PM
I agree with Segev; I have seen them help and other times hinder roleplaying. Just like alignments when players think every action they take must adhere to their alignment. A good roleplayer will weave the traits/flaws into their character while oftimes a not so good roleplayer will fixate on them. It's a mixed bag and results will vary. Give them a try with your group and see what happens.

ElenionAncalima
2014-07-21, 02:43 PM
I think they have the potential to be a roleplaying boon, but there is also potential for abuse.

Of all aspect of character creation, traits are where I am mostly likely not to approve choices. Usually, I don't like telling characters they can't use something, unless it was made very clear upfront. However, I won't approve character traits that don't make sense. For instance, in a Pathfinder Game, I have a player with Dex 7 try to take Elven Reflexes. Usually, I wouldn't care, but for traits that was a no, no. I think of traits as being part of who the character is, as opposed to how they have trained...and fast reflexes was obviously not who he was.

Airk
2014-07-21, 02:56 PM
I don't tend to like "Flaws" because they tend to come paired with "Advantages" and it usually comes down to a game of "Mechanical advantages balanced by 'roleplaying' flaws." ("So my guy is colorblind and bad at math, which gives me enough points for 'steady hand' for +2 on all my gun tests!")

TRAITS, on the other hand, can be a very different animal and can be good for RP - Mouse Guard handles this very nicely, for example, by allowing players to both gain a bonus from their trait occasionally AND also gain a different kind of "deferred" bonus for taking actual harm from their trait. I think this is key - a good trait system doesn't make them "advantages" or "disadvantages" but rather something that is both good AND bad. That fuels roleplaying. Though it also helps that you don't get any bonuses (or penalties) for taking or not taking traits.

Mr. Mask
2014-07-21, 03:32 PM
Segev: This is true. No matter the system, you can't force a horse to drink.


Elenion: I agree. With the example you give, that's one place where you can thankfully get around that through balance. Let's say elven reflexes effectively works like a +1 Dex bonus. You just need to make it cheaper, or of equal cost to buy points in Dex to get the same effect.

Or, if Elven Reflexes gives a separate bonus, say, a bonus to Initiative, then it's an interesting ability that might even work for a low Dex character (like an obese coward who is quick to notice trouble and react to it, but otherwise slow).
Sadly, there are likely many kinds of traits which are difficult to balance. Drawbacks, specially those which never come up in the game and were just taken for points (I think some RPGs have a good solution, where you instead get some points every time your drawback causes you trouble).


Airk: Admittedly, the same is true for character creation in general. "I want to make a knight! A charismatic, well-read, virtuous and skilful warrior.... but instead, I only had enough points to make an awkward spoken character with only 1 point in a lore skill (since I had to spend skill points on riding), a mediocre fighter, and an alcoholic and craven because I needed more points to get this much!" It's one of the problems of min-maxing, and the fact challenge in games tends to be set at the level where less than a min-maxer is not par for the course.

Burning Wheel, that was the one that offered points for doing what your traits said.

Tengu_temp
2014-07-21, 03:33 PM
I like flaws the way nWoD handles them; you get bonus points if the flaw becomes relevant in the game, not during character creation. This way they help with roleplay with no risk of being a min-maxer's pool of free feats like they are in DND.

Airk
2014-07-21, 04:14 PM
Segev: This is true. No matter the system, you can't force a horse to drink.

Well, you can't FORCE them, but you CAN explicitly make it the point of the game. If you want the XP-equivalent in Tenra Bansho Zero, you HAVE to RP. It doesn't come from anywhere else. That's some pretty strong leverage there.



Airk: Admittedly, the same is true for character creation in general. "I want to make a knight! A charismatic, well-read, virtuous and skilful warrior.... but instead, I only had enough points to make an awkward spoken character with only 1 point in a lore skill (since I had to spend skill points on riding), a mediocre fighter, and an alcoholic and craven because I needed more points to get this much!" It's one of the problems of min-maxing, and the fact challenge in games tends to be set at the level where less than a min-maxer is not par for the course.

This is sortof a different problem though - that's just a badly designed chargen process in general. Or rather, a chargen process that does a poor job of producing the types of characters people think the game is supposed to be about. (So there's either a flaw in the chargen, or a flaw in the 'fluff' that makes people think the game is supposed to be about heroic knights when actually it's about loser peasants.)



Burning Wheel, that was the one that offered points for doing what your traits said.

Yeah; Mouse Guard is basically the Burning Wheel system with a lot of complexity filed off, but the basis for how traits work is...similar.

Mr. Mask
2014-07-21, 05:01 PM
True. Running the horse a few minutes through the desert can get some results.

Well, traits and drawbacks work into bad balance, the way I see it. BW's system of drawbacks only giving you points when they hurt you seems a fairly decent handling of them.

There's also the problem of if two players see the game differently. If one wants to play a loser peasant and the other wants to play a heroic knight, most systems don't offer a mechanical solution for that.

As mentioned, the fact many games are balanced around min-maxed characters for combat/social/stealth encounters makes it difficult to have more rounded characters. Often I fish for drawbacks which fit my character or can add to them, on the basis that while I want to be competitive (have adequate combat stats), I'd also like to dabble in other skills.

Jay R
2014-07-21, 06:59 PM
Of all the games I've played, they work best in Champions.

My Psych Limitations are almost always simply how I intend to play the character - Code vs. Killing, Silver Age Code, plus any personal quirks that fit the specific character. Mostly they serve as a combination of points gained for planning out the character, plus a reminder to stay in character.

DNPCs (dependent non-player characters) are perfect comic book disadvantages. The villains are far more likely to threaten Pepper Potts or Lois Lane than anyone else. The player doens't have to remember these - the GM does. As a GM, I compile a list of everybody's DNPCs to find ones for my plots.

Vulnerabilities, Susceptibilities, and Hunteds are excellent comic book material.

These work much better in a comic book game than any I've seen in a fantasy game.

Raimun
2014-07-21, 07:30 PM
I think advantage/disadvantage-system is always a good thing.

That means both can be represented in-game because there are mechanics for them.

By the way, I don't get why people always complain about disadvantages that see little to no use during a game. Guess what? Advantages (and any positive qualities, really) can also see little to no use in a game. Especially if you pick stuff for flavor. Of course, it's not okay to pick disadvantages that get negated by advantages but disadvantages that apply rarely should be okay.

Pretty much all of my characters, ever, have had advantages that I never found any use for during games and do you hear me complaining about that? If the GM can't find any way, ever to make a disadvantage relevant in his game, it shouldn't be a problem either.

Mr. Mask
2014-07-21, 09:47 PM
This makes me think more powerful advantages that cost points to use might be a good idea.

Slipperychicken
2014-07-22, 12:27 AM
I find the flaws which my group and I enjoy typically aren't the ones I select from a menu to make my character better at murdering people, but ones which were inherent to the character concept.


I also find that I have a great deal more fun when I can generate an entire character concept without considering rules-mechanics (other concerns are considered however, like how the character can interact with other PCs and NPCs). Then, only once the fluff is done and written down, I build a statblock to fit the character (representing as many aspects as I can, like flaws, skills, abilities, etc), instead of writing a backstory after the statblock is done. It feels so much more natural and elegant that it almost seems as if this is the "right" way to build characters for RPGs.

Knaight
2014-07-22, 12:34 AM
I generally find them helpful, provided that they are designed to accumulate points through use, rather than as a one time sum (basically what Tengu Temp said, though I associate it with different games). The lump sum approach encourages finding negligible flaws that don't really come up, whereas the points through use one encourages flaws that are actually relevant. Provided that relevant flaws are there, it can be pretty helpful.

Lanaya
2014-07-22, 01:01 AM
M&M 3rd edition is the only game I've ever played that does flaws well. You get no bonus at all during character creation for choosing a flaw and may take as many as you like. Whenever a flaw crops up in play in such a way that gives you a substantial disadvantage, you get a bonus hero point which you can spend in that session to get temporarily better at stuff. There's no min/maxing aspect, as the rewards are given out by the GM if and only if the flaw actually hurts you, and you're encouraged to pick flaws that actually affect your character because otherwise you get no reward for them. Or if you don't like flaws you can basically ignore them without being any better or worse off than your fellow players.

BWR
2014-07-22, 01:32 AM
I like them, in general. Mechanical advantage is one thing but if done correctly, Advantages and Disadvantages, call them what you will, can really help make your character unique and promote good roleplaying. Ars Magica, for instance, has a category of A&Ds called Story. Story A&Ds basically mean your character is a magnet for certain types of people and events that make your life interesting, for better or worse. They don't really necessarily have any mechnical effect beyond this but Story A&Ds are basically giving your GM free pass to mess with your character in certain ways.

Badly designed A&Ds will be unbalanced in how they work. If Ds only give vague RP penalties and As give serious mechanical bonuses, then the system is unbalanced. A&Ds should, in general, give mechanical effects. If you have a D called "Brash", let us say, and its effect is that you tend to answer any sort of insult with violence. A bad design would be leaving it at that. Yes, it's a roleplaying D and players are expected to RP, but good players are seldom a problem even with bad systems, and bad players will downplay or ignore the effects to suit their purposes. If Brash instead requires some sort of roll to avoid using violence when insulted, it's a better designed D because now it has a mechanical effect that's hard to ignore.

The Insanity
2014-08-17, 09:10 AM
If someone doesn't want to roleplay, nothing will help them.
Like most mechanics, traits and flaws help, because they give you something you can base your roleplay on.

JusticeZero
2014-08-17, 09:32 AM
I have a player with Dex 7 try to take Elven Reflexes. Usually, I wouldn't care, but for traits that was a no, no. I think of traits as being part of who the character is, as opposed to how they have trained...and fast reflexes was obviously not who he was.
I'd have allowed that, since it seems like a valid way of saying "My reflexes are lousy, but at least they aren't *slow* too." It's pretty much saying "I move passably fast, i'm just clumsy".
According to the SRD, Elven Reflexes (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/traits/race-traits/elven-reflexes-half-elf) is basically half of an Improved Initiative feat (+2 instead of +4), for those who were unsure.

I don't care for flaws much, since they usually either go unused or overused, and they aren't much help in rp.

Frozen_Feet
2014-08-17, 09:51 AM
Traits and flaws only help roleplaying if they're designed to do that. The easiest way to do that is to reward *the player* for following the tenets they place on their character sheet. Basically: "you played a convincing drunkard. Well done! Here's a cookie." Except instead of cookies, most RPGs sadly use character resources, experience points or other in-game awards.

D&D style traits with clear mechanical effects have at best indirect effect on roleplaying. They exist to ensure a character mechanically works in-game as they are described by the player: ie., ensure a slow character actually is slow etc. However, this doesn't guarantee player immersion, or even player noticing these effects. Let's take Murky-Eyed from d20 SRD. Sure, across many attempts of trying to hit a concealed target, a character with the flaw will perform notably worse, but aside those situations the player may well forget there's anything wrong with his character's vision, because it's not immediately obvious to them (because the player doesn't actually see through the character's eyes).

Min-maxing players naturally strive towards situations where their mechanical disadvantages don't matter. Sure, this counts as "roleplaying" in the sense that most people don't like to do what they're bad at, but it also ensure the flaws will almost never come up during play on the player's iniative. By contrast, advantages will be relevant a disproportionate amount of gametime. Ie., everyone will notice the strong guy with bad eyes is strong, but almost completely forget the bad eyes.

NichG
2014-08-17, 11:03 AM
I'm a fan of flaw systems that make the players want to take more flaws for their own sake (combined with a limit to the number of flaws you can have). For example, 7th Sea has Backgrounds that you have to purchase with XP, which cap out at 5 points, and which generally correspond to things that try to screw over your character. Why would you want such a thing? Well, every time your Background comes up, you get XP, and every 3 games that your background doesn't come up you gain even more XP (to encourage the DM to make sure that your background does come up regularly).

I also prefer advantages/flaws which really have major impacts on the gameplay. Things like '-1 to X' or '+1 to Y' aren't really all that interesting and I don't think they add much aside from a bit of an opportunity to tweak the numbers even higher/lower. On the other hand, flaws like 'you are immune to the effects of magic, for better and for worse' or 'you are bound to a cursed item which drains away a fifth of your xp gain; however, this xp gain enables the item to grow in power as you do' or 'a powerful being imprisoned outside of existence can use your presence to make small things happen - it will use the influence you provide to leave a trail of breadcrumbs in the form of interesting items or knowledge for you to find, though this will gradually create the path for its return' are transformative to both story and gameplay, and provide their own specific advantages so there's no need to have some sort of point-based tradeoff between the two. They're sort of package deals.

Mark Hall
2014-08-17, 11:14 AM
There's also the HM way... quirks and flaws add character resources for creation, but failure to play them costs Honor as play goes on... and Honor is the metagame mechanic, giving +1s and rerolls in play, or being spent to purchase the same. Also, cherry-picking your Q&Fs is worth less than random rolling (i.e. you can't pick a few favorite, easy to play flaws), and the more you have, the less each subsequent one is worth. So you can't load up on easy flaws and run rampant through character creation... and failing to play the ones you have can screw you long term.

Yora
2014-08-17, 11:37 AM
I prefer it when players approach the game as a narrative, not a mathmatical problem where you need to solve for x. I want them to not think about numbers, the numbers are simply a tool, not the game.
Traits and flaws are a mechanic to increase the precision of the numbers representing the character. And they have the side effect of drawing the players attention to the numbers. Ability scores and class is about as much precision in representing character concepts as numbers as I want to have. I think even feats and skill ranks are already taking it too far. Traits and flaws are something that I never use. Players can simply say that their character is brave or cowardly and play accordingly. There's no need to have a +1 in one very specific situation, or a -1 in another.

AMFV
2014-08-17, 12:59 PM
I prefer it when players approach the game as a narrative, not a mathmatical problem where you need to solve for x. I want them to not think about numbers, the numbers are simply a tool, not the game.
Traits and flaws are a mechanic to increase the precision of the numbers representing the character. And they have the side effect of drawing the players attention to the numbers. Ability scores and class is about as much precision in representing character concepts as numbers as I want to have. I think even feats and skill ranks are already taking it too far. Traits and flaws are something that I never use. Players can simply say that their character is brave or cowardly and play accordingly. There's no need to have a +1 in one very specific situation, or a -1 in another.

But do you see how having the numbers reflect that might help certain people with immersion. I know that thinking about avoiding a situation in which I am at a disadvantage helps to me roleplay a character that wouldn't want to be placed in that situation, perhaps more so than simply thinking "My character is cowardly", that may be a flaw in my thinking but in experience even bonuses that are functionally so small as to be irrelevant can trigger this sort of thinking. I'm sure there's a psychological reason for it.

jedipotter
2014-08-17, 08:03 PM
I'm wondering how traits and drawbacks effect people's roleplaying experience ,for god or bad, and whether there are better ways of arranging it.

I'm not a fan, in general, of the idea that you need to have mechanics to role play. And I see a lot of players get so caught up in the mechanics that they don't role play. Though traits and drawbacks are often of limited effect. If you get a ''-1'' while in the dark, that is so pointless you might as well forget it.

NichG
2014-08-17, 11:27 PM
I think the problem is that numbers in particular are not very evocative, because there are so many equivalences.

Lets say I have a character with a +8 to hit on ranged attacks. There are tons of ways I can construct that:

- Lv5 Fighter with a +3 Dex modifier
- Lv7 Fighter with a +3 Dex modifier and the Shaky flaw.
- Lv5 Fighter with a +0 Dex modifier because of Pathetic(Dex) and a base 10 Dex but a +2 Dex magic item, combined with a +3 ranged weapon.
- Lv5 Fighter with a +0 Dex modifier with a masterwork weapon, firing from an elevated position for a +2 circumstance bonus.
- Lv16 Wizard with a +0 Dex modifier

The end result 'I have a +8 to hit on ranged attacks' loses the ability to capture anything at all about the reason why the number is +8. So when you apply a lot of traits/effects/etc to produce a single number, whatever those things are lose their distinctiveness.

There are alternatives. Imagine if Shaky gave a 20% miss chance on all ranged attacks. There are very few things that contribute an innate miss chance on an attack mode, so the origin of that mechanical effect would remain distinctive whenever it came up. In that case, you can say clearly 'I missed because of Shaky'. On the other hand, with the to-hit modifier case its hard to trace back the consequences to a particular origin point (you could as well say 'I missed because of Shaky' or 'I missed because my bow is just masterwork' or 'I missed because I'm Lv5' or 'I missed because I didn't take Weapon Focus', and all of those are equally valid explanations).

So I think mechanical things can help with characterization, but things that participate in aggregate/derived quantities do so very poorly because they serve to confuse the origins of the results.

BWR
2014-08-18, 04:23 AM
Flaws can help if the player is inclined to roleplaying in the first place. Getting some sort of recompense for intentionally limiting yourself is nice, and for many of us they work as a reminder that the character is limited in some fashion.
If players are only interested in mechanical advantage flaws will be ignored, forgotten or played poorly to minimal effect.

Some flaws are better than others. Ars Magica has Story flaws: for some reason, certain types of complications occur around you - perhaps faeries think it's fun to play pranks on you, perhaps the wrong people fall in love with you and cause all sorts of trouble, perhaps you just look suspicious enough that you get blamed for everything that goes wrong. More material for games, plenty of personal situations for the PC to react to

Airk
2014-08-18, 09:14 AM
There's also the HM way... quirks and flaws add character resources for creation, but failure to play them costs Honor as play goes on... and Honor is the metagame mechanic, giving +1s and rerolls in play, or being spent to purchase the same.

This sounds super awkward; How does it work? What if no opportunity to play a flaw came up in a given session? Do you get penalized because you took "Socially awkward" and then spent a week in the wilderness because that's where the game went? Do you wave your hand and say "No! I can't go on that wilderness jaunt! If I do, I'll get penalized for not having anyone to be socially awkward around!" (Yes, this is a crap example that could be avoided by building a smarter 'flaw', but I don't think it's possible for all flaws to be applicable in all situations.) It just seems so much cleaner to do rewards for presence rather than penalties for absence.

Segev
2014-08-18, 09:20 AM
I am inclined to agree. In D&D, without flaws, it can be frustrating, at best, to decide to play, say, "the blind master." Even leaving aside the strained credulity of a character past a certain level and amount of wealth not simply buying a Remove Blindness spell from a cleric (or getting it from his party cleric), the blind character is at serious disadvantages. This may be realistic, but it is similar to if a player were to say, "You know, I want to play a Warblade, but I think I'll forgo the Maneuvers and just use Stances."

In D&D 3e, the fact that playing one class over another can be just as badly weakening your character is an unintended flaw in the system; in theory, characters are meant to be roughly on par with each other for having spent the same amount of character-building resources.

Flaws can allow you to play "the blind master" and get an extra advantage elsewhere to make up for it.

Of course, D&D can handle this (though rarely does) with existing tools: A feat or PrC, for example, which required you to be blind to take it, could be designed to specifically address the archetypal traits of your blind character's advantages.

Jay R
2014-08-18, 09:47 AM
The ideal traits and flaws are ones that the player was already planning to play. A cautious player should take some variant of cowardice of caution. Someone who tends to jump into melees immediately should take some version of impetuosity or impatience. If you're going to try to get more than your share of the treasure anyway, take Greediness.

The worst flaws and traits are the ones taken just to get free points, and chosen to be unlikely to come up in play.

Airk
2014-08-18, 10:20 AM
The ideal traits and flaws are ones that the player was already planning to play. A cautious player should take some variant of cowardice of caution. Someone who tends to jump into melees immediately should take some version of impetuosity or impatience. If you're going to try to get more than your share of the treasure anyway, take Greediness.

The worst flaws and traits are the ones taken just to get free points, and chosen to be unlikely to come up in play.

I have trouble reconciling these two ideas. If you're basically getting points for doing something you were going to do all the time anyway (A greedy player taking the "greedy" flaw), how is that different from getting points for not doing something you weren't going to do anyway?

Jay R
2014-08-18, 11:08 AM
I have trouble reconciling these two ideas. If you're basically getting points for doing something you were going to do all the time anyway (A greedy player taking the "greedy" flaw), how is that different from getting points for not doing something you weren't going to do anyway?

A greedy player who takes the "greedy" flaw always roleplays it, and never argues with the DM about applying it. A greedy character who takes the "overly-generous" trait invents unconvincing justifications for not roleplaying it, and often argues with the DM about applying it.

Mark Hall
2014-08-18, 11:27 AM
This sounds super awkward; How does it work? What if no opportunity to play a flaw came up in a given session? Do you get penalized because you took "Socially awkward" and then spent a week in the wilderness because that's where the game went? Do you wave your hand and say "No! I can't go on that wilderness jaunt! If I do, I'll get penalized for not having anyone to be socially awkward around!" (Yes, this is a crap example that could be avoided by building a smarter 'flaw', but I don't think it's possible for all flaws to be applicable in all situations.) It just seems so much cleaner to do rewards for presence rather than penalties for absence.

It's a matter of playing them when they come up.

For example, last game, my character had "Pocking". At some point before becoming a Journeyman (a priest of the god of Travelers; that priesthood happens to be immune to disease), he had some sort of disease which gave him pockmarks all over his face. That directly impacted his Looks attribute, but doesn't really need to be played out; it is also, not surprisingly, not a terribly valuable flaw.

Another character (a female dwarf fighter) had Death Wish. For her, that meant not being the first to fall back, throwing herself into fights, and so on. If we spent the entire time talking to the Earl, then she obviously didn't need to do much to act out her death wish... but she was first in line to fight the priests.

The absence of the flaw, as it regards honor, is notable when the flaw would be appropriate. You might not be very socially awkward surrounded by people you trust with your life. But if you come across an old witch/herbwoman in the woods and turn garroulous and chatty, you're going to run into trouble.

Airk
2014-08-18, 11:34 AM
It's a matter of playing them when they come up.

For example, last game, my character had "Pocking". At some point before becoming a Journeyman (a priest of the god of Travelers; that priesthood happens to be immune to disease), he had some sort of disease which gave him pockmarks all over his face. That directly impacted his Looks attribute, but doesn't really need to be played out; it is also, not surprisingly, not a terribly valuable flaw.

This seems like an irrelevant example because it gives a hard mechanical penalty and that's that. It's like taking a flaw that gives you -3 hitpoints.



Another character (a female dwarf fighter) had Death Wish. For her, that meant not being the first to fall back, throwing herself into fights, and so on. If we spent the entire time talking to the Earl, then she obviously didn't need to do much to act out her death wish... but she was first in line to fight the priests.

The absence of the flaw, as it regards honor, is notable when the flaw would be appropriate. You might not be very socially awkward surrounded by people you trust with your life. But if you come across an old witch/herbwoman in the woods and turn garroulous and chatty, you're going to run into trouble.

So, basically there's no actual rule here, but rather, the DM penalizes you when he feels like you didn't do something when he felt like you should have? Pardon me for feeling like that's way too squishy.

Mark Hall
2014-08-18, 12:27 PM
Ok, now I've gotten up to get my books.


This seems like an irrelevant example because it gives a hard mechanical penalty and that's that. It's like taking a flaw that gives you -3 hitpoints.

Not all of the flaws are squishy; some are simple mechanical modifications to the characters. Some are even relatively inconsequential; "Sterile" is only worth 5 BP, and only means you can't reproduce; Tone Deaf only prevents you from taking the Musician skill. Pocking results in a loss of 1 point of Looks (and a concomitant loss of 1 point of Charisma).


So, basically there's no actual rule here, but rather, the DM penalizes you when he feels like you didn't do something when he felt like you should have? Pardon me for feeling like that's way too squishy.

Yes and no. I was away from books, but Death Wish includes the restrictions "can never voluntarily give ground, fight defensively, or execute a full parry. Neither may he flee any combat (even if the character's player wishes to do so) unless he succeeds at a Wisdom check." So someone with a Death Wish has definite restrictions on his behavior, but the DM may choose to ding someone who is failing to play out her flaws, or reward someone who is.

An example given in the Hackmaster Basic PDf (http://www.kenzerco.com/free_files/hackmaster_basic_free_.pdf)



For instance, suppose that Dave's playing a 1st level thief with the Fear of Heights quirk. He might get an Honor reward for refusing to climb the evil archmage's tower, even though it would be the easiest way for his group to breach it, but he can't also decide to scale a building in order to reach the unguarded treasure room at the top, at least not without suffering an Honor hit for doing so.

Since General Role-playing is only one of four parts of your Honor gain, someone who is playing with a reasonable DM CAN choose to ignore their Quirks and Flaws and not be too badly hit for it... but there's also clear indication that someone who does it well should be rewarded (and better than they're penalized; you can lose 3 honor for bad RP, but gain 4 for good).

Psyren
2014-08-18, 01:05 PM
If flaws give you benefits at all, they should be specific benefits, rather than simply being "free feat!" The benefit you get should be tied to the flaw in some way and shouldn't negate the flaw's penalty.

I don't mind the flaw being mostly irrelevant to your character - I wouldn't expect, say, Noncombatant to be relevant to a wizard, and it would make sense for them to have it. What I don't see is how Noncombatant can grant you, say, Improved Initiative.

Airk
2014-08-18, 01:16 PM
Not all of the flaws are squishy; some are simple mechanical modifications to the characters. Some are even relatively inconsequential; "Sterile" is only worth 5 BP, and only means you can't reproduce; Tone Deaf only prevents you from taking the Musician skill. Pocking results in a loss of 1 point of Looks (and a concomitant loss of 1 point of Charisma).

Yes, sorry. I didn't mean to dismiss these as irrelevant from a game perspective, just as irrelevant from a perspective of discussing "roleplaying" disadvantages. Getting a modifier to a stat is a modifier to a stat, no argument there.



Yes and no. I was away from books, but Death Wish includes the restrictions "can never voluntarily give ground, fight defensively, or execute a full parry. Neither may he flee any combat (even if the character's player wishes to do so) unless he succeeds at a Wisdom check." So someone with a Death Wish has definite restrictions on his behavior, but the DM may choose to ding someone who is failing to play out her flaws, or reward someone who is.

This is better, but at the end of the day, it just seems like if you're trying to be a weasel, you just pick flaws that don't come up very often and you've mostly defeated the 'penalize people for not playing their flaws' clause.



Since General Role-playing is only one of four parts of your Honor gain, someone who is playing with a reasonable DM CAN choose to ignore their Quirks and Flaws and not be too badly hit for it... but there's also clear indication that someone who does it well should be rewarded (and better than they're penalized; you can lose 3 honor for bad RP, but gain 4 for good).

Yeah. This basically goes back to what I was saying - the game had to also include a "reward people for playing their flaws" clause because the "penalize them for not doing so" clause is just way too fraught to be used on its own.

Mark Hall
2014-08-18, 01:49 PM
This is better, but at the end of the day, it just seems like if you're trying to be a weasel, you just pick flaws that don't come up very often and you've mostly defeated the 'penalize people for not playing their flaws' clause.

Did you also miss that picking your flaws gives you half the BP as rolling randomly? So, if you random roll Death Wish, you get 20 BP (20 BP is how much humans spend to purchase their class, or most races spend to pick their favored class). If you pick it, you get 10BP.

Sure, you can spend a BP to reroll a flaw you don't want, but that comes out of the final total... I've had taking a flaw COST me before, as I kept rolling stuff too expensive to be worth it.

jedipotter
2014-08-18, 02:19 PM
A greedy player who takes the "greedy" flaw always roleplays it, and never argues with the DM about applying it. A greedy character who takes the "overly-generous" trait invents unconvincing justifications for not roleplaying it, and often argues with the DM about applying it.

This is far too common. A flaw is nice, as long as it does not ruin the game. But few players understand that, and they will just use the flaw to ruin the game.

Take our greedy flaw character going to the Kings Dinner. Soon enough he is ''being greedy'' and stealing silverware. But ''greedy'' does not mean ''dumb stupid thief''. You can be ''greedy'' and not steal from the king.

The same way later the group finds a huge pile of gold, on some sort of unseen trap. And the ''greedy' character just ignores it.

Airk
2014-08-18, 02:34 PM
Did you also miss that picking your flaws gives you half the BP as rolling randomly? So, if you random roll Death Wish, you get 20 BP (20 BP is how much humans spend to purchase their class, or most races spend to pick their favored class). If you pick it, you get 10BP.

Honestly, this is trivial to me without the other restrictions. If I'm getting points "for free" it doesn't matter if I'm getting X points or X/2 points, because I'm not taking any sort of penalty for any of them. And it's the other restrictions that keep this from being "for free".

And honestly, I'm not a big fan of random rolls for stuff like this, so I tend to view it more as "You get double points for your flaws if you suck it up and take whatever crappy stuff the dice give you" rather than "You get half points if you cherry pick your own."

Knaight
2014-08-18, 03:31 PM
A greedy player who takes the "greedy" flaw always roleplays it, and never argues with the DM about applying it. A greedy character who takes the "overly-generous" trait invents unconvincing justifications for not roleplaying it, and often argues with the DM about applying it.

It depends on how flaws are implemented. If it's an up-front point boost, sure, not roleplaying them is encouraged, as is finding flaws that aren't really flaws. This can even get taken to ridiculous extremes, such as someone taking a high gambling skill, taking "lucky" as a gift, then taking "addicted to gambling" as a flaw.

By contrast, if the flaws are set up such that there is a mechanical incentive to have them actually come up, people will role play them, even if they aren't going to play that way at all by default.

Jay R
2014-08-18, 03:46 PM
This is far too common. A flaw is nice, as long as it does not ruin the game. But few players understand that, and they will just use the flaw to ruin the game.

Take our greedy flaw character going to the Kings Dinner. Soon enough he is ''being greedy'' and stealing silverware. But ''greedy'' does not mean ''dumb stupid thief''. You can be ''greedy'' and not steal from the king.

The same way later the group finds a huge pile of gold, on some sort of unseen trap. And the ''greedy' character just ignores it.

Agreed. I kept having to remind one DM, "No, my Thief hasn't become Lawful. He is not stealing anything because he's traveling with a Paladin, and it's more lucrative than theft ever was."

Mark Hall
2014-08-18, 04:40 PM
Honestly, this is trivial to me without the other restrictions. If I'm getting points "for free" it doesn't matter if I'm getting X points or X/2 points, because I'm not taking any sort of penalty for any of them. And it's the other restrictions that keep this from being "for free".


I guess I'm honestly not understanding your objection, then. The flaws we've talked about have had clear mechanical penalties, in addition to their granted points. Failure to play them out can have penalties, and playing them out can have benefits.

I'm just not seeing where any of this is "for free".



And honestly, I'm not a big fan of random rolls for stuff like this, so I tend to view it more as "You get double points for your flaws if you suck it up and take whatever crappy stuff the dice give you" rather than "You get half points if you cherry pick your own."

Lots of folks aren't, but I've found it works wonderfully.

The Insanity
2014-08-19, 05:34 AM
Characters in this comic (http://grandline3point5.thecomicseries.com/comics/first/) use quite a number of flaws in their builds and I like how the author made flaws relevant and cool for roleplaying. It even made me consider allowing my players taking how many flaws they like. I'd have to remove strictly numerical flaws and homebrew some more of them, tho.

Airk
2014-08-19, 09:27 AM
I guess I'm honestly not understanding your objection, then. The flaws we've talked about have had clear mechanical penalties, in addition to their granted points. Failure to play them out can have penalties, and playing them out can have benefits.

I'm just not seeing where any of this is "for free".

My point is that there's very little here that can keep you from picking flaws that are unlikely to come up for the points. Yes, some of them have 'always on' mechanical effects (like 'pocked' as you cited), but it seems to me that they'd have to be extremely careful designing their flaws to avoid the ability for people to pick up essentially 'free' points, because there are no really meaningful system safeguards against people picking flaws they don't think will come into play.

This is why I feel the best safeguard for that is to NOT award points at chargen, but only award points when the flaw comes up.



Lots of folks aren't, but I've found it works wonderfully.

That's nice. People have found random chargen to work too. This subject is not really worthwhile to discuss.

AMFV
2014-08-19, 09:52 AM
My point is that there's very little here that can keep you from picking flaws that are unlikely to come up for the points. Yes, some of them have 'always on' mechanical effects (like 'pocked' as you cited), but it seems to me that they'd have to be extremely careful designing their flaws to avoid the ability for people to pick up essentially 'free' points, because there are no really meaningful system safeguards against people picking flaws they don't think will come into play.

And there's no meaningful system safeguards against me "forgetting" to write down my damage, or bringing loaded dice to a game. There is no way to properly safeguard against players who are deliberately trying to break the game, since first and foremost, what that is is going to vary from group to group.

Also it's not exactly the players responsibility to insure that their flaws come up in a meaningful way. As a DM that should be something you see to if the players are not being affected by it. And that's something that most DM's should be able to manage. If the players take a "murky eyed" flaw, then have there be occasionally encounters at range or in poor lighting. Not all the time, but enough to bring the flaw into significance.



This is why I feel the best safeguard for that is to NOT award points at chargen, but only award points when the flaw comes up.

The best safeguard is to DM so that flaws are introduced into game play. If you only award points when the flaw comes up, and you don't have them come up, you might as well not have the flaw at all, which is to my thinking almost as bad as the free points.



That's nice. People have found random chargen to work too. This subject is not really worthwhile to discuss.

Why not?

Mark Hall
2014-08-19, 11:01 AM
That's nice. People have found random chargen to work too. This subject is not really worthwhile to discuss.


Why not?

It's a bit out of scope for this discussion, certainly, but I'll talk about it elsewhere, if you like. You ever accidentally rolled up an incredibly stupid halfling pyromaniac and his needy gnomish rogue friend?

AMFV
2014-08-19, 11:06 AM
It's a bit out of scope for this discussion, certainly, but I'll talk about it elsewhere, if you like. You ever accidentally rolled up an incredibly stupid halfling pyromaniac and his needy gnomish rogue friend?

That sounds incredibly awesome...

In any case my point, I think still stands, it's not the player's responsibility to make sure that flaws are meaningful but the DM's, and a DM particularly in a really rules dense game like Hackmaster should be able to do that.

The Insanity
2014-08-19, 11:39 AM
But it's not the DM's fault if the flaws the system offers can't be made meaningful. How would you make meaningful a -1 penalty to AC?

Mark Hall
2014-08-19, 11:47 AM
But it's not the DM's fault if the flaws the system offers can't be made meaningful. How would you make meaningful a -1 penalty to AC?

Allow me to demonstrate with my friend, Sir Punchington, and his friend, a sock containing a half-brick. :smallbiggrin:

Knaight
2014-08-19, 01:13 PM
And there's no meaningful system safeguards against me "forgetting" to write down my damage, or bringing loaded dice to a game. There is no way to properly safeguard against players who are deliberately trying to break the game, since first and foremost, what that is is going to vary from group to group.

That's not even remotely similar. There's a difference between outright cheating, and a subsystem being made such that the game encourages picking flaws that are negligible, and the latter is easily solved just by having the benefits of the flaw come up when the flaw does, instead of up front.

The Insanity
2014-08-19, 01:48 PM
Allow me to demonstrate with my friend, Sir Punchington, and his friend, a sock containing a half-brick. :smallbiggrin:
:smallconfused:

AMFV
2014-08-19, 04:04 PM
But it's not the DM's fault if the flaws the system offers can't be made meaningful. How would you make meaningful a -1 penalty to AC?

A -1 Penalty to AC is equivalent to getting hit 5% more of the time, which means that it will likely be meaningful in almost every combat.


That's not even remotely similar. There's a difference between outright cheating, and a subsystem being made such that the game encourages picking flaws that are negligible, and the latter is easily solved just by having the benefits of the flaw come up when the flaw does, instead of up front.

There is certainly a difference, but deliberately manipulating the game rules against their spirit is a form of cheating to be sure. Even if you're following the letter of the law. That is one solution but as I've pointed out (and others have) it's hardly the only solution.

The Insanity
2014-08-19, 04:22 PM
A -1 Penalty to AC is equivalent to getting hit 5% more of the time, which means that it will likely be meaningful in almost every combat.
I suck at math, so I won't question it, but correct or not, it's not very meaningful, for example on a tank character who has more than enough AC to not care about that -1. Or a caster.

Segev
2014-08-19, 04:30 PM
I suck at math, so I won't question it, but correct or not, it's not very meaningful, for example on a tank character who has more than enough AC to not care about that -1. Or a caster.

The tank has clearly taken his weakness and struggled to overcome it. Nevertheless, he will always be more hittable than the tank who lacked that weakness in the first place and otherwise built identically. The caster has a weakness he has worked around rather than through. Again, quite fitting.

Now, you can argue that it's not balanced against the advantage he got from whatever he took with the bonus feat/points/whatever, but that's not the same as it being completely pointless or irrelevant or flavorless.

bjoern
2014-08-19, 06:40 PM
I'd say that it adds an opportunity for something different in the campaign. My current character has wisdom as a dump stat, race has a penalty to wisdom, took flawpathetic:wisdom, and flaw:unattentive (-4 spot&listen) .
I really didn't notice it until I was adding up my skills at the end of character creation but my guy is -6 to spot and listen with no ranks since its not a class skill.
This has already led to some funny in game situations. My guy says "what?, where?, who?, and huh?" A lot

Flaws really only become overpowering if the DM doesn't play that characters weakness against it once in a while.

NichG
2014-08-19, 06:42 PM
The problem with the -1 to AC isn't that it doesn't have a meaningful mechanical effect, its that the mechanical effect is pretty bland. Sure it 'matters', but its never going to really be in people's thoughts about the character or alter the way the character is played. So if the point of the flaw is to make the character seem more distinctive, then a -1 to AC flaw fails in that regard.

kyoryu
2014-08-19, 06:45 PM
The worst flaws and traits are the ones taken just to get free points, and chosen to be unlikely to come up in play.

I kinda like the fact that in Fate, you only get points from "flaws" (negative aspects) when they actually come up in play.

Pex
2014-08-19, 06:58 PM
For my group using Pathfinder the Traits are pretty much just a patch. They're to make a skill a class kill or give a little boost to something you need like initiative. The Mystic Theurge used one to increase his arcane caster level. This is not a problem for us. We roleplay for its own sake, but if a game mechanics facilitates, that's fine too. For example, my Oracle of Life has Clouded Vision. I wanted the Birthmark Trait for +2 to saves vs charm and compulsion. However, for flavor text the birthmark is my pupils are shaped abnormally to help explain my blindness. Birthmark also counts as a divine focus for spellcasting. Oracles don't need a divine focus anyway, but Birthmark provides a reason for my character.

The Insanity
2014-08-20, 12:29 PM
Now, you can argue that it's not balanced against the advantage he got from whatever he took with the bonus feat/points/whatever, but that's not the same as it being completely pointless or irrelevant or flavorless.
I didn't say it's pointless and I would rather say its flavor is bland than flavorless.

AMFV
2014-08-20, 03:18 PM
I didn't say it's pointless and I would rather say its flavor is bland than flavorless.

That really depends though, inherently everything that is a number is pretty flavorless until you apply the fluff to it, which is the equivalency of spicing it. If I say for example take a flaw that gives me -1 to AC. It's pretty bland but if it's fluffed as "being overconfident" and I roleplay that then it can become a chief aspect of my character's flavor.

Mark Hall
2014-08-20, 05:49 PM
That really depends though, inherently everything that is a number is pretty flavorless until you apply the fluff to it, which is the equivalency of spicing it. If I say for example take a flaw that gives me -1 to AC. It's pretty bland but if it's fluffed as "being overconfident" and I roleplay that then it can become a chief aspect of my character's flavor.

Right. The flaw usually has some sort of reasoning behind it, not just mechanics. It's bland if it's just a mechanical adjustment; the trick is what that mechanical adjustment represents.

NichG
2014-08-20, 07:25 PM
I'd say its still bland, because whatever that reasoning might be, it ends up being pretty independent from the number. You can say 'my character is overconfident!' and play that without having the -1 to AC. Similarly, when you get hit by 1, you can think of a dozen reasons why that might have happened - the fact that your AC is a bit smaller doesn't actually help you communicate that 'my character is overconfident' to other players, because they don't know how your AC is computed (and going through that calculation in front of everyone every time you get hit by an attack is probably one of the best ways to destroy immersion).

Compare that with something like 'Overconfident: Fear effects that would normally make you flee instead make you run towards the nearest monster'. When that comes up, its immediately recognizable as distinct from other influences on the character and the action and situation it creates are intuitively connected with the concept of someone overconfident than. Without being explicitly told what's going on behind the scenes or being familiar with the mechanics, an observer might be able to conclude 'that guy is overconfident' just watching the behavior the flaw induces.

AMFV
2014-08-20, 09:38 PM
I'd say its still bland, because whatever that reasoning might be, it ends up being pretty independent from the number. You can say 'my character is overconfident!' and play that without having the -1 to AC. Similarly, when you get hit by 1, you can think of a dozen reasons why that might have happened - the fact that your AC is a bit smaller doesn't actually help you communicate that 'my character is overconfident' to other players, because they don't know how your AC is computed (and going through that calculation in front of everyone every time you get hit by an attack is probably one of the best ways to destroy immersion).

Well it's not intended for other characters it's intended for you. Other players have no reason to know ANY of the details of your sheet. It's intended to cause you to get hit more often, and therefore damaged more, which in turn is what is likely to happen to somebody who is overconfident. Basically it's representing mechanically something that might not necessarily appear otherwise. It isn't primarily for the other characters it's primarily for you, both to give you a roleplay reminder of the consequences of your character's patterns of behavior, and to give the other characters a mechanical reminder (in that you'll be damaged more)



Compare that with something like 'Overconfident: Fear effects that would normally make you flee instead make you run towards the nearest monster'. When that comes up, its immediately recognizable as distinct from other influences on the character and the action and situation it creates are intuitively connected with the concept of someone overconfident than. Without being explicitly told what's going on behind the scenes or being familiar with the mechanics, an observer might be able to conclude 'that guy is overconfident' just watching the behavior the flaw induces.

Well that's fundamentally different. "I'm reckless so when I attack I don't defend myself" is a much better representation of overconfidence than "When I'm scared I attack somebody near to me", which is a representation of psychosis, not overconfidence. Also the -1 to AC changes almost no aspects of the game, it's a small numerical change. The other one may require huge houseruling it could cause you to have severe issues (illusions over pits for example, flying monsters that don't appear to be flying that sort of thing), -1 to AC is not likely to be that significant in gameplay the other, is likely to completely shift certain encounters. Which is again a representation of overconfidence that is so far gone as to be almost absurd, which is certainly something that may need to be represented, but it's far more than most overconfident folks would need.

NichG
2014-08-20, 10:58 PM
Well it's not intended for other characters it's intended for you. Other players have no reason to know ANY of the details of your sheet. It's intended to cause you to get hit more often, and therefore damaged more, which in turn is what is likely to happen to somebody who is overconfident. Basically it's representing mechanically something that might not necessarily appear otherwise. It isn't primarily for the other characters it's primarily for you, both to give you a roleplay reminder of the consequences of your character's patterns of behavior, and to give the other characters a mechanical reminder (in that you'll be damaged more)


The thing is, without the ability to easy trace causality, most of the impact is lost. It reminds me of some older computer strategy games, where the designers had this strong belief that if the system was more complex and more intricately realistic under the hood (e.g. in the layer behind the derived stats), that would automatically result in a game that was more involving and immersive. Instead what happens is that all of those factors add up to a lot of random noise and can't be perceived by the players because its hidden behind the derived stat layer (Master of Orion 3 was basically the epitome of doing this, and how it really doesn't work). Now, in more modern games in the same genre, there's a lot of exploration intocoming up with ways to actually make causality openly visible to the player - the result is that the game feels as if there are more factors which are important to the outcome, as opposed to feeling like it's being driven by a swingy random number generator.

Unless something is really good at making you understand its effect in a distinctive way, it isn't going to act as a roleplay aid. The most flavorful things are the ones that help people come to the conclusion 'oh, X happened because of Y!' - e.g. things which help you and others understand your character better. When that line of causality becomes blurred (e.g. via mixing of bonuses or other effects) then it becomes hard to say why exactly things happened, and so the meaning (story-wise) of those events becomes lessened as a result.



Well that's fundamentally different. "I'm reckless so when I attack I don't defend myself" is a much better representation of overconfidence than "When I'm scared I attack somebody near to me", which is a representation of psychosis, not overconfidence. Also the -1 to AC changes almost no aspects of the game, it's a small numerical change. The other one may require huge houseruling it could cause you to have severe issues (illusions over pits for example, flying monsters that don't appear to be flying that sort of thing), -1 to AC is not likely to be that significant in gameplay the other, is likely to completely shift certain encounters. Which is again a representation of overconfidence that is so far gone as to be almost absurd, which is certainly something that may need to be represented, but it's far more than most overconfident folks would need.

The fact that '-1 AC is not likely to be that significant in gameplay' is part of the problem - its easy to forget its there. It becomes irrelevant except in vague mechanical balance ways. I would argue that if someone isn't overconfident enough that it creates significant changes in gameplay, there's no need to assign any mechanical effect to it at all - in fact, doing so distracts from other, more important things. There's only so much a person can keep track of and find meaningful - a person's impression of a character is going to be dominated by maybe 5 or so factors - so you don't want to use up that attention on stuff that doesn't really matter.

If you want something more along the lines of 'I'm reckless so when I attack I don't defend myself' then I'd propose the following variant: When this character attacks an enemy, they become flatfooted for one round. It's not quite as interesting as forced movement, but it still corresponds to something fairly distinctive because it sets a status condition in response to an action - something that promotes awareness of itself by requiring some tracking from the player.

'Overconfident' to me is broader than attack and defense, so I'm not a huge fan of that. Maybe I'd go with something like this: '1/game, the DM can insist that this character arrives at a new room one round in advance of the rest of the party; the character automatically moves first in the initiative order if combat ensues as a result.'

AMFV
2014-08-20, 11:07 PM
The thing is, without the ability to easy trace causality, most of the impact is lost. It reminds me of some older computer strategy games, where the designers had this strong belief that if the system was more complex and more intricately realistic under the hood (e.g. in the layer behind the derived stats), that would automatically result in a game that was more involving and immersive. Instead what happens is that all of those factors add up to a lot of random noise and can't be perceived by the players because its hidden behind the derived stat layer (Master of Orion 3 was basically the epitome of doing this, and how it really doesn't work). Now, in more modern games in the same genre, there's a lot of exploration intocoming up with ways to actually make causality openly visible to the player - the result is that the game feels as if there are more factors which are important to the outcome, as opposed to feeling like it's being driven by a swingy random number generator.


I always felt Master of Orion was incredibly immersive, actually, and was not even a little bit random noise. I suspect that's the reason why I don't mind minor flaws like a -1 to AC. Also MOO 3 was extremely popular among the 4X crowd and therefore we have to assume that at least some people enjoy the way it handles immersion.

But I do understand how that might not be immersive for everybody. It just depends on how easily you ascribe meaning to the numbers, and that's different for everybody, I think.



Unless something is really good at making you understand its effect in a distinctive way, it isn't going to act as a roleplay aid. The most flavorful things are the ones that help people come to the conclusion 'oh, X happened because of Y!' - e.g. things which help you and others understand your character better. When that line of causality becomes blurred (e.g. via mixing of bonuses or other effects) then it becomes hard to say why exactly things happened, and so the meaning (story-wise) of those events becomes lessened as a result.

But I've said it does... for me. So either I am lying, I am mistaken about how I feel about things, or you are incorrect.



The fact that '-1 AC is not likely to be that significant in gameplay' is part of the problem - its easy to forget its there. It becomes irrelevant except in vague mechanical balance ways. I would argue that if someone isn't overconfident enough that it creates significant changes in gameplay, there's no need to assign any mechanical effect to it at all - in fact, doing so distracts from other, more important things. There's only so much a person can keep track of and find meaningful - a person's impression of a character is going to be dominated by maybe 5 or so factors - so you don't want to use up that attention on stuff that doesn't really matter.

I think the problem is that you are wanting flaws to define a character, and they can. But that means that they have to have higher value. The -1 to AC is a flaw that results in one feat, which is very little gain in game, so those would be minor flaws.



If you want something more along the lines of 'I'm reckless so when I attack I don't defend myself' then I'd propose the following variant: When this character attacks an enemy, they become flatfooted for one round. It's not quite as interesting as forced movement, but it still corresponds to something fairly distinctive because it sets a status condition in response to an action - something that promotes awareness of itself by requiring some tracking from the player.

'Overconfident' to me is broader than attack and defense, so I'm not a huge fan of that. Maybe I'd go with something like this: '1/game, the DM can insist that this character arrives at a new room one round in advance of the rest of the party; the character automatically moves first in the initiative order if combat ensues as a result.'

I'm not really going to address the specific flaw you're presenting. Both of the flaws you've presented were reasonable, just much more debilitating and significant than any of the flaws that are present in Unearthed Arcana (since we're on D&D footing now). And that's not necessarily wrong. A -1 to AC represents somebody who fights a little bit impetuously but not so much that they are going to be risking death every fight. As the flat-footed would be. Being flat-footed on attacking would mean that every fight with a rogue would be a death trap, so that should have more of a benefit than presumably a single feat (or equivalent).

A -1 to AC is fine, because in that case being overconfident is part of your character we can call that a minor flaw, it doesn't define your character, it's just part of the character's overall makeup. The flaws you've presented we'll call major flaws meaning that any time they come up they completely define the character. Which isn't necessarily bad, but it's a difference of degree.

Basically the -1 to AC is about equivalent to a feat (roughly, don't quote me on that), yours is equivalent to VoP, it's going to completely define the character, and that's fine, but it should have greater benefit to counteract the much higher cost.

NichG
2014-08-20, 11:58 PM
I always felt Master of Orion was incredibly immersive, actually, and was not even a little bit random noise. I suspect that's the reason why I don't mind minor flaws like a -1 to AC. Also MOO 3 was extremely popular among the 4X crowd and therefore we have to assume that at least some people enjoy the way it handles immersion.

This may be the start of a side conversation, but I grew up during the period these games were being released. MoO 1 and MoO 2 were both generally heralded as incredible, popular, and immersive. MoO 3 was, both to me and in all contexts where I interacted with the community around it, considered to be a massive step in the wrong direction (the fact that you can win the game by just hitting 'next turn' and letting the computer make all the decisions for you was one of the big complaints, but more generally that all of the supposedly complex internal model was basically invisible to the players and impossible to interact with meaningfully. This was especially levied against the diplomacy model, where there were certain arbitrary choices that had arbitrary consequences, and there was no feedback in the game to actually understand what those choices 'did'). So, I won't claim you didn't enjoy the game since of course you're the only arbiter of that. But I will dispute the claim that it was 'extremely popular among the 4X crowd', which at least based on the forums and community at that time, I think is just factually incorrect.

Since you're familiar with it though, compare MoO3 to MoO2. The internal model in MoO3 was certainly more complex, but MoO2 feels like a much more complex game to actually play. Your ships are more than tradeoffs between defense, cost, and firepower - by having to move them around in order to target enemy ships, things like maneuverability and turn speed are made to matter to the player in a way that they simply don't in MoO3's combat model. The various special ship systems do distinct things - a subspace teleporter and a high energy focus and assault shuttles each do something particular that makes the logic of their inclusion in a given ship design much richer, whereas MoO3 tends to boil everything down to flat or percentage modifiers to damage and defense, and so makes the ship design minigame much more limited.



But I've said it does... for me. So either I am lying, I am mistaken about how I feel about things, or you are incorrect.


The most likely thing is that our standards for 'roleplaying aid' are very different. At least based on your other posts, you seem to be concerned with the idea of 'simulation accuracy' when it comes to the interpretation of these flaws/traits, whereas simulation accuracy doesn't factor into my definition of 'roleplay' - I'm more interested in richness of characterization, even if that requires that the simulation be wildly inaccurate to achieve it.



I think the problem is that you are wanting flaws to define a character, and they can. But that means that they have to have higher value. The -1 to AC is a flaw that results in one feat, which is very little gain in game, so those would be minor flaws.


Yes, basically. To put this more broadly, only things which define a character in some significant way are relevant to 'roleplay' for me. Things which are 'minor' don't need or benefit from being explicitly modeled by the mechanics, because there's enough flexibility in the open-ended parts of the game to encompass that kind of level of detail in a much more fine-tunable way than any specific mechanic can be (e.g. you can play your character as a little more headstrong, make decisions a little more quickly and a little more haphazardly than someone else, and doing that will far better capture any specific idea of 'overconfident' than a bite-sized bit of mechanics that makes a nearly irrelevant character change).

The mechanical side of things is another discussion, but I would argue that the mechanical purpose that flaws currently serve in D&D can be better accomplished in other ways if desired.



I'm not really going to address the specific flaw you're presenting. Both of the flaws you've presented were reasonable, just much more debilitating and significant than any of the flaws that are present in Unearthed Arcana (since we're on D&D footing now). And that's not necessarily wrong. A -1 to AC represents somebody who fights a little bit impetuously but not so much that they are going to be risking death every fight. As the flat-footed would be. Being flat-footed on attacking would mean that every fight with a rogue would be a death trap, so that should have more of a benefit than presumably a single feat (or equivalent).

Balance-wise, my preference would be to associate it with a strong but fixed perk. For example 'your attacks are so sudden and reckless that both you and your opponent are flatfooted for a round'.

Anyhow, don't underestimate the benefit of a single feat. Humans are the best core race for a reason. Getting an extra feat or two can mean entering a PrC several levels in advance, not to mention the transformative effects particular well-chosen feats have on the game - for example, certain Reserve Feats, Item Familiar, Power Attack, Quicken Spell, metamagic discounts, Adaptive Style for ToB characters, X stat to Y feats like Zen Archery or Crossbow Sniper, ...

But those are details of mechanical balance and are fairly fluid based on the type of game one is running.


Basically the -1 to AC is about equivalent to a feat (roughly, don't quote me on that), yours is equivalent to VoP, it's going to completely define the character, and that's fine, but it should have greater benefit to counteract the much higher cost.

I'm pretty sure I can spin at least a net +4 AC from a -1 AC flaw if I really want to, for nearly any character. Not to mention that if I'm a character who simply doesn't care about AC (e.g. I use miss chance as my primary defense) then I'm happy to give up 1AC to get, say, Divine Metamagic: Persistent Spell a little earlier. Mechanically speaking, I'd argue that the 'purpose' served by flaws in D&D is to give everyone two more feats at character-gen (which is good - I think the game is improved by people having more feats at the start - but they absolutely make everyone stronger all-around by being in the system)

AMFV
2014-08-21, 12:14 AM
<Snipped conversation about Master of Orion.>

I can certainly agree with a lot of that. But it's tangential to the discussion at hand.



The most likely thing is that our standards for 'roleplaying aid' are very different. At least based on your other posts, you seem to be concerned with the idea of 'simulation accuracy' when it comes to the interpretation of these flaws/traits, whereas simulation accuracy doesn't factor into my definition of 'roleplay' - I'm more interested in richness of characterization, even if that requires that the simulation be wildly inaccurate to achieve it.

Not exactly. I'll address more of that in a second. -1 to AC is not necessarily a good representation of overconfidence. I'd be fine with any representation, my point is that having mechanics to go with fluff helps me. Even if they're small mechanics.



Yes, basically. To put this more broadly, only things which define a character in some significant way are relevant to 'roleplay' for me. Things which are 'minor' don't need or benefit from being explicitly modeled by the mechanics, because there's enough flexibility in the open-ended parts of the game to encompass that kind of level of detail in a much more fine-tunable way than any specific mechanic can be (e.g. you can play your character as a little more headstrong, make decisions a little more quickly and a little more haphazardly than someone else, and doing that will far better capture any specific idea of 'overconfident' than a bite-sized bit of mechanics that makes a nearly irrelevant character change).

For me, I like to have to both aspects. The more mechanics I can have included that match, the better I'm going to feel the character is described mechanically. See, for me, I view a character as both a roleplayed character and as a collection of mechanics, and the fit between the two is important. And improving small things is required to make the fit work.

In other words if my character is a little more haphazard, I'd want him to be a little more vulnerable in combat, because it reflects the character mechanically. Although I can see how for you that might be needlessly, high resolution. Mostly because I want both. I want the roleplay to be nuanced, but I want the mechanics to be equally nuanced.



The mechanical side of things is another discussion, but I would argue that the mechanical purpose that flaws currently serve in D&D can be better accomplished in other ways if desired.

Potentially, D&D flaws were never all that fleshed out, but they were the ones mentioned. Hackmaster is probably better, but I'm not sure f I want to read it, since time is always a factor.



Balance-wise, my preference would be to associate it with a strong but fixed perk. For example 'your attacks are so sudden and reckless that both you and your opponent are flatfooted for a round'.


I agree completely. But it is a huge disadvantage and would therefore need to be counteracted with a huge advantage, much bigger than a feet. Rendering somebody flat-footed for a round under any circumstance where you attack is more powerful than almost any feat for martial characters.



Anyhow, don't underestimate the benefit of a single feat. Humans are the best core race for a reason. Getting an extra feat or two can mean entering a PrC several levels in advance, not to mention the transformative effects particular well-chosen feats have on the game - for example, certain Reserve Feats, Item Familiar, Power Attack, Quicken Spell, metamagic discounts, Adaptive Style for ToB characters, X stat to Y feats like Zen Archery or Crossbow Sniper, ...

Feats are certainly powerful, but they're not all equally powerful. And being flatfooted on an attack is cripplingly bad in many situations, I would say that's much worse than a feat.



I'm pretty sure I can spin at least a net +4 AC from a -1 AC flaw if I really want to, for nearly any character. Not to mention that if I'm a character who simply doesn't care about AC (e.g. I use miss chance as my primary defense) then I'm happy to give up 1AC to get, say, Divine Metamagic: Persistent Spell a little earlier. Mechanically speaking, I'd argue that the 'purpose' served by flaws in D&D is to give everyone two more feats at character-gen (which is good - I think the game is improved by people having more feats at the start - but they absolutely make everyone stronger all-around by being in the system)

Probably, but not in a way that the DM won't be able to counteract on occasion. If you're a caster who uses miss chance and has that flaw, then I would definitely make sure that on occasion you fight something with True Seeing (or the system equivalent). Basically my opinion is that it's the DM's job to make character traits relevant inside the world. Although I would argue that taking flaws that are deliberately not going to effect you at all, is probably poor sport (although arguably not, since those flaws could push you away from the sort of thing they affect). In any case the DM should be able to counteract that.

NichG
2014-08-21, 01:45 AM
Probably, but not in a way that the DM won't be able to counteract on occasion. If you're a caster who uses miss chance and has that flaw, then I would definitely make sure that on occasion you fight something with True Seeing (or the system equivalent). Basically my opinion is that it's the DM's job to make character traits relevant inside the world. Although I would argue that taking flaws that are deliberately not going to effect you at all, is probably poor sport (although arguably not, since those flaws could push you away from the sort of thing they affect). In any case the DM should be able to counteract that.

This isn't really good design, because it encourages or even mandates an arms race, which generally isn't a good situation. Anyhow, no, in general the DM can't counter the +4 AC I can net by using the flaw. Though I suppose its up to me to prove that, so...

- Ascetic Mage gets you Cha to AC as a sorceror/monk (1 level monk dip basically). If you have a 20 Cha, then there's the +4 AC right there. Also, your Sorc levels count as monk levels for AC bonus, so you get even more that way.
- Martial Stalker is similar for Fighter/Ninja... but then you already have problems.
- Elemental Stalker is the same, but Shugenja/Ninja.
- Swift Avenger is the same, but for Druid/Scout (okay, that starts to get more promising)
- If you already have Combat Expertise and are a ranged Wis-based character, Zen Archery provides a similar gimmick as Ascetic Mage without requiring the monk level. Alternately, Snowflake Wardance and get it from Cha.
- Weapon Supremacy gets you back the -1 AC... and gives you a whole bunch of other awesome stuff too.
- Underfoot Combat plus a Large-sized mount gets you +4 AC whenever you're on your mount, so that's a net of +3. And if your mount goes away, you can enter an enemy's square instead to get the bonus. Or if you're Tiny, then you can use a fellow PC. Incidentally, Defensive Expert ups this to +6, but of course its a pretty dedicated feat.
- Imbued Defense (Dragon Magazine) lets you get Wis to AC on any round in which you cast a spell defensively. You have to do some shenanigans to get it as a Cleric (because normally a wizard/sorc trades their familiar for it), but it may be easier to be a Wis-based arcane caster with a familiar to trade away.
- There's a gimmick with Corpsecrafter and turning yourself undead, but its only +2 AC.
- Defensive Magic (Dragon Magazine) makes it so your spells that improve Armor or Shield AC are buffed by +2. So Mage Armor and Shield gives an extra +4 for a net +3, with the added bonus that this works for other people too if you cast it on them. Also it gives you the ability to add a bonus to saves based on burning a spell slot.
- Abjurative Potency (Dragon Magazine) is similar, but its +1 AC to any abjuration that improves AC, so perhaps you can get more than +4 by combining a lot of spells this way.
- Elephant's Hide lets you burn a Wild Shape use to set your Natural Armor AC bonus to 7 for 10 minutes. Mildly conditional, since if you're already using Alter Self hijinks you'll have more already.
- For a Warforged, Adamantine Body is +8 AC and DR/2 with some downsides. Mithral and Iron Wood Body let you tune to taste
- Initiate of Mystra... well, its just so good that it belonged on the list, but technically among the other insane things it does it gives you access to a spell that grants a +10 Circumstance bonus to AC.
- Vow of Peace gets you +6 AC and your skin shatters weapons. Bit restrictive perhaps.
- Possibly something involving Martial Stance and well-chosen ToB stances? This may only be able to get you +2 AC though.
- Pawn of the Great Game makes AC irrelevant because you can just use Fort saves to survive everything, but maybe that's a bit of a cheat...

AMFV
2014-08-21, 07:58 AM
This isn't really good design, because it encourages or even mandates an arms race, which generally isn't a good situation. Anyhow, no, in general the DM can't counter the +4 AC I can net by using the flaw. Though I suppose its up to me to prove that, so...


Why not? Furthermore you're getting a +3 instead of a +4, so you'd never be as good as you would otherwise as others have pointed out.

NichG
2014-08-21, 08:26 AM
Why not?

Because, as I said, it encourages an arms race. The DM is obliged to alter the game to 'make sure the flaws count'. This encourages the player, as part of the normal course of play, to find ways to negate the DM's ability to 'make sure the flaws count', because of course otherwise they suffer a setback. This makes the DM think 'ah, I failed, I had better try harder'. And so on.

The best designs for flaw systems I've seen are the ones in which the player is made to want the flaw to 'count'. Usually this is something like a system in which the flaw is an opportunity to gain metagame resources at the expense of plot complications. This way you avoid the arms race (though in those you sometimes have to deal with players trying to 'milk' the flaw, so its good to have some kind of pacing built in).


Furthermore you're getting a +3 instead of a +4, so you'd never be as good as you would otherwise as others have pointed out.

This is some kind of logical fallacy, but since its so specific to optimization and character building I don't know if it has a standardized name. I'd call it something like the 'Opportunity Cost Double Counting Fallacy'. It's not reasonable to assume that every character will, over the course of their career, be able to take every feat. Because the number of feats is limited, it is just as likely that I will get a +0 instead of a +3, because I can't afford to take the AC bonus feat due to other constraints on my character build. In that sense, access to the flaw is strictly positive - I can do something which has a net bonus effect and which didn't influence my other plans. I can maybe do something else with it better than getting +3 AC of course, but the point is to show that the bare minimum result of flaws existing is that the power of my character increases (by 3AC or so).

This is a very general phenomenon associated with trade-off mechanics in optimization games, where the trade-off is defined in a character-independent way (e.g. its the same tradeoff for every character/player/build). The reason is that if there is any difference in valuation of the resources being traded for different character archetypes, it is always possible to use it to derive a net gain in power for at least some subset of the possible character archetypes, because if it is a break-even trade on average across the archetypes and variation exists, it will be a strictly bad deal for some and a strictly good deal for others. In other words, power creep is inevitable whenever you increase the number of options (with some caveats for adding options that are strictly negative across the board).

AMFV
2014-08-21, 08:31 AM
Because, as I said, it encourages an arms race. The DM is obliged to alter the game to 'make sure the flaws count'. This encourages the player, as part of the normal course of play, to find ways to negate the DM's ability to 'make sure the flaws count', because of course otherwise they suffer a setback. This makes the DM think 'ah, I failed, I had better try harder'. And so on.

So you mean the characters have to try to work to keep their flaws from killing them, and their flaws start to affect how the world around them reacts? That sounds an awful like character development and roleplaying.



The best designs for flaw systems I've seen are the ones in which the player is made to want the flaw to 'count'. Usually this is something like a system in which the flaw is an opportunity to gain metagame resources at the expense of plot complications. This way you avoid the arms race (though in those you sometimes have to deal with players trying to 'milk' the flaw, so its good to have some kind of pacing built in).

That is one way to design such systems. But again milking the flaw melodramatically could be just as bad. Also that way you have the player try to get the flaw to apply whenever they think it's useful and potentially forgetting it's existence otherwise. There are advantages to the other system .

And as I pointed out, the Arms Race encourages a particular kind of character development.



This is some kind of logical fallacy, but since its so specific to optimization and character building I don't know if it has a standardized name. I'd call it something like the 'Opportunity Cost Double Counting Fallacy'. It's not reasonable to assume that every character will, over the course of their career, be able to take every feat. Because the number of feats is limited, it is just as likely that I will get a +0 instead of a +3, because I can't afford to take the AC bonus feat due to other constraints on my character build. In that sense, access to the flaw is strictly positive - I can do something which has a net bonus effect and which didn't influence my other plans. I can maybe do something else with it better than getting +3 AC of course, but the point is to show that the bare minimum result of flaws existing is that the power of my character increases (by 3AC or so).

This is a very general phenomenon associated with trade-off mechanics in optimization games, where the trade-off is defined in a character-independent way (e.g. its the same tradeoff for every character/player/build). The reason is that if there is any difference in valuation of the resources being traded for different character archetypes, it is always possible to use it to derive a net gain in power for at least some subset of the possible character archetypes, because if it is a break-even trade on average across the archetypes and variation exists, it will be a strictly bad deal for some and a strictly good deal for others. In other words, power creep is inevitable whenever you increase the number of options (with some caveats for adding options that are strictly negative across the board).

That's not really true though either, since at least in D&D there are by RAW a limited number of flaw slots. And spending one to boost AC to counter the flaw you just took wastes one of two, and pretty pointlessly too. Furthermore that's likely to attract negative DM attention despite it's fairly limited actual advantage.

Edit: Because of the social aspects you can't just count the numbers, for example if I bring a character with NI in any stat, they're probably going to get closed down, and things like getting even very small things with no perceived drawback (although I'd rule that losing one of your two flaw slots is actually a huge drawback), is very likely to attract that attention. If you're optimizing in a vacuum you're correct. But people don't, so we have to take into account how people are likely to react.

NichG
2014-08-21, 09:31 AM
So you mean the characters have to try to work to keep their flaws from killing them, and their flaws start to affect how the world around them reacts? That sounds an awful like character development and roleplaying.

No, I mean the player feels like the world is out to get them, and so they play the metagame of adapting their character build in order to have a game of cat and mouse with the DM. "The DM has started to use monsters with True Seeing against me, so I'm going to dig up arguments for why Mind Blank protects against it on GitP so I can convince him I'm immune" isn't roleplay or character development.



That is one way to design such systems. But again milking the flaw melodramatically could be just as bad. Also that way you have the player try to get the flaw to apply whenever they think it's useful and potentially forgetting it's existence otherwise. There are advantages to the other system .


There's a couple of solutions to the milking-the-flaw problem. One is that the DM has to activate the flaw for the player to gain the bonus (e.g. in Numenera, the DM can say 'I want this to happen; if you spend 1xp you can prevent it, but if you don't then you get 2xp - one for you and one to give to someone else'). That way the player can ham it up or not and it doesn't influence the reward system. The 7th Sea approach is basically 'you get XP on a per-game basis if that game you had to deal with your flaw, but you also get XP if the DM fails to try to bring up your flaw for a long stretch' - so you get XP either way unless you actively avoid allowing your flaw to matter (e.g. the DM tries to bring it up and you sidestep). The third solution is that the flaw is a dynamic tradeoff with a nonlinear response, like the various ethics-meters in WoD. You can become more powerful by indulging your flaw, but at some point the consequences become greater than the power gain, and the entire thing is on a bit of a ratchet so you're actively managing the degree to which you trade your future for the present. That way 'milking the flaw' pretty much gets you killed/NPC'd out if you do it too much - determining the right amount of 'milking' is actually part of playing the game. I'm certain there are other solutions as well.


That's not really true though either, since at least in D&D there are by RAW a limited number of flaw slots. And spending one to boost AC to counter the flaw you just took wastes one of two, and pretty pointlessly too. Furthermore that's likely to attract negative DM attention despite it's fairly limited actual advantage.

This statement just proves my point for me: the flaw slots are a power resource. Each slot strictly increases the power of most characters, so people would actually take many more if the game allowed them to. Taking the maximum number of flaws is a mechanical no-brainer. That's why I said that, mechanically, flaws in D&D are basically 'here, have two free feats!'. That's not actually a problem for me, but honestly you could remove the 'flaw' part and just give everyone the two feats for free and it'd be pretty much exactly the same as it is now.



Edit: Because of the social aspects you can't just count the numbers, for example if I bring a character with NI in any stat, they're probably going to get closed down, and things like getting even very small things with no perceived drawback (although I'd rule that losing one of your two flaw slots is actually a huge drawback), is very likely to attract that attention. If you're optimizing in a vacuum you're correct. But people don't, so we have to take into account how people are likely to react.

This is the metagame arms race that I was saying is a bad outcome and a problem with the design of 'the DM should make the flaws matter'.

AMFV
2014-08-21, 09:43 AM
No, I mean the player feels like the world is out to get them, and so they play the metagame of adapting their character build in order to have a game of cat and mouse with the DM. "The DM has started to use monsters with True Seeing against me, so I'm going to dig up arguments for why Mind Blank protects against it on GitP so I can convince him I'm immune" isn't roleplay or character development.

Well that's rules lawyering, which is a different problem entirely. The metagame though does cause character development. The characters become more powerful, and more paranoid as they advance. Having to constantly adapt to deal with more and more horrific threats. This is certainly something that could develop character.

The problem is that you are arguing that there is very little correlation between a character's mechanics and their fluff. Which does fit your earlier stated viewpoint, but do you see how that would not fit my viewpoint?

For me the paranoia and having to look up and develop solutions as a player, will be reflected in the roleplaying aspects of the character, because that's how it works for me. So an arms race for me encourages both character development and it stops the quadratic advancement of my wizard character from eventually making the world irrelevant.



There's a couple of solutions to the milking-the-flaw problem. One is that the DM has to activate the flaw for the player to gain the bonus (e.g. in Numenera, the DM can say 'I want this to happen; if you spend 1xp you can prevent it, but if you don't then you get 2xp - one for you and one to give to someone else'). That way the player can ham it up or not and it doesn't influence the reward system. The 7th Sea approach is basically 'you get XP on a per-game basis if that game you had to deal with your flaw, but you also get XP if the DM fails to try to bring up your flaw for a long stretch' - so you get XP either way unless you actively avoid allowing your flaw to matter (e.g. the DM tries to bring it up and you sidestep). The third solution is that the flaw is a dynamic tradeoff with a nonlinear response, like the various ethics-meters in WoD. You can become more powerful by indulging your flaw, but at some point the consequences become greater than the power gain, and the entire thing is on a bit of a ratchet so you're actively managing the degree to which you trade your future for the present. That way 'milking the flaw' pretty much gets you killed/NPC'd out if you do it too much - determining the right amount of 'milking' is actually part of playing the game. I'm certain there are other solutions as well.


Those are all workable, and different in flavor. Although most of those have larger and more encompassing effects than the small flaws in D&D.



This statement just proves my point for me: the flaw slots are a power resource. Each slot strictly increases the power of most characters, so people would actually take many more if the game allowed them to. Taking the maximum number of flaws is a mechanical no-brainer. That's why I said that, mechanically, flaws in D&D are basically 'here, have two free feats!'. That's not actually a problem for me, but honestly you could remove the 'flaw' part and just give everyone the two feats for free and it'd be pretty much exactly the same as it is now.


But you've introduced a different power resource with your milking solutions. It's a different flavor of the same thing.



This is the metagame arms race that I was saying is a bad outcome and a problem with the design of 'the DM should make the flaws matter'.

But inherently there is going to be a metagame arms races. Since most systems cause characters to become relatively more powerful since as you advance you get more optimization choices and therefore can become more and more optimal as this happens, under most systems. This means that unless the DM is allowing fights to start becoming pushovers, at some point he is going to have to adjust things anyways.

Furthermore the "metagame arms race" as far as having people dispute certain things isn't really an arms race, there are arms races, but the metagame aspects of something are going to be present. And those consequences should therefore be factored in while optimizing.

NichG
2014-08-21, 11:03 AM
Well that's rules lawyering, which is a different problem entirely. The metagame though does cause character development. The characters become more powerful, and more paranoid as they advance. Having to constantly adapt to deal with more and more horrific threats. This is certainly something that could develop character.

The problem is that you are arguing that there is very little correlation between a character's mechanics and their fluff. Which does fit your earlier stated viewpoint, but do you see how that would not fit my viewpoint?

Actually, I'm not arguing that. In general, having a strong correlation between mechanics and fluff is actually what I want from a game (I just want the mechanics to be broad strokes and not little detail things that end up being interchangeable, but thats an aside).

What I'm arguing is that there is an OOC stress that is induced by a system which encourages or forces antagonistic relationships between the DM and the players. That OOC stress can and often does encourage bad habits on both sides - metagaming on the part of the players and railroading on the part of the DM. I've been in plenty of games with arms races, and they aren't driven by any sort of in-character meaningful thing, they're driven by the out-of-character perceptions of the players. Sometimes its an arms race with the DM, or sometimes against other players, and the reasons can vary, but in games with the potential for large power gaps and steep power curves its something that needs to be watched carefully since it usually either leads to OOC resentment or to the game becoming destabilized. It doesn't really have any positive in-character effects, because the motivations become so warped and distorted by what the player feels that they bear no resemblance to anything coming out of the in-game events.

E.g. at some point it becomes things like 'so and so told me his AC is up to 30; I'm only 5 points ahead now, I'd better find a way to boost mine!' or 'this player is bragging that he's untouchable, I have to send some gimmick monsters to take him down a peg' or other things like that.



For me the paranoia and having to look up and develop solutions as a player, will be reflected in the roleplaying aspects of the character, because that's how it works for me. So an arms race for me encourages both character development and it stops the quadratic advancement of my wizard character from eventually making the world irrelevant.


An arms race actually speeds up your wizard making the world irrelevant, because all those things which are fixed due to having already been introduced don't become more powerful during the arms race. The DM instead is encouraged to introduce wave after wave of new enemies who haven't been seen before in the campaign because those are his chance to customize the world to defeat you. So very quickly those things that were around before become totally outclassed, and therefore become irrelevant.

If the default advancement of a wizard is quadratic, you have to consider that adding an arms race component means you're also stepping up the optimization as you go, so you end up with a character that is cubic at least. I suspect due to DM/player feedback in these things its more like an exponential though. In one such arms race, I saw a player who was using a massive X stat to Y/ubercharger/iaijutsu master/flurry of attacks build be disappointed that he was 'only' doing 15k damage a round, because someone else in the party revealed that they had an ace up their sleeve that would let them do 30k in a pinch if needed using timestop and metamagicked Delayed Blast Fireballs.



But you've introduced a different power resource with your milking solutions. It's a different flavor of the same thing.


Sure, as I've said, this is universally true of all optional things one introduces to the game. But of course, I don't see adding power as necessarily an intrinsically bad thing - I just think its important to be aware that that's what you're doing and not make the mistake of thinking 'I'll make the penalties equal to the rewards, so it will be a neutral change'. Anything you want a player to grab is going to come with a little bit of a power kickback - the thing to do is to get something in exchange for that which also improves the game through other ways at the same time.



But inherently there is going to be a metagame arms races. Since most systems cause characters to become relatively more powerful since as you advance you get more optimization choices and therefore can become more and more optimal as this happens, under most systems. This means that unless the DM is allowing fights to start becoming pushovers, at some point he is going to have to adjust things anyways.

Furthermore the "metagame arms race" as far as having people dispute certain things isn't really an arms race, there are arms races, but the metagame aspects of something are going to be present. And those consequences should therefore be factored in while optimizing.

I agree that arms races are a generic problem in games with significant power curves and optimization gaps. However during a given campaign, they can end up happening faster or slower depending primarily on the psychology at the table. The aforementioned example of a character doing 30k damage AoEs with timestop + DBF was a case of a very fast ramp-up - maybe 15-20 sessions. In other campaigns using the exact same mechanics, that same kind of ramp-up could take 50+ sessions and may never get to that point over the course of the entire campaign.

Basically, its the line between players feeling 'I enjoy becoming stronger' and 'I need to become stronger to be okay'.

AMFV
2014-08-21, 11:40 AM
Actually, I'm not arguing that. In general, having a strong correlation between mechanics and fluff is actually what I want from a game (I just want the mechanics to be broad strokes and not little detail things that end up being interchangeable, but thats an aside).

But it isn't an aside... Your outlook means that for you the tiny mechanical things are generally not seen as valuable fluff. Whereas the larger big stroke things are. It's a difference in perspective that means that we will see different things as being significant in-character. Which probably explains a lot of the difference in outlook here.



What I'm arguing is that there is an OOC stress that is induced by a system which encourages or forces antagonistic relationships between the DM and the players. That OOC stress can and often does encourage bad habits on both sides - metagaming on the part of the players and railroading on the part of the DM. I've been in plenty of games with arms races, and they aren't driven by any sort of in-character meaningful thing, they're driven by the out-of-character perceptions of the players. Sometimes its an arms race with the DM, or sometimes against other players, and the reasons can vary, but in games with the potential for large power gaps and steep power curves its something that needs to be watched carefully since it usually either leads to OOC resentment or to the game becoming destabilized. It doesn't really have any positive in-character effects, because the motivations become so warped and distorted by what the player feels that they bear no resemblance to anything coming out of the in-game events.

I think that you may have negative personal experiences clouding this. Realize that even with minute powergaps this can happen, and even in low level games. There is no preventing potential OOC resentment. In one game somebody could be resented because they're a VoP monk, in another because they're a mindraping wizard. Resentment can occur any place there is no equality, and since choices in game are intended to be meaningful that means that by extension not all choices can be equal.

So I would argue that OOC Arms Races are bad. But they aren't always that. Hell, in the other thread you gave an example of a rule intended to reduce player power, that was intended to have primarily IC effects, and was intended for a better narrative. That's entirely legitimate. For your argument to be true, all arms races can't have narrative or in-world significance and that isn't true.



E.g. at some point it becomes things like 'so and so told me his AC is up to 30; I'm only 5 points ahead now, I'd better find a way to boost mine!' or 'this player is bragging that he's untouchable, I have to send some gimmick monsters to take him down a peg' or other things like that.


While that may be true, that isn't always true at the same point for all people. If you're trying to take people down a peg, then you have other issues. You're conflating OOC disputes with IC power. I could have a level 10 VoP Monk with dodge and be bragging that I'm untouchable, and in many games I would be. And in other games I could have a 99% miss chance, dozens of mirror images, an AC of 60, be able to ignore physical damage, and still be threatened regularly.

Of course for many players there is going to be a point where the mechanics no longer make sense in terms of fluff things, but that isn't going to be the same point for everybody, and for some people it may even be unreachable. So it's not necessarily productive to say, anything that increases the mechanics is bad design, rather anything that increases the mechanics may wind up pushing some people out of immersion. So it should be considered but it isn't always universally bad.



An arms race actually speeds up your wizard making the world irrelevant, because all those things which are fixed due to having already been introduced don't become more powerful during the arms race. The DM instead is encouraged to introduce wave after wave of new enemies who haven't been seen before in the campaign because those are his chance to customize the world to defeat you. So very quickly those things that were around before become totally outclassed, and therefore become irrelevant.

Yes, but that's something that probably should be happening. As your players get the ability to travel across entire continents then they should be dealing with problems that bother people on a national scale, rather than on a community scale. And as a note those problems might not even be noticed in small remote villages, it's a natural progression though. As characters gain the ability to travel the planes they should be dealing with Global threats, rather than national ones.

If you want to force players to deal with the same level of threats, you have to have very little in-character advancement, and there are certainly games that take that approach, M&M is one, certain retroclones, Traveller. The way to ensure that the same challenges are relevant throughout is to take the focus away from advancement, otherwise what you're describing is inevitable, just not negative.



If the default advancement of a wizard is quadratic, you have to consider that adding an arms race component means you're also stepping up the optimization as you go, so you end up with a character that is cubic at least. I suspect due to DM/player feedback in these things its more like an exponential though. In one such arms race, I saw a player who was using a massive X stat to Y/ubercharger/iaijutsu master/flurry of attacks build be disappointed that he was 'only' doing 15k damage a round, because someone else in the party revealed that they had an ace up their sleeve that would let them do 30k in a pinch if needed using timestop and metamagicked Delayed Blast Fireballs.


Well both of those tricks can be easily negated. The way to deal with that sort of thing, in my opinion and experience is to create encounters designed to let specific players shine. Instead of trying to level out the playing field, give each player time in the spotlight. That generally breeds less resentment and decreases the need for people to construct an environment where they are directly competing since they each get their spot.



Sure, as I've said, this is universally true of all optional things one introduces to the game. But of course, I don't see adding power as necessarily an intrinsically bad thing - I just think its important to be aware that that's what you're doing and not make the mistake of thinking 'I'll make the penalties equal to the rewards, so it will be a neutral change'. Anything you want a player to grab is going to come with a little bit of a power kickback - the thing to do is to get something in exchange for that which also improves the game through other ways at the same time.

Well the thing is that it's very difficult to see how power will change in a vacuum, because even with optimization you have to have a player who can use those kind of decisions tactically. So basically the key is to be aware of it in-game, since it's going to vary too much. And because of that huge variation making system rules changes because of it, isn't always the best way to go. This is a DM responsibility not a designer responsibility. The designer isn't in a position to make the best decisions about this, and the DM is. The best option therefore is for the designers to include things that work at a very wide range of powers, rather than try to forcibly narrow the range which probably won't work anyways.



I agree that arms races are a generic problem in games with significant power curves and optimization gaps. However during a given campaign, they can end up happening faster or slower depending primarily on the psychology at the table. The aforementioned example of a character doing 30k damage AoEs with timestop + DBF was a case of a very fast ramp-up - maybe 15-20 sessions. In other campaigns using the exact same mechanics, that same kind of ramp-up could take 50+ sessions and may never get to that point over the course of the entire campaign.

Certainly, but a designer can't predict that, and have any possibility for choices being meaningful. Whereas the DM could see that and then work with the encounters to effectively sometimes neuter the player who does 30k damage (fire immunity, Warforged Frenzied Berserker/Warforged Juggernaut with Mad Foam rager {Immune to HP damage, Nonlethal damage, and can ignore the effect of 2 spells per battle till the end of battle}), and then have other encounters where he absolutely shines. They key here is to give each player a moment in the spotlight. Instead of thinking of the DM as an antagonist think of the DM as a director who works to spotlight and showcase each player. This can make arms races completely fun.



Basically, its the line between players feeling 'I enjoy becoming stronger' and 'I need to become stronger to be okay'.

Both are fine, depending on what sort of game you like, and the line is muddy, too muddy to be useful from a design perspective.

NichG
2014-08-21, 12:15 PM
But it isn't an aside... Your outlook means that for you the tiny mechanical things are generally not seen as valuable fluff. Whereas the larger big stroke things are. It's a difference in perspective that means that we will see different things as being significant in-character. Which probably explains a lot of the difference in outlook here.

I think that you may have negative personal experiences clouding this. Realize that even with minute powergaps this can happen, and even in low level games. There is no preventing potential OOC resentment. In one game somebody could be resented because they're a VoP monk, in another because they're a mindraping wizard. Resentment can occur any place there is no equality, and since choices in game are intended to be meaningful that means that by extension not all choices can be equal.

So I would argue that OOC Arms Races are bad. But they aren't always that. Hell, in the other thread you gave an example of a rule intended to reduce player power, that was intended to have primarily IC effects, and was intended for a better narrative. That's entirely legitimate. For your argument to be true, all arms races can't have narrative or in-world significance and that isn't true.


I'm making a point about how a specific kind of mechanic can induce an arms race. I don't think for me to be able to make a specific point like that I somehow have to prove that all arms races are always only due to strictly meta-game effects.

All I need to demonstrate is evidence that the specific kind of mechanic (something which demands an antagonistic relationship between the DM and a player) will lead to a primarily metagame arms race. The simple way to do this is to observe that the source of the tension from one side of this arms race is by definition metagame - the world itself has no particular reason or agency to in-character adjust the statistical distribution of powers used in such a way that encounters just so happen to nerf the player's trick. That impetus comes from outside the game - the need for the DM to 'make the flaw count' not due to any actual in-story meaningfulness of the flaw, but for the purely metagame reason of some kind of perceived balance requirement (which, I'd argue, the system doesn't actually even have in it - only your particular interpretation that you suggested for what the DM 'should do' given the possibility of a flaw being neutralized).

My take is, just let it go past you. There is no need for the DM to go out of their way to make the flaw count, because (in D&D), the flaw is basically free power anyways - that is its actual design goal and its purpose for being in the system. If you recognize that and simply let it do what it's there for, then you avoid the unnecessary metagame arms race. That won't prevent other sources from triggering an arms race, but its one factor you can avoid just by being more flexible as a DM and less micromanagey.



While that may be true, that isn't always true at the same point for all people. If you're trying to take people down a peg, then you have other issues. You're conflating OOC disputes with IC power. I could have a level 10 VoP Monk with dodge and be bragging that I'm untouchable, and in many games I would be. And in other games I could have a 99% miss chance, dozens of mirror images, an AC of 60, be able to ignore physical damage, and still be threatened regularly.

I'm arguing that your suggestion to force flaws to be meaningful is stemming more from OOC power struggles than it is from anything that the game system actually requires or requests. It seems to me to be more a suggestion borne out of resentment of a player 'getting away with something' than anything else, which is part of why it strikes me as an extremely bad direction to pursue.



Well both of those tricks can be easily negated. The way to deal with that sort of thing, in my opinion and experience is to create encounters designed to let specific players shine. Instead of trying to level out the playing field, give each player time in the spotlight. That generally breeds less resentment and decreases the need for people to construct an environment where they are directly competing since they each get their spot.

Well the thing is that it's very difficult to see how power will change in a vacuum, because even with optimization you have to have a player who can use those kind of decisions tactically. So basically the key is to be aware of it in-game, since it's going to vary too much. And because of that huge variation making system rules changes because of it, isn't always the best way to go. This is a DM responsibility not a designer responsibility. The designer isn't in a position to make the best decisions about this, and the DM is. The best option therefore is for the designers to include things that work at a very wide range of powers, rather than try to forcibly narrow the range which probably won't work anyways.

Certainly, but a designer can't predict that, and have any possibility for choices being meaningful. Whereas the DM could see that and then work with the encounters to effectively sometimes neuter the player who does 30k damage (fire immunity, Warforged Frenzied Berserker/Warforged Juggernaut with Mad Foam rager {Immune to HP damage, Nonlethal damage, and can ignore the effect of 2 spells per battle till the end of battle}), and then have other encounters where he absolutely shines. They key here is to give each player a moment in the spotlight. Instead of thinking of the DM as an antagonist think of the DM as a director who works to spotlight and showcase each player. This can make arms races completely fun.

The designer can absolutely predict these things and also can do something about them. You gave examples of designs which in fact take this into account - M&M, Traveller, etc. Optimization spread is one of the major design decisions that a designer can make, as is scope. FATE has a flat power curve, D&D has an exponential one, Nobilis starts you at the top and dares you to imagine how you could be more powerful when you already can do literally anything, etc.

And as for the 30k damage player, that was an example of an arms race between two players rather than between player and DM. But I think you're missing the point by focusing on 'how do I counter that?!' as a DM. That isn't the problem. The problem is that 30k is just a number, like 3 or 3x10^73. When things are relatively grounded in shared experience, those numbers are meaningful - I know a kobold has about 3hp; I know a Balor has about 300hp. If I can do 300hp a round, I know the meaning of that because I can just barely kill a Balor each round.

The fundamental breakdown that arms races eventually cause is that they destroy the meaningfulness of power. 15k hp damage is a big enough number to kill anything in the standard monster manuals. So maybe I say 'time to pull out Immortals Handbook' or I put some combo that gives immunity to damage or whatever. As the arms race proceeds, the players feel more and more excited about the ridiculous things they're pulling off. However, at some point (like I mentioned in the other thread) they realize that they've reached a point where all of those things are irrelevant. If they do 15khp a round or 150khp a round or whatever, its all the same, because the world (or the other person in the race) is just going to scale to keep up with them. They've exceeded the point where the numbers have concrete meaning in terms of things in the world, and as a result the bottom drops out of the game experience and everything begins to feel meaningless.

This is basically what the player of the 15khp damage character told me after that campaign arc ended - he was very excited about the kind of crazy damage he was figuring out how to do, up until he realized that it didn't matter at all, because the metagame considerations meant that it was just a big binary damage number - either you kill it, or it has insane hitpoints and you kill it slowly, or it has a trick that makes the damage number irrelevant. And after that, he basically never made a damage-based character again because all of the fun had been drained out of it for him (which in its own way had some benefit, since it meant he explored a lot of different kinds of characters after that)


Both are fine, depending on what sort of game you like, and the line is muddy, too muddy to be useful from a design perspective.

I'd strongly disagree with that statement. The line is very clear. Now, you may like to sit on either side of that line when you play, but from the point of view of the overall stability and direction of the social interactions at the gaming table, sitting on the far side has certain very distinct consequences. Especially for certain kinds of players, it evokes a very bad sort of social dynamic and creates all sorts of very unpleasant behaviors at the table.

AMFV
2014-08-21, 12:49 PM
I'm making a point about how a specific kind of mechanic can induce an arms race. I don't think for me to be able to make a specific point like that I somehow have to prove that all arms races are always only due to strictly meta-game effects.


Well your point was "this produces an arm's race ergo it's bad" which means that there are inherently two claims in your statement the first that that particular meta-game effect is producing an arm's race. Which I've said is certainly possible although I wouldn't necessarily argue that in all situations it'll be the case. I've been addressing your second implicit assertion, that "Arms Races are inherently negative". That was what I was addressing. Because for the fact that it can produce an Arm's Race to be negative, then Arms Race's have to be bad themselves, and I don't agree with that.



All I need to demonstrate is evidence that the specific kind of mechanic (something which demands an antagonistic relationship between the DM and a player) will lead to a primarily metagame arms race. The simple way to do this is to observe that the source of the tension from one side of this arms race is by definition metagame - the world itself has no particular reason or agency to in-character adjust the statistical distribution of powers used in such a way that encounters just so happen to nerf the player's trick. That impetus comes from outside the game - the need for the DM to 'make the flaw count' not due to any actual in-story meaningfulness of the flaw, but for the purely metagame reason of some kind of perceived balance requirement (which, I'd argue, the system doesn't actually even have in it - only your particular interpretation that you suggested for what the DM 'should do' given the possibility of a flaw being neutralized).

It isn't because of a balance reason. I think this is where we're moving past each other, the fact that the player takes a flaw means that they want this particular behavior to in some way affect their character. The reason they pick a particular flaw deals with the sort of affect they have. So it is not unreasonable to have that flaw have an affect.

The problem is that you are looking at the world in the context of it it's simulative significance. I'm looking at the flaw in terms of it's narrative significance. If I say "I'm Overconfident" as part of my character description, and I spend an in-game resource on it. That means that I believe that this is a fundamental part of my character, and addressing that should bring the character a deeper and more meaningful narrative.

Now there could certainly be balance concerns, but tackling that in that way, may or may not be an appropriate response dependent on group.



My take is, just let it go past you. There is no need for the DM to go out of their way to make the flaw count, because (in D&D), the flaw is basically free power anyways - that is its actual design goal and its purpose for being in the system. If you recognize that and simply let it do what it's there for, then you avoid the unnecessary metagame arms race. That won't prevent other sources from triggering an arms race, but its one factor you can avoid just by being more flexible as a DM and less micromanagey.


Well first you're again supposing that the Arms Race is inherently bad. And I don't agree with that, I don't think an Arm's Race is necessarily bad or confined to out of character actions. Flaws are not there for free power, they are intended (explicitly) to offer a level of greater character customization, which is why I allow them to affect players in the way that I do. Because I want to make people's decisions about their characters to be meaningful narratively.



I'm arguing that your suggestion to force flaws to be meaningful is stemming more from OOC power struggles than it is from anything that the game system actually requires or requests. It seems to me to be more a suggestion borne out of resentment of a player 'getting away with something' than anything else, which is part of why it strikes me as an extremely bad direction to pursue.

It isn't, it's a suggestion borne out of wanting all of the characters to have narrative highs and lows, that are stemming and fitting with their character decisions. I want sometimes for characters to deal with their problems and other times to be lifted up by their advantages. I want the choices that players make to be significant, and I work towards that goal.

That's the reason I'd make flaws significant in game, because their a choice, I didn't give the players a free feat, I gave them another way they could describe their character, and therefore another way that they can interact with the world.



The designer can absolutely predict these things and also can do something about them. You gave examples of designs which in fact take this into account - M&M, Traveller, etc. Optimization spread is one of the major design decisions that a designer can make, as is scope. FATE has a flat power curve, D&D has an exponential one, Nobilis starts you at the top and dares you to imagine how you could be more powerful when you already can do literally anything, etc.

Well in those cases there is very little advancement at all. I'm saying that the problem is that Arm's Races will exist at any level of spread at all. Any difference in character power is going to potentially breed resentment. Which means that you can't deal with it at a design level. You can deal with the "I advance from a humble peasant to Cthulu Punching Dragonsmasher Extraordinaire" or "I start out as a grizzled veteran and that's how I'll die" But that's addressing progress not disparity of power. Take a look at 4E, there's even clear power disparity there, and that was one of their stated design goals. Because player skill is impossible to account for, and degree of resentment that will be introduced by small differences is impossible to factor in, because it's too varied.



And as for the 30k damage player, that was an example of an arms race between two players rather than between player and DM. But I think you're missing the point by focusing on 'how do I counter that?!' as a DM. That isn't the problem. The problem is that 30k is just a number, like 3 or 3x10^73. When things are relatively grounded in shared experience, those numbers are meaningful - I know a kobold has about 3hp; I know a Balor has about 300hp. If I can do 300hp a round, I know the meaning of that because I can just barely kill a Balor each round.

The thing is that I'm not thinking of how to counter it every encounter. I'm thinking "how do I make this meaningful sometimes and not more meaningful than everybody else" One way to do that is to create encounters that those problems don't solve. Also notably you can kill zero Balors a round, since they're immune to Fire Damage. So the thing a DM needs to do is examine "how relevant that ability is, and how often does it come up", if it comes up constantly then they may need to occasionally build encounters that make it less relevant, if the reverse is true, then the DM may need to make encounters that make it more relevant.

Again it's not about countering something, it's about working within the framework of the system to make the character's choices narratively significant.



The fundamental breakdown that arms races eventually cause is that they destroy the meaningfulness of power. 15k hp damage is a big enough number to kill anything in the standard monster manuals. So maybe I say 'time to pull out Immortals Handbook' or I put some combo that gives immunity to damage or whatever. As the arms race proceeds, the players feel more and more excited about the ridiculous things they're pulling off. However, at some point (like I mentioned in the other thread) they realize that they've reached a point where all of those things are irrelevant. If they do 15khp a round or 150khp a round or whatever, its all the same, because the world (or the other person in the race) is just going to scale to keep up with them. They've exceeded the point where the numbers have concrete meaning in terms of things in the world, and as a result the bottom drops out of the game experience and everything begins to feel meaningless.

Well that's part of the problem with damage, it's why you can't just counter, as I said, you have to also make their abilities relevant if they aren't being relevant. It's about constructing that middle ground for any given spectrum of power.



This is basically what the player of the 15khp damage character told me after that campaign arc ended - he was very excited about the kind of crazy damage he was figuring out how to do, up until he realized that it didn't matter at all, because the metagame considerations meant that it was just a big binary damage number - either you kill it, or it has insane hitpoints and you kill it slowly, or it has a trick that makes the damage number irrelevant. And after that, he basically never made a damage-based character again because all of the fun had been drained out of it for him (which in its own way had some benefit, since it meant he explored a lot of different kinds of characters after that)
[/Quote]

Well maybe damage based characters aren't for him. Since really either your trick is going to be significant in a fight or it isn't is pretty much a limiting factor there. The point is that you work to make it so that players are significant, their choices matter. You just have to balance it so they don't solve every encounter, every time.



I'd strongly disagree with that statement. The line is very clear. Now, you may like to sit on either side of that line when you play, but from the point of view of the overall stability and direction of the social interactions at the gaming table, sitting on the far side has certain very distinct consequences. Especially for certain kinds of players, it evokes a very bad sort of social dynamic and creates all sorts of very unpleasant behaviors at the table.

The line is very clear for any one individual. The line is less clear for any one group, and very fuzzy for different groups altogether. For me as an individual the line is pretty fuzzy. Because I don't care. For me it's functionally identical, so I don't even notice the line, I don't necessarily recognize the difference between becoming more powerful out of choice, and becoming more powerful out of necessity.

Now that may hinder my ability to identify how fuzzy that line is for others, but for me it's very fuzzy. But I understand that for others it may be less so.

Mr. Mask
2014-08-21, 01:40 PM
The traits and flaws thing kind of reminds me of Crusader Kings. Even if it was only a -2, the information and interest it provided made it worthwhile. Of coure, the information aspect is important, as that +2 being because they're your son tells you more about how your other sons will behave, etc..

the OOD
2014-08-21, 03:28 PM
how is there only one mention of fate in this thread?
fate is the poster child for flaws done right, and the near-seamless marriage of roleplay and mechanics. you can spend fate points to invoke aspects for a bonus (taking advantage of your opponent's hurt knee, using the fact that you don't scare easy, or the councilwoman's quick temper to make here lose face).
how do you get fate points? by having your aspects invoked against you(or invoking them against yourself). (due to my loyalty to friends I am going to follow him in, even though I know it's a bad idea. I cast a fire spell, but because of my the building is on fire and it's not my fault aspect, I accidentally light the factory on fire, now gimme my fate point. I could wait for back up, but I will chase him, wounded, through the castle. why? because you killed my father, prepare to die.)

It is the most well-realized system that I have ever seen, almost completely erases the line between game and roleplay. (but falls *very* short if the players aren't interested is a roleplay-heavy game.)

it's good, go check it out.

NichG
2014-08-21, 08:12 PM
Well your point was "this produces an arm's race ergo it's bad" which means that there are inherently two claims in your statement the first that that particular meta-game effect is producing an arm's race. Which I've said is certainly possible although I wouldn't necessarily argue that in all situations it'll be the case. I've been addressing your second implicit assertion, that "Arms Races are inherently negative". That was what I was addressing. Because for the fact that it can produce an Arm's Race to be negative, then Arms Race's have to be bad themselves, and I don't agree with that.


My point was 'this produces a metagame arms race, ergo its bad'. I would say that those strictly do not 'help roleplay', which is the condition set by the thread (personal tastes about whether or not metagame arms races are enjoyable completely aside).



It isn't because of a balance reason. I think this is where we're moving past each other, the fact that the player takes a flaw means that they want this particular behavior to in some way affect their character. The reason they pick a particular flaw deals with the sort of affect they have. So it is not unreasonable to have that flaw have an affect.

The problem is that you are looking at the world in the context of it it's simulative significance. I'm looking at the flaw in terms of it's narrative significance. If I say "I'm Overconfident" as part of my character description, and I spend an in-game resource on it. That means that I believe that this is a fundamental part of my character, and addressing that should bring the character a deeper and more meaningful narrative.

If the player takes a flaw and then takes actions to make sure the flaw doesn't matter, then I don't think you can argue that 'the fact that the player takes a flaw means they want this particular behavior to in some way affect their character'. And that is the particular circumstance that was being discussed, because you suggested that the DM should basically force the flaw to matter by having the world itself conspire to prevent the player from getting away with doing that. But clearly here you and the player are coming at things with very different purposes in mind.

If a player takes a -1 AC flaw and uses it to buy a +4 AC feat, you're saying 'the player wants to be vulnerable due to his overconfidence', but clearly this player doesn't care about the flaw and is just nabbing the free feat. And that's fine! But that player is going to be very pissed off when 'I want to have +3 AC' is interpreted as 'I sometimes want to have -1 AC', and is going to feel personally singled out by the DM's behavior.


Well in those cases there is very little advancement at all. I'm saying that the problem is that Arm's Races will exist at any level of spread at all. Any difference in character power is going to potentially breed resentment. Which means that you can't deal with it at a design level. You can deal with the "I advance from a humble peasant to Cthulu Punching Dragonsmasher Extraordinaire" or "I start out as a grizzled veteran and that's how I'll die" But that's addressing progress not disparity of power. Take a look at 4E, there's even clear power disparity there, and that was one of their stated design goals. Because player skill is impossible to account for, and degree of resentment that will be introduced by small differences is impossible to factor in, because it's too varied.


This fallacy does have a name - its called the Excluded Middle: 'Because I can't completely fix something means that my only choice is to completely embrace it'.



The thing is that I'm not thinking of how to counter it every encounter. I'm thinking "how do I make this meaningful sometimes and not more meaningful than everybody else" One way to do that is to create encounters that those problems don't solve. Also notably you can kill zero Balors a round, since they're immune to Fire Damage. So the thing a DM needs to do is examine "how relevant that ability is, and how often does it come up", if it comes up constantly then they may need to occasionally build encounters that make it less relevant, if the reverse is true, then the DM may need to make encounters that make it more relevant.

You're missing the forest for the trees here. What does actually killing Balors have to do with the price of tea in Waterdeep?

'300hp' is a number, just like '3hp' is a number or '30000hp' is a number. However, both 3hp and 300hp are grounded in a wealth of examples of creatures that have roughly that many hitpoints. 300hp has meaning where 30000hp does not, because 30000hp is so far outside people's frame of reference that it loses all meaning.

When you get to the big numbers like that, you start to notice things like 'my combat performance is measured in terms not of how much damage I deal, but how many rounds it takes to end the battle; that number has not changed over the last 30 levels' or 'my resilience is measured in the number of hits I can completely ignore, because any hit I cannot ignore will effectively kill me in one shot'.

The first time you make a character that can do 300hp damage in one hit, its very exciting - 'dragons used to give me a hard time, but I can pick them off now!'. The first time you make a character that can do 3000hp damage in one hit, its amazing 'look how high I got this number!'. But when you then go on to make a character that can do 6000hp damage, you quickly realize that its exactly the same as the character that can do 3000hp damage. You've pushed your numbers high enough and fast enough that there isn't a consistent context built up around you with which to interpret their meaning, aside from 'this number is bigger than the other guy's'.

If you were to do that slowly, over the course of 100 sessions lets say, then that would be time for the DM to establish what kinds of creatures have 1000hp, what kind of creatures have 10000hp, etc. But if you do it too quickly then it becomes meaningless.


The line is very clear for any one individual. The line is less clear for any one group, and very fuzzy for different groups altogether. For me as an individual the line is pretty fuzzy. Because I don't care. For me it's functionally identical, so I don't even notice the line, I don't necessarily recognize the difference between becoming more powerful out of choice, and becoming more powerful out of necessity.

Now that may hinder my ability to identify how fuzzy that line is for others, but for me it's very fuzzy. But I understand that for others it may be less so.

The line has to do with the emotional state associated with the growth of power. If a player feels insecure about their ability to survive or participate meaningfully in the game, then its on the one side, otherwise its on the other.

AMFV
2014-08-22, 12:49 PM
My point was 'this produces a metagame arms race, ergo its bad'. I would say that those strictly do not 'help roleplay', which is the condition set by the thread (personal tastes about whether or not metagame arms races are enjoyable completely aside).


And my argument is that metagame Arm's Races can improve roleplay, often in unexpected ways. Although this is not universally the case it certainly can be. Particularly if you use the shifting mechanics to evolve your character, basically starting at the finished mechanical product and then going back to the fluff. Which produces a very different type of character and roleplay.



If the player takes a flaw and then takes actions to make sure the flaw doesn't matter, then I don't think you can argue that 'the fact that the player takes a flaw means they want this particular behavior to in some way affect their character'. And that is the particular circumstance that was being discussed, because you suggested that the DM should basically force the flaw to matter by having the world itself conspire to prevent the player from getting away with doing that. But clearly here you and the player are coming at things with very different purposes in mind.

I said that I wanted their choices to be meaningful. If the player later complained about that particular action, then I would point out that they had picked up a flaw, and that it should have meaning. What a player wants and what is appropriate for all games is not always equivalent. For me to enjoy the game as a DM or a player, character choices need to be valuable. Because that is a requirement I mention it to players while they are picking flaws. That's the reason that it is that way.



If a player takes a -1 AC flaw and uses it to buy a +4 AC feat, you're saying 'the player wants to be vulnerable due to his overconfidence', but clearly this player doesn't care about the flaw and is just nabbing the free feat. And that's fine! But that player is going to be very pissed off when 'I want to have +3 AC' is interpreted as 'I sometimes want to have -1 AC', and is going to feel personally singled out by the DM's behavior.

Well sometimes you don't always get what you want.



This fallacy does have a name - its called the Excluded Middle: 'Because I can't completely fix something means that my only choice is to completely embrace it'.

Well I'm not necessarily completely embracing it, I've pointed out that other alternatives are there. This isn't a case of "the system is the best for all cases", this is a case of "I think that this system can work fine as-is." That's not a fallacy that's an assessment. And it might not be able to work fine for every group.



You're missing the forest for the trees here. What does actually killing Balors have to do with the price of tea in Waterdeep?

It's a scenario where the ubercharger would be much better equipped than Mr 30K damage. So a scenario like that popping up or even being mentioned would be worthwhile



'300hp' is a number, just like '3hp' is a number or '30000hp' is a number. However, both 3hp and 300hp are grounded in a wealth of examples of creatures that have roughly that many hitpoints. 300hp has meaning where 30000hp does not, because 30000hp is so far outside people's frame of reference that it loses all meaning.

When you get to the big numbers like that, you start to notice things like 'my combat performance is measured in terms not of how much damage I deal, but how many rounds it takes to end the battle; that number has not changed over the last 30 levels' or 'my resilience is measured in the number of hits I can completely ignore, because any hit I cannot ignore will effectively kill me in one shot'.

The first time you make a character that can do 300hp damage in one hit, its very exciting - 'dragons used to give me a hard time, but I can pick them off now!'. The first time you make a character that can do 3000hp damage in one hit, its amazing 'look how high I got this number!'. But when you then go on to make a character that can do 6000hp damage, you quickly realize that its exactly the same as the character that can do 3000hp damage. You've pushed your numbers high enough and fast enough that there isn't a consistent context built up around you with which to interpret their meaning, aside from 'this number is bigger than the other guy's'.

If you were to do that slowly, over the course of 100 sessions lets say, then that would be time for the DM to establish what kinds of creatures have 1000hp, what kind of creatures have 10000hp, etc. But if you do it too quickly then it becomes meaningless.

Well that seems like an issue in the DM and player's relative values system, not necessarily an issue with the numbers involved




The line has to do with the emotional state associated with the growth of power. If a player feels insecure about their ability to survive or participate meaningfully in the game, then its on the one side, otherwise its on the other.

Well then I stand by my statement. A game can be on either end and be fine. In CoC for example you should question your meaningful actions. In Old School ToH you should feel desperate and helpless.

NichG
2014-08-22, 07:54 PM
And my argument is that metagame Arm's Races can improve roleplay, often in unexpected ways. Although this is not universally the case it certainly can be. Particularly if you use the shifting mechanics to evolve your character, basically starting at the finished mechanical product and then going back to the fluff. Which produces a very different type of character and roleplay.

I would say that you have failed to provide any evidence or real argument for how having your character choices be driven by an OOC player-based emotional response independent of the character's stated personality is actually improving the roleplay. All you're showing is 'the characters driven by metagame concerns will be very different' - well of course they will, but that doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the roleplay experience at all, that just means 'different is different' - a tautology.



I said that I wanted their choices to be meaningful. If the player later complained about that particular action, then I would point out that they had picked up a flaw, and that it should have meaning. What a player wants and what is appropriate for all games is not always equivalent. For me to enjoy the game as a DM or a player, character choices need to be valuable. Because that is a requirement I mention it to players while they are picking flaws. That's the reason that it is that way.

Well sometimes you don't always get what you want.


Just because you want something as the DM doesn't actually mean that forcing it to happen will improve the game. You might really want to bury X's character under 90000 tons of rock for mouthing off against you, but 'rocks fall, X dies' is nonetheless going to make the game much less fun for X. Pushing your own personal tastes on your players is liable to do the same unless you only game with people who are exactly like you in their tastes (which is possible if you're extremely selective on your players, but its hardly generalizable advice).



Well I'm not necessarily completely embracing it, I've pointed out that other alternatives are there. This isn't a case of "the system is the best for all cases", this is a case of "I think that this system can work fine as-is." That's not a fallacy that's an assessment. And it might not be able to work fine for every group.

Its not the system that I'm questioning here, as by default D&D doesn't ask the DM to try to make each flaw relevant. Its the stance about actively designing the world to create circumstances where each minor flaws is forced to be relevant (even in very roundabout ways). I'm questioning it because it severely exaggerates problems that are already present in small, manageable amounts in the system, and for no real gain.



It's a scenario where the ubercharger would be much better equipped than Mr 30K damage. So a scenario like that popping up or even being mentioned would be worthwhile


But nothing I'm saying about the Balor has anything at all to do with Ubercharger vs Mr. 30k. Its a complete non-sequiteur. The entire point about the Balor is that its hitpoint total is a meterstick that damage can be measured against to give it meaning. Its totally irrelevant whether or not the Balor is immune to fire, whether Mr. 30k could kill it more or less easily than the ubercharger, etc.



Well that seems like an issue in the DM and player's relative values system, not necessarily an issue with the numbers involved


Its not the relative values system, its an understanding of how experiences within the game shapes a player's feelings about gaming in general. And its a path I've been down enough to know that the results are generalizable, and aren't just a consequence of the personality of the ubercharger. I've been in two campaigns with 'divergent numbers' like this, and run two myself, so I've observed this kind of thing happen across a dozen or so different players. Its a little different - not everyone can be introspective about what's going on to their perception of the game - but its clearly repeatable. If things grow too fast then you cross a threshold where things begin to lose meaning to the players, and they lose investment with the game. Those 'things' could be numbers or it could be the in-game situation, or various other things.


Well then I stand by my statement. A game can be on either end and be fine. In CoC for example you should question your meaningful actions. In Old School ToH you should feel desperate and helpless.

A player driven by the far end of the line in ToH may well try to flood the Tomb and call it a day, or will nuke it from orbit, or will try to pursue some other form of escalation that, in the end, removes the actual 'play' part of the game.

AMFV
2014-08-22, 10:03 PM
I would say that you have failed to provide any evidence or real argument for how having your character choices be driven by an OOC player-based emotional response independent of the character's stated personality is actually improving the roleplay. All you're showing is 'the characters driven by metagame concerns will be very different' - well of course they will, but that doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the roleplay experience at all, that just means 'different is different' - a tautology.

I did say that in my experience that can improve the roleplay for me. Which in an argument driven by anecdote and personal experience should be exactly as valid as your claims that it doesn't for you. I suspect though in the large part it won't have a demonstrable positive or negative effect. Also I don't see any real evidence for your claims that it is a negative.



Just because you want something as the DM doesn't actually mean that forcing it to happen will improve the game. You might really want to bury X's character under 90000 tons of rock for mouthing off against you, but 'rocks fall, X dies' is nonetheless going to make the game much less fun for X. Pushing your own personal tastes on your players is liable to do the same unless you only game with people who are exactly like you in their tastes (which is possible if you're extremely selective on your players, but its hardly generalizable advice).

When players take flaws I inform them that I intend for those to be meaningful to their characters. I don't see where you're getting this image that I'm trying to be retributive against power-mongering players. Because really all I've said is that I adjust my games around players who try to obtain additional power, typically by using the rules, and well within the rules. Generally, for me at least, if I have to construct a fiat solution, I will discuss it with the player in order to make sure that they don't feel it's unfair or that it's not making the game fun for them.

If creating diverse encounters to challenge players is "forcing a flaw into relevance" then yes, I do that. If constructing encounters that sometimes target player weakness is, then also it's the same. I do both, I want some fights to challenge player's weak areas and others to be defined by their strengths. That's just good DMing. Producing a variety of encounters where different characters can shine.



Its not the system that I'm questioning here, as by default D&D doesn't ask the DM to try to make each flaw relevant. Its the stance about actively designing the world to create circumstances where each minor flaws is forced to be relevant (even in very roundabout ways). I'm questioning it because it severely exaggerates problems that are already present in small, manageable amounts in the system, and for no real gain.

I don't force every minor flaw to be continually relevant, and I do redesign the world around the players. They are after all the focus of the story. As such it's my job to make sure that they have appropriate challenges. If I have a party of all-mundane characters with no-flight, I'm not going to have them be constantly fighting Griffons and Dragons, even if that would be acceptable as far as CR and the rules go. I build encounters to be challenging enough that players feel it, but not so much that it overwhelms them. Furthermore I do take player choices into account. If a player takes a beneficial route, we'll say your earlier ubercharger. Then at least some portion of fights will consist of an enemy he can one-shot, allowing him his chance to shine. If he took a flaw to make himself more vulnerable to damage, then he'll occasionally get hit in doing so. It's all about building that narrative around the players.



But nothing I'm saying about the Balor has anything at all to do with Ubercharger vs Mr. 30k. Its a complete non-sequiteur. The entire point about the Balor is that its hitpoint total is a meterstick that damage can be measured against to give it meaning. Its totally irrelevant whether or not the Balor is immune to fire, whether Mr. 30k could kill it more or less easily than the ubercharger, etc.


But he couldn't. The point being that Ubercharger guy is going to be a lot more relevant in a lot of fights, particularly over a damage focused spellcaster (since a lot of their tricks can be negated. The point is that the OOC bragging could have been shut down by pointing that out, without even having to do it in game.



Its not the relative values system, its an understanding of how experiences within the game shapes a player's feelings about gaming in general. And its a path I've been down enough to know that the results are generalizable, and aren't just a consequence of the personality of the ubercharger. I've been in two campaigns with 'divergent numbers' like this, and run two myself, so I've observed this kind of thing happen across a dozen or so different players. Its a little different - not everyone can be introspective about what's going on to their perception of the game - but its clearly repeatable. If things grow too fast then you cross a threshold where things begin to lose meaning to the players, and they lose investment with the game. Those 'things' could be numbers or it could be the in-game situation, or various other things.

Not necessarily. And it's quite possible to continue to construct encounters that are worthwhile, by varying the style and nature of encounters. If you have an ubercharger, then occasionally have them fight large groups. Where even if they can one-shot kill almost anything, that's not going to be that significant. And then occasionally have them have moments where they shine, it's really not as hard as you are making it out to be. It's mostly instinctive, encounter design should be varied to prevent that sort of problem.

I don't mean to say this, but is it possible that this is an issue with the style of game you play in? I mean that's certainly possible. My experience has been that with creative enough encounters you can keep the immersion pretty heavily going, because while the numbers may not always matter, the character should be able to contribute, and sometimes not, in order to build highs and lows. The problem is when you focus on either destroying the character's ability by consistently targeting it, or you never do. Both extremes produce the effect you're describing.



A player driven by the far end of the line in ToH may well try to flood the Tomb and call it a day, or will nuke it from orbit, or will try to pursue some other form of escalation that, in the end, removes the actual 'play' part of the game.

And flooding the Tomb would have some serious consequences as well. Furthermore many people have slogged through the tomb, trying to beat it that way is basically saying: "I'd like to play a different game" which is fine, but that's a matter of taste. If you destroy the ToH from Orbit you can't brag about having defeated it with much effort, and that takes away the sweetness of the victory.

NichG
2014-08-23, 12:36 AM
I did say that in my experience that can improve the roleplay for me. Which in an argument driven by anecdote and personal experience should be exactly as valid as your claims that it doesn't for you. I suspect though in the large part it won't have a demonstrable positive or negative effect. Also I don't see any real evidence for your claims that it is a negative.

You've yet to explain how causing people to make decisions that are expressly driven by out of character emotions and conflicts actually improves in-character roleplay. So as I see it, you've not provided either evidence or explanation. All you've said is 'no, I like this' which isn't actually a debate or claim. The situation is manifestly metagamey and furthermore you aren't disputing that fact, so the burden of proof is on you. Its also necessary for you to provide precise definitions of what you actually mean by terms, since its pretty clear that you're using them in a different way than the usual (e.g. does 'roleplaying' in your statements mean 'anything that makes me invested in the game'? Does it mean '(accurately) portraying a character who is not me'?)



When players take flaws I inform them that I intend for those to be meaningful to their characters. I don't see where you're getting this image that I'm trying to be retributive against power-mongering players. Because really all I've said is that I adjust my games around players who try to obtain additional power, typically by using the rules, and well within the rules. Generally, for me at least, if I have to construct a fiat solution, I will discuss it with the player in order to make sure that they don't feel it's unfair or that it's not making the game fun for them.

If creating diverse encounters to challenge players is "forcing a flaw into relevance" then yes, I do that. If constructing encounters that sometimes target player weakness is, then also it's the same. I do both, I want some fights to challenge player's weak areas and others to be defined by their strengths. That's just good DMing. Producing a variety of encounters where different characters can shine.


Doing something specifically in order to 'not let the player get away with making their flaw irrelevant' is retributive. E.g. if I take a -1AC flaw and then a +4 AC feat that applies whenever I am both a Monk and a Sorceror (which I am), then deciding that in order to make the -1AC flaw meaningful you have to hit me with a Helm of Opposite Alignment, then that's retributive. If you just use enemies that sometimes have attacks that target Reflex saves rather than AC, that's business as usual because, assumedly, you aren't doing that because I negated my penalty but just because of general diversity concerns (e.g. you'd do that anyhow).


If he took a flaw to make himself more vulnerable to damage, then he'll occasionally get hit in doing so. It's all about building that narrative around the players.

The question is, what do you do if he took a flaw to make himself more vulnerable to damage and then immediately used that flaw to buy resistances that not only negated the vulnerability but made him more resistant to damage on the whole?



But he couldn't. The point being that Ubercharger guy is going to be a lot more relevant in a lot of fights, particularly over a damage focused spellcaster (since a lot of their tricks can be negated. The point is that the OOC bragging could have been shut down by pointing that out, without even having to do it in game.


I will repeat myself for a third time. The Balor example has nothing to do with the Ubercharger and the 30k wizard competing with eachother.

The point, again, is that a Balor - or a dragon, or a kobold, or a wyvern - represents a specific hitpoint total that is meaningful by association with a particular creature. If I can hit AC 40, that means something particular in the kinds of creatures I can and can't hit. If I can do 250 damage, its enough to kill some things in one shot but not others. The relationship between the numbers and the world is what gives numbers any meaning at all. When you zoom out to 15000hp this, 30000hp that, 3700000hp the other thing, then those numbers lose their points of reference and become much less meaningful. The result is that in general that particular part of the game becomes less rewarding to people.

3700000hp damage can be meaningful, but for it to do so the players have to be familiar with particular things that have more than 3700000hp and other things that have less than 3700000hp. That way, they can make statements like 'if I get to 3700000 damage per round, maybe we can defeat A'tuin!'. Or 'the DM said that walls of force actually just have 1hp and 5000000 points of universal damage soak, so if we can do 5 million and 1 damage we can get into the temple'. Yes, these things sound insane (that's kind of the point, because 4 million and 15000 are both numbers which are so far beyond the original design range of D&D that they're basically equivalent), but if you want them to be meaningful then that kind of thing is what you have to do.

A fast-paced arms race gives you much less game time in which to establish those benchmarks. Given 20 sessions, I can get the players used to the idea that a certain kind of living space-ship has hitpoint values in the 10k range, for example, so if they do significantly less than that then their primary tactic must be boarding and attacking the internal systems, but if they do damage in the 1000s range they can just go head to head with the ship. This gives a meaning to the exercise of figuring out how to get 1000 damage/round out of a D&D character.



I don't mean to say this, but is it possible that this is an issue with the style of game you play in? I mean that's certainly possible. My experience has been that with creative enough encounters you can keep the immersion pretty heavily going, because while the numbers may not always matter, the character should be able to contribute, and sometimes not, in order to build highs and lows. The problem is when you focus on either destroying the character's ability by consistently targeting it, or you never do. Both extremes produce the effect you're describing.


We can compare monster notes if you like, and you can judge for yourself.


Physically appears to be a bipedal scorpion with a 10ft long,
stingered tail lodged in its own back, with the tip protruding from
the chest and dripping poison. Wields the Mirror of Revelation and the
Flame of Desire.

40HD; 941/4000hp.

Stats:
18 Str (+4)
32 Dex (+11)
30 Con (+10)
14 Int (+2)
22 Wis (+6)
46 Cha (+18)

Saves: +20/+21/+46
AC: 10 + 10 (NA) + 11 (Dex) + 18 (Cha) = 49 (39 Touch, 38 Flat)

Traitor's Gate: Charisma to AC applies only in rounds in which you do not
damage an ally.

- Friendly Fire: Avoidance II (*: These are redirects towards allies)
- Speed Rank I
- Vulnerable to Water (50%)
- Immune to Fire
- Does not Crit Fail saves
- Immune to Poison, Sneak Attack/Backstab

Movement: Light-based teleportation effect, leaves behind a mirage.

Attacks:
- Stinger: Attacks at +60/+45/+30/+15/+0 with a 15ft reach,
dealing piercing damage equal to 1d12+6, 2d12+12, 4d12+24, 8d12+48,
and 16d12+96 respectively. Hits also cause 1,2,4,8,and 16 points of
Bleed respectively. Fort save DC 40 poison, causes 1d4 Wis damage.

- Flames of Desire: Ranged touch attacks (250ft range);
+60/+45/+30/+15/+0 to hit. Damage dealt is 4d6, 4d12, 4d20, 4d50, and
4d100 fire damage respectively, but the target may (before knowing the
result of the attack sequence) opt to gain 500xp for every factor of 2
they allow the (full attack's worth of) damage to be multiplied by.

- Searing Truth Ray: Ranged touch attacks (1 mile range); 1 attack per
round; target must reveal a dark secret/betrayal to an ally or they take
400 Light damage.

- Twisting Aura: Allies within eachother's reach and also within 30ft of the
creature attack eachother instead of the creature.

Special Abilities (3 point pool)
- Mirror of Revelation (costs 1): Each enemy finds themselves facing
an ally of theirs who wants to betray them.
- Flame of Desire (costs 1): Target gains something they truly want if
they kill an ally this fight.
- Paranoia (costs 0): Every time an ally makes an attack roll this round,
target takes 10 untyped damage.
- Betrayal (costs 0; Signature power): Causes an NPC to betray a
friend, no save.
- Traitor's Gate
- Friendly Fire
- Friendly Fire 2
- Crushing Guilt (costs 0; Signature power): All characters on the
field that have damaged an ally this round take as much damage
themselves.
- Self-Betrayal (costs 0): Inflicts huge auto-immune disorders on
target, causing all of their abilities to turn against themselves.
Reverses up to Dura 1 (Dura 2 if spending 1 Dust) into
vulnerabilities; Resistances become extra damage taken.
- Betrayal of Belongings (costs 1): An item becomes under the control
of the Twisting Worm.
- Possession (costs 0): The Twisting Worm can hide within a host, as
per ghost possession.


They fought that guy near the end of my last campaign, along with one of his friends


Yagya, Lieutenant of Sacrifice

2000hp

AC 50/50/30

She has a defensive field that blocks 100hp of damage from each
attack, which may be bypassed by choosing to permanently lose 1hp or
giving other sacrifices.

If she voluntarily lowers the field or any of her defenses without
them being proactively dropped, she gains a permanent stacking +5 to
hit her attacker. This can be used to preserve her satellites.

Each round Yagya summons three satellites (smaller moths) that intercept
attacks against her, effectively granting Avoidance 3. If
they are not destroyed the satellite moths can heal her for 150hp each
every round.

Yagya's attacks deal damage based on how much they hit by (each 1 over
deals +2 damage) and she starts with a +25/+20/+15/+10/+5/+0 attack sequence.
Her physical attacks take the form of clouds of dust that are in reality tiny
microscopic daggers (deals 2d6+20+Bonus slashing damage). This attack
deals 5 points of Bleed.

Yagya's special powers:

- Burnt Offering. Flames leap up across the field. Any who choose to
suffer damage from them (bypassing resists) may gain a bonus to hit Yagya
equal to half the damage they take (per attack).

- Satellite Nova. If Yagya's satellites all survive one round, Yagya
may send them to explode amongst the party, creating a 100ft radius
blast that deals 200 Wood damage (Reflex DC 45 halves).

- Moth dust aura. Yagya is surrounded by a 20ft fog of Mist II when
she moves.

- Blood Sacrifice. Yagya can perform a spell when at least 20 points
of Bleed is present on the field. Each point of Bleed is transformed
into a venomous serpent that bursts from the afflicted's wounds. These
serpents can spit poison at +15 to touch, dealing 2d6 acid damage and
provoking a DC 30 Fort save versus Blindness.

Special flaws:

- Any who are willing to die to kill her (even if this can be
reversed) are granted such a trade.

- Anyone can take 1.5x the damage/effect from any of Yagya's attacks
in order to redirect it from someone else to themselves.




And flooding the Tomb would have some serious consequences as well. Furthermore many people have slogged through the tomb, trying to beat it that way is basically saying: "I'd like to play a different game" which is fine, but that's a matter of taste. If you destroy the ToH from Orbit you can't brag about having defeated it with much effort, and that takes away the sweetness of the victory.

More importantly, ending the meaningful gameplay for that night.

AMFV
2014-08-23, 10:08 AM
You've yet to explain how causing people to make decisions that are expressly driven by out of character emotions and conflicts actually improves in-character roleplay. So as I see it, you've not provided either evidence or explanation. All you've said is 'no, I like this' which isn't actually a debate or claim. The situation is manifestly metagamey and furthermore you aren't disputing that fact, so the burden of proof is on you. Its also necessary for you to provide precise definitions of what you actually mean by terms, since its pretty clear that you're using them in a different way than the usual (e.g. does 'roleplaying' in your statements mean 'anything that makes me invested in the game'? Does it mean '(accurately) portraying a character who is not me'?)

But I have, I've stated earlier that because it incites character growth (mechanical growth is after all growth) it then incites roleplay growth because the character needs to develop or explain the mechanical shifts. Which for me causes roleplay, it forces roleplay in a particular direction but that's better than stagnation. Roleplaying means portraying a character who is not me, however accurate or not that may be. If your character changes for reasons that are outside of what is in-world, that then needs to be explained in world.

Edit: Let me provide you with an in-game example. We'll say that Mr 30K, encounters an enemy that is immune to fire right before leveling up, this makes him unable to properly contribute to the encounter since his powers are all thematically fire related. (I don't know that was actually the case, but we'll say it was). So he levels up. He has two options if he wants to remain relevant in a world where Fire Resistance and Immunity is becoming increasingly common. He can take Searing Spell, or he can learn some non-fire spells. In either case next session the character is able to damage something that's fire-resistant, after he wasn't. Presumably after some training or thought. This means that the character is no longer mechanically consistent with the previous character being roleplayed. And that needs to be addressed in the roleplay. Has he lost his lifelong love of fire, has utility finally overcome the heat of his passions? Has he studied Ancient and Forbidden techniques to produce a fire so hot that it could burn all things, not just those that burn normally? There are of course more answers to this, but it produces growth for the character because the mechanical inconsistency will need to be explained in-world.

See I think the problem is that you typically build the mechanics from your desired fluff, at least from how your designed monsters are. Whereas I go both ways. Sometimes I'll start with the fluff, and say "What mechanics can I use to represent this?" And sometimes I'll start with the mechanics, "I've devised a monster that will produce an interesting challenge for the players mechanically, now I need to explain why it has these abilities and why it exists the way it does" The same thing holds true for me as a player.



Doing something specifically in order to 'not let the player get away with making their flaw irrelevant' is retributive. E.g. if I take a -1AC flaw and then a +4 AC feat that applies whenever I am both a Monk and a Sorceror (which I am), then deciding that in order to make the -1AC flaw meaningful you have to hit me with a Helm of Opposite Alignment, then that's retributive. If you just use enemies that sometimes have attacks that target Reflex saves rather than AC, that's business as usual because, assumedly, you aren't doing that because I negated my penalty but just because of general diversity concerns (e.g. you'd do that anyhow).

The point is that I want no choices to be irrelevant. So I build the game around player choices. So yes, I would make a flaw relevant in that manner. And I specifically tailor the game to target player weaknesses and to emphasize their strengths. Because they are the protagonists.

The Helm of Opposite Alignment might be needlessly retributive (depending on character arc), I wouldn't target a character with something like that, since that it isn't really my style. I would be likely to target them with damaging monsters or with ways to negate the abilities temporarily. It depends on the wording of the flaw.

Furthermore when a player takes a flaw, I inform them of this. So they aren't making the decision regarding the flaw in a vacuum. Because that's how flaws operate in the games I run. And this is something people are made aware of. To be honest, in my experience, it's very rare that a flaw can be negated completely to the point where it's never relevant. The -1 AC flaw is probably one of the only ones that could be, and even that would requires techniques that might not always be present.



The question is, what do you do if he took a flaw to make himself more vulnerable to damage and then immediately used that flaw to buy resistances that not only negated the vulnerability but made him more resistant to damage on the whole?


It would depend on his methodology. I would strive to make his choices meaningful in some way. But without specifics I can't say for sure what way that would be. I wouldn't just "turn off" his benefits on a regular basis, but I might occasionally, depending again on how he performed that feat. For me what matters is that choices become meaningful narratively.



I will repeat myself for a third time. The Balor example has nothing to do with the Ubercharger and the 30k wizard competing with eachother.

If you are running monsters as a pile of HP that means that you are not using their resistances properly, and no wonder those players think of monsters in terms of DPR and HP totals. Or giving them alternative defenses.



The point, again, is that a Balor - or a dragon, or a kobold, or a wyvern - represents a specific hitpoint total that is meaningful by association with a particular creature. If I can hit AC 40, that means something particular in the kinds of creatures I can and can't hit. If I can do 250 damage, its enough to kill some things in one shot but not others. The relationship between the numbers and the world is what gives numbers any meaning at all. When you zoom out to 15000hp this, 30000hp that, 3700000hp the other thing, then those numbers lose their points of reference and become much less meaningful. The result is that in general that particular part of the game becomes less rewarding to people.

3700000hp damage can be meaningful, but for it to do so the players have to be familiar with particular things that have more than 3700000hp and other things that have less than 3700000hp. That way, they can make statements like 'if I get to 3700000 damage per round, maybe we can defeat A'tuin!'. Or 'the DM said that walls of force actually just have 1hp and 5000000 points of universal damage soak, so if we can do 5 million and 1 damage we can get into the temple'. Yes, these things sound insane (that's kind of the point, because 4 million and 15000 are both numbers which are so far beyond the original design range of D&D that they're basically equivalent), but if you want them to be meaningful then that kind of thing is what you have to do.

A fast-paced arms race gives you much less game time in which to establish those benchmarks. Given 20 sessions, I can get the players used to the idea that a certain kind of living space-ship has hitpoint values in the 10k range, for example, so if they do significantly less than that then their primary tactic must be boarding and attacking the internal systems, but if they do damage in the 1000s range they can just go head to head with the ship. This gives a meaning to the exercise of figuring out how to get 1000 damage/round out of a D&D character.

Which is why you would create monsters that have ways of surviving a single hit of even near infinite damage. In 3.5 Mad Foam Rager is one of my favorite tricks to this end. Or having large amounts of monsters. The key is to target your encounter to your players. Not to build monsters that cannot be defeated. If I want a monster to be a very intense combat, I'll design it to last 6 rounds (or 4-5 depending) and aim for it to be able to down PCs in about 3 hits, meaning that it should spread it's damage around, and potentially almost kill somebody in a round. That's of course for a high threat type fight.

It is your responsibility not to make all of the numbers meaningful but to make the tactical choices meaningful behind those numbers. That's what I was getting at with the Balor example. Typically a high damage character revolves around a particular trick. Such as charging, which is very easy to make less or more valid, or damage of a specific type (also easy to make less or more valid, albeit less so). If you want a fight with 5 on 1 to be dramatic you have to give the monster a way to break the action economy (Thrall of Demogorgon is one of my favorites here), often combined with a couple of other tricks. But the key is again to make it so that the player choices are meaningful.

If a player builds a character to do 126x10^128d6 damage (somewhere around the Hulking Hurler record, but I'm not going to look it up, since it's well buried now). But in any case a level of damage that is impossibly high, then they need to learn that damage isn't everything. Wind Wall stops the Hurler dead, which means that in a few fights (1/3 probably) there should be Wind Wall or similar defense, Deflect Arrows could be amusing (although I'm not sure if that would work or not). Then in the other 1/3 of fights, he should have to face many opponents, which will give him the opportunity to be useful but his signature ability won't dominate the game. In the final third or thereabouts he should face enemies that have significant defense but are vulnerable to his ability. A Monster with Mad Foam Rager for example could ignore one attack and then be vulnerable, that sort of thing, where you are constructing a challenge that is meaningfully making his ability harder to use consistently without making it impossible to use. Other good choices are the maneuver that trades out Sense Motive for AC.



We can compare monster notes if you like, and you can judge for yourself.


Physically appears to be a bipedal scorpion with a 10ft long,
stingered tail lodged in its own back, with the tip protruding from
the chest and dripping poison. Wields the Mirror of Revelation and the
Flame of Desire.

40HD; 941/4000hp.

Stats:
18 Str (+4)
32 Dex (+11)
30 Con (+10)
14 Int (+2)
22 Wis (+6)
46 Cha (+18)

Saves: +20/+21/+46
AC: 10 + 10 (NA) + 11 (Dex) + 18 (Cha) = 49 (39 Touch, 38 Flat)

Traitor's Gate: Charisma to AC applies only in rounds in which you do not
damage an ally.

- Friendly Fire: Avoidance II (*: These are redirects towards allies)
- Speed Rank I
- Vulnerable to Water (50%)
- Immune to Fire
- Does not Crit Fail saves
- Immune to Poison, Sneak Attack/Backstab

Movement: Light-based teleportation effect, leaves behind a mirage.

Attacks:
- Stinger: Attacks at +60/+45/+30/+15/+0 with a 15ft reach,
dealing piercing damage equal to 1d12+6, 2d12+12, 4d12+24, 8d12+48,
and 16d12+96 respectively. Hits also cause 1,2,4,8,and 16 points of
Bleed respectively. Fort save DC 40 poison, causes 1d4 Wis damage.

- Flames of Desire: Ranged touch attacks (250ft range);
+60/+45/+30/+15/+0 to hit. Damage dealt is 4d6, 4d12, 4d20, 4d50, and
4d100 fire damage respectively, but the target may (before knowing the
result of the attack sequence) opt to gain 500xp for every factor of 2
they allow the (full attack's worth of) damage to be multiplied by.

- Searing Truth Ray: Ranged touch attacks (1 mile range); 1 attack per
round; target must reveal a dark secret/betrayal to an ally or they take
400 Light damage.

- Twisting Aura: Allies within eachother's reach and also within 30ft of the
creature attack eachother instead of the creature.

Special Abilities (3 point pool)
- Mirror of Revelation (costs 1): Each enemy finds themselves facing
an ally of theirs who wants to betray them.
- Flame of Desire (costs 1): Target gains something they truly want if
they kill an ally this fight.
- Paranoia (costs 0): Every time an ally makes an attack roll this round,
target takes 10 untyped damage.
- Betrayal (costs 0; Signature power): Causes an NPC to betray a
friend, no save.
- Traitor's Gate
- Friendly Fire
- Friendly Fire 2
- Crushing Guilt (costs 0; Signature power): All characters on the
field that have damaged an ally this round take as much damage
themselves.
- Self-Betrayal (costs 0): Inflicts huge auto-immune disorders on
target, causing all of their abilities to turn against themselves.
Reverses up to Dura 1 (Dura 2 if spending 1 Dust) into
vulnerabilities; Resistances become extra damage taken.
- Betrayal of Belongings (costs 1): An item becomes under the control
of the Twisting Worm.
- Possession (costs 0): The Twisting Worm can hide within a host, as
per ghost possession.


They fought that guy near the end of my last campaign, along with one of his friends


Yagya, Lieutenant of Sacrifice

2000hp

AC 50/50/30

She has a defensive field that blocks 100hp of damage from each
attack, which may be bypassed by choosing to permanently lose 1hp or
giving other sacrifices.

If she voluntarily lowers the field or any of her defenses without
them being proactively dropped, she gains a permanent stacking +5 to
hit her attacker. This can be used to preserve her satellites.

Each round Yagya summons three satellites (smaller moths) that intercept
attacks against her, effectively granting Avoidance 3. If
they are not destroyed the satellite moths can heal her for 150hp each
every round.

Yagya's attacks deal damage based on how much they hit by (each 1 over
deals +2 damage) and she starts with a +25/+20/+15/+10/+5/+0 attack sequence.
Her physical attacks take the form of clouds of dust that are in reality tiny
microscopic daggers (deals 2d6+20+Bonus slashing damage). This attack
deals 5 points of Bleed.

Yagya's special powers:

- Burnt Offering. Flames leap up across the field. Any who choose to
suffer damage from them (bypassing resists) may gain a bonus to hit Yagya
equal to half the damage they take (per attack).

- Satellite Nova. If Yagya's satellites all survive one round, Yagya
may send them to explode amongst the party, creating a 100ft radius
blast that deals 200 Wood damage (Reflex DC 45 halves).

- Moth dust aura. Yagya is surrounded by a 20ft fog of Mist II when
she moves.

- Blood Sacrifice. Yagya can perform a spell when at least 20 points
of Bleed is present on the field. Each point of Bleed is transformed
into a venomous serpent that bursts from the afflicted's wounds. These
serpents can spit poison at +15 to touch, dealing 2d6 acid damage and
provoking a DC 30 Fort save versus Blindness.

Special flaws:

- Any who are willing to die to kill her (even if this can be
reversed) are granted such a trade.

- Anyone can take 1.5x the damage/effect from any of Yagya's attacks
in order to redirect it from someone else to themselves.




More importantly, ending the meaningful gameplay for that night.

I can't really give you notes since I don't know the player's statistics. Monsters in a vacuum are pretty useless. They look like they have interesting abilities, but I have no idea if they're good for the party or not. It does look like you and I have fairly similar approach though. Although you appear to build monsters to flavor and I typically build monsters (at least mechanically) to provide a specific challenge.

NichG
2014-08-23, 07:50 PM
But I have, I've stated earlier that because it incites character growth (mechanical growth is after all growth) it then incites roleplay growth because the character needs to develop or explain the mechanical shifts. Which for me causes roleplay, it forces roleplay in a particular direction but that's better than stagnation. Roleplaying means portraying a character who is not me, however accurate or not that may be. If your character changes for reasons that are outside of what is in-world, that then needs to be explained in world.

Edit: Let me provide you with an in-game example. We'll say that Mr 30K, encounters an enemy that is immune to fire right before leveling up, this makes him unable to properly contribute to the encounter since his powers are all thematically fire related. (I don't know that was actually the case, but we'll say it was). So he levels up. He has two options if he wants to remain relevant in a world where Fire Resistance and Immunity is becoming increasingly common. He can take Searing Spell, or he can learn some non-fire spells. In either case next session the character is able to damage something that's fire-resistant, after he wasn't. Presumably after some training or thought. This means that the character is no longer mechanically consistent with the previous character being roleplayed. And that needs to be addressed in the roleplay. Has he lost his lifelong love of fire, has utility finally overcome the heat of his passions? Has he studied Ancient and Forbidden techniques to produce a fire so hot that it could burn all things, not just those that burn normally? There are of course more answers to this, but it produces growth for the character because the mechanical inconsistency will need to be explained in-world.

Nah, this misrepresents the situation. Mr. 30k didn't actually ever use Delayed Blast Fireball for one thing. He pointed out, out of character, that his character had an ace up his sleeve in the form of being able to use this combo. Essentially he was holding back this trick in case things got very hairy. So the whole 'surfeit of fire immune creatures' or even the world adapting to his tactics would all be premature. The source of the arms race was the fact that the one player thought he was utterly optimized to the nines for damage output and had become very proud of being 'the damage guy', but someone else said 'oh, actually, I can do double that damage in a pinch if we need it, you know'. So there's no in-character push to become stronger in a particular way, its all just metagame.

The other thing is that the Delayed Blast Fireball wasn't actually part of any particular theme for Mr. 30k, it's just something he can do since DBF is a spell and so is Time Stop. If anything, his theme was 'secretly being Cthulhu, but outwardly appearing to just be a lascivious Mexican guy who got dropped into a fantasy world and did well for himself'; he actually had an Elder Evils-style manifestation happen on worlds which he visited - travelers would find that their journeys took 50% longer or shorter than expected for no apparent reason.

You say that the character 'needs to justify a change in mechanics', but actually in practice many if not most players don't feel that way. If they're playing a wizard who has been casting Fireball a lot, and then he switches to Cone of Cold because the party encounters fire-immune enemies, many players will just say 'eh, fireball wasn't working and I'm a wizard'. But when the push for things is purely OOC, then its even worse because the in-character justification is something like 'I want to have better AC than this other guy!' which is just random and nonsensical.

I would say that your problem is that you're running/playing in games where stagnation is a serious problem unless you create OOC stresses. The events within the game should be the way to break stagnation, because then that means that the entire decision process for the characters can be traced back to in-character causes, rather than leaving a big hole where the cause of the decision was 'my puppet-master decided he wanted a puppet with bigger numbers than his friend's'.



The point is that I want no choices to be irrelevant. So I build the game around player choices. So yes, I would make a flaw relevant in that manner. And I specifically tailor the game to target player weaknesses and to emphasize their strengths. Because they are the protagonists.

The Helm of Opposite Alignment might be needlessly retributive (depending on character arc), I wouldn't target a character with something like that, since that it isn't really my style. I would be likely to target them with damaging monsters or with ways to negate the abilities temporarily. It depends on the wording of the flaw.

Furthermore when a player takes a flaw, I inform them of this. So they aren't making the decision regarding the flaw in a vacuum. Because that's how flaws operate in the games I run. And this is something people are made aware of. To be honest, in my experience, it's very rare that a flaw can be negated completely to the point where it's never relevant. The -1 AC flaw is probably one of the only ones that could be, and even that would requires techniques that might not always be present.

Many flaws can be made irrelevant more easily than the AC one actually. For example:


Noncombattant is basically irrelevant for a caster, because casting spells in melee is already a bad idea and their non-casting-based melee is weak enough to be useless. So a -2 to melee attacks is basically something they can completely ignore.

Shaky is the same but for melee. A melee-based character with access to flight is already going to be unable to keep up using ranged, so soemthing that makes ranged even less of a good option won't make much of a difference.

Murky-Eyed is irrelevant on characters who have the ability to ignore concealment and plan to make use of that regularly anyhow (a couple methods: there's an item that lets you ignore concealment on one enemy/round, another item that's 2/day, and a relic that ignores all miss chances entirely; also the Seeking weapon enchantment for ranged weapons ignores concealment) Also, Blind-Fight plus Murky-Eyed is about the most annoying thing that someone can do with a Monk (roll 4 miss-chance dice for each attack, 8 attacks per round using flurry plus TWF plus Eagle's Claw and the like, so 32 extra dice to resolve an attack roll). But they have to be a jerk.

Slow is irrelevant on characters who will use fixed-speed always-on flight from some source (racial flight, the Fly spell, Ring of Solar's Wings, etc)

Inattentive is irrelevant on characters who are using an item familiar for their Spot/Listen checks (okay, thats kind of a niche case, but Item Familiar is a really good feat all around). To a lesser extent, it can be made irrelevant by taking a feat such as Chosen of Evil which allows one to gain fairly large bonuses on any skill check they choose at an easily reduced cost. The same is true for the three save-reducer flaws, since Chosen of Evil also can add to saves (and attack rolls, so it works for Shaky and Noncombattant as well!)




It would depend on his methodology. I would strive to make his choices meaningful in some way. But without specifics I can't say for sure what way that would be. I wouldn't just "turn off" his benefits on a regular basis, but I might occasionally, depending again on how he performed that feat. For me what matters is that choices become meaningful narratively.


Someone with Mithral Body and a high Dex as a Warforged takes the -1AC flaw to buy Mithral Fluidity, which increases their Max Dex by 1 and also removes 1 ACP for a net effect of -1ACP. What do you do?



If you are running monsters as a pile of HP that means that you are not using their resistances properly, and no wonder those players think of monsters in terms of DPR and HP totals. Or giving them alternative defenses.


I'm beginning to think you're intentionally avoiding the point I've been trying to make here, by instead constantly trying to make this about how the 30k wizard would kill the Balor (which is completely irrelevant and also incorrect, because Energy Substitution = done) instead of the actual thing I'm trying to discuss.

'What does it mean to do 30hp of damage in an attack?'
'What does it mean to do 3000hp of damage in an attack?'
'What does it mean to do 6000hp of damage in an attack?'

Please answer those questions.



Which is why you would create monsters that have ways of surviving a single hit of even near infinite damage.


This is precisely the kind of thing that makes damage lose its meaning. If it doesn't matter how much damage I do because the enemy can always survive a single hit due to metagame balance concerns, then the lesson I learn is 'how much damage I do doesn't matter'. If I've invested a lot of effort into raising my damage, I'm going to feel like that effort was wasted. I could have spent 1/10th of that effort and the DM would still have monsters that take about 3 blows to kill.

That hollowness is what happened to the 15k player. Neither he nor the 30k guy were one-shotting the monsters in the campaign, because as much as you like to speculate about my DMing, I actually do know what I'm doing as far as creating challenging encounters. But at the same time, things had gotten to the point where the 15k player realized that if he and the 30k player hadn't raced up as high as they did, and stopped at 500 and 1000 damage, then the game would probably be exactly the same. It removed the feeling of achievement from him for getting his numbers so high.

In one sense, that means he's free to move on to other things, and he's still playing in my games and is now making characters who are much more varied in what they can do - he's learned the truth of the game which is that versatility is the only real source of power. But at the same time, he was enjoying ramping up his numbers, and that disillusionment means that there's now something he can't really enjoy anymore that he used to. For me, ruining my players' ability to enjoy the things they like isn't a good outcome, even if in the long run they find other things to enjoy that are more stable.

(and incidentally, the reason Mr. 30k was able to just bust out 30k randomly without having specifically focused on tricks for it is that he built an incredibly versatile character who could with minor reconfigurations probably do just about any task; he was also the more experienced player, so he intentionally did not do that openly and usually restricted himself to certain kinds of things so that he didn't step on the other players toes, but the 30k thing came up in a debate about damage and he admitted after the fact that mentioning his abilities there was an error on his part)

I can see others of my players progressing down the same track at different rates, so yes, this is something I think about. In the long run, they may all end up being jaded veterans who understand where the real staying power is in the game, but I'm not doing them any favors if I hasten them to that endpoint.



I can't really give you notes since I don't know the player's statistics. Monsters in a vacuum are pretty useless. They look like they have interesting abilities, but I have no idea if they're good for the party or not. It does look like you and I have fairly similar approach though. Although you appear to build monsters to flavor and I typically build monsters (at least mechanically) to provide a specific challenge.

I can attempt to give a summary, but there's lots of custom stuff.


- One PC had a gimmick where he could die 7 times before it stuck, but he was otherwise mostly a tank. He had things to take attacks for other PCs. He actually ended up being permakilled by Sacrifice in that fight because he asked for too much XP using the '500xp for a doubling' mechanism and more of the attacks in the sequence ticked off lives than he expected. Lets call him 'secondary damage and tank'. He did maybe 300-400 damage per round.
- One PC was a damage cannon. However, his damage output depends on him standing in one place and making a sequence of blows (he basically gets to reserve a little damage from the last hit and apply it to the next). When he's at full swing he can do about 1k per round, but the teleporting enemy was jumping back and forth and making it hard for him to get up his head of steam.
- One PC was a versatility-based caster (player of the 15k guy) who could essentially do something with every element in the game and also every pairwise combination of elements (8 base elements in this game, so you can do the math). I think at that point was that he technically was the same creature-type as these enemies (beings of Myth), so he had particular gimmicks that were relevant to how their 'pool-based' abilities work. He could also do things like set up fields that would negate certain elemental types, etc. When he did damage, it was about 200-300/round.
- One PC was a ranged attacker with support side-abilities. She spent most of the fight using various one-off items and trying to pull off strange tricks (she had a gun which she could load with any item and fire off an attack from the weapon based on the ammo). She nearly one-shotted one of the guys with a very well-chosen bullet, but rolled a nat 1 on the attack and didn't have a way of negating it. Whe she did damage, it was about 200/round.
- One PC was the ultimate skill monkey - a Factotum-based build that could essentially add +60 or so to any skill check he chose given a little preparation. His main gimmick was Sleight of Hand. If I recall, I think he used the epic rules to actually make one of the enemies disappear briefly by Sleight-of-Handing them elsewhere. He was also very squishy though, so he mostly tried to avoid being too noticeable in the fight and instead spent the time trying to find and talk with a third lieutenant who was observing the battle from hiding (Nirvana, whose abilities I didn't list here since she wasn't a combatant in this fight).

I think that's everyone who was there for that fight. This was a boss-fight, and I think it lasted maybe 8 rounds total but I don't remember exactly.

Other things you need to be aware of:
- Speed Rank: If yours is greater than an enemy's, you get +20 AC per rank of difference. However it goes away if you're flatfooted, can't see the enemy, or in general have your vision impaired (for example, a cloud of dust thrown in your face will reduce your Speed Rank by 1).
- Fade: Generalized miss chance - 50%, 75%, 100%. Fade is reduced by things in the environment that reveal your presence. For example, fighting in shallow water or on a snowy field reduces Fade by 1 because you leave footsteps in the water/snow.
- Avoidance N: You can auto-dodge the first N attacks per round. You cannot choose not to use this, so a Lv1 commoner flinging a sling stone at you that would miss anyhow still eats up one of your points per round.
- Dura: Staged immunity. There are things that negate one level of immunity but not two (Searing Spell, for example, in this campaign would negate one level of Dura). There are various PC abilities that lower Dura, and in general the presence of something called 'Death Song' lowers everyone's Dura by I in the area.

AMFV
2014-08-23, 09:41 PM
Nah, this misrepresents the situation. Mr. 30k didn't actually ever use Delayed Blast Fireball for one thing. He pointed out, out of character, that his character had an ace up his sleeve in the form of being able to use this combo. Essentially he was holding back this trick in case things got very hairy. So the whole 'surfeit of fire immune creatures' or even the world adapting to his tactics would all be premature. The source of the arms race was the fact that the one player thought he was utterly optimized to the nines for damage output and had become very proud of being 'the damage guy', but someone else said 'oh, actually, I can do double that damage in a pinch if we need it, you know'. So there's no in-character push to become stronger in a particular way, its all just metagame.

Well if that caused an issue, as you're indicating it did, then that's an OOC issue, the way to fix that would have been to tell the Ubercharger about scenarios where he would be more useful than the other guy.



The other thing is that the Delayed Blast Fireball wasn't actually part of any particular theme for Mr. 30k, it's just something he can do since DBF is a spell and so is Time Stop. If anything, his theme was 'secretly being Cthulhu, but outwardly appearing to just be a lascivious Mexican guy who got dropped into a fantasy world and did well for himself'; he actually had an Elder Evils-style manifestation happen on worlds which he visited - travelers would find that their journeys took 50% longer or shorter than expected for no apparent reason.

Interesting, in any case, that's not really relevant. The point is that at this point I'm stating that I try to make encounters viable for my players. You're giving me examples centered around your players and then framing it as a "gotcha" when I'm not aware of certain details.

The point is that particularly if not built for the DBF and Time Stop trick, is pretty easy to negate. Unless spellcasters build specifically for damage, most of their tricks are fairly easy to counter with the appropriate build. But that's neither here nor there. The statement I was making is that I build encounters to showcase the players which I could do regardless of Mr. 30k's actual build. I would build encounters to showcase the charger as well. A Runescarred Berserker in an AMF would be pretty able to deal with the Time Stop->DBF trick, but since that never came up in game, I'm not sure if it would even be worth producing a fight where that trick was irrelevant. It might be worth reminding the player that this might be the case.



You say that the character 'needs to justify a change in mechanics', but actually in practice many if not most players don't feel that way. If they're playing a wizard who has been casting Fireball a lot, and then he switches to Cone of Cold because the party encounters fire-immune enemies, many players will just say 'eh, fireball wasn't working and I'm a wizard'. But when the push for things is purely OOC, then its even worse because the in-character justification is something like 'I want to have better AC than this other guy!' which is just random and nonsensical.

Not necessarily. I want to have better AC translates to, "I want to be better protected" a clear character motivation with clear roleplaying implications. The character no longer feels as safe as they once did. They're getting older and the thought of getting injured is worse as they're reminded that they aren't as young as they once were. So now they spend time learning to train that way.

As for the spell selection thing, that depends. I tend to think about why my casters would pick certain spells. If I've been casting almost all fire spells then later on I switch, then I'd explain it, if I've already had a varied loadout I might not, depending on character consistency.

I'll amend, if the change is fundamental enough that it creates an inconsistency then it should be addressed otherwise it might not need to be, depending.



I would say that your problem is that you're running/playing in games where stagnation is a serious problem unless you create OOC stresses. The events within the game should be the way to break stagnation, because then that means that the entire decision process for the characters can be traced back to in-character causes, rather than leaving a big hole where the cause of the decision was 'my puppet-master decided he wanted a puppet with bigger numbers than his friend's'.


I don't think that it's a stagnation issue, so much as building a character a different way. Notably I said that I like to do both, and use both methodologies. Sometimes I figure out the mechanical things I want first though, then I create justification. You're not seeing the justification as being valid though, which is I suspect the root of the issue.



Many flaws can be made irrelevant more easily than the AC one actually. For example:

Noncombattant is basically irrelevant for a caster, because casting spells in melee is already a bad idea and their non-casting-based melee is weak enough to be useless. So a -2 to melee attacks is basically something they can completely ignore.

Engage them in a melee scenario, particularly where they have AMF around. Force them to break something like a chain. Put them in a scenario where they have to deal with something with a melee weapon for whatever reason. At least once where the scenario is significant. This makes this a valuable choice. It shouldn't be every combat or every session, or probably even every other session. But occasionally it should come up.



Shaky is the same but for melee. A melee-based character with access to flight is already going to be unable to keep up using ranged, so soemthing that makes ranged even less of a good option won't make much of a difference.

Well you make it a scenario where they have to use ranged on something. They have a target outside of a window and the only weapon available is a bow. Make it so that they can probably hit the target but so that the flaw will be relevant again.



Murky-Eyed is irrelevant on characters who have the ability to ignore concealment and plan to make use of that regularly anyhow (a couple methods: there's an item that lets you ignore concealment on one enemy/round, another item that's 2/day, and a relic that ignores all miss chances entirely; also the Seeking weapon enchantment for ranged weapons ignores concealment) Also, Blind-Fight plus Murky-Eyed is about the most annoying thing that someone can do with a Monk (roll 4 miss-chance dice for each attack, 8 attacks per round using flurry plus TWF plus Eagle's Claw and the like, so 32 extra dice to resolve an attack roll). But they have to be a jerk.

Eh, I'd probably ban Murky-eyed immediately after that, and suggest a replacement flaw, since it's slowing the game down. I'd see if we could develop something with similar flavor.



Slow is irrelevant on characters who will use fixed-speed always-on flight from some source (racial flight, the Fly spell, Ring of Solar's Wings, etc)

Caves with low ceilings where you have to squeeze.



Inattentive is irrelevant on characters who are using an item familiar for their Spot/Listen checks (okay, thats kind of a niche case, but Item Familiar is a really good feat all around). To a lesser extent, it can be made irrelevant by taking a feat such as Chosen of Evil which allows one to gain fairly large bonuses on any skill check they choose at an easily reduced cost. The same is true for the three save-reducer flaws, since Chosen of Evil also can add to saves (and attack rolls, so it works for Shaky and Noncombattant as well!)


Well if you're going to be using an Item Familiar to be good at scouting but you have inattentive. Then I'd just make the disparity clear. Have them go against a stealthy character with the item familiar since they should be able to make up the difference and potentially prove undetectable. A reminder that if they'd only been a little bit more attentive they'd have seen him.



Someone with Mithral Body and a high Dex as a Warforged takes the -1AC flaw to buy Mithral Fluidity, which increases their Max Dex by 1 and also removes 1 ACP for a net effect of -1ACP. What do you do?


Probably nothing, a net effect of -1 ACP is so small as to be almost meaningless. Also the Mithral body thing hits your ability to wear regular armor, so you're already hurting at that point.



I'm beginning to think you're intentionally avoiding the point I've been trying to make here, by instead constantly trying to make this about how the 30k wizard would kill the Balor (which is completely irrelevant and also incorrect, because Energy Substitution = done) instead of the actual thing I'm trying to discuss.

Why would a non-damage focused Wizard blow a feat on Energy Substitution. Also they have to prepare the substituted spells, generally. The point I'm making is that most tricks can be overwhelmed in an instant.



'What does it mean to do 30hp of damage in an attack?'
'What does it mean to do 3000hp of damage in an attack?'
'What does it mean to do 6000hp of damage in an attack?'

Please answer those questions.


Well one is ten times and one is twenty times the first. If you're focusing on delivering damage the numbers matter even if the enemy has a metagame way to avoid them. Theoretically you should start focusing on ways to avoid the off switches for your damage a la the Mailman. And that would be the next building challenge. But really if you are just into damage the numbers themselves should be enough.



This is precisely the kind of thing that makes damage lose its meaning. If it doesn't matter how much damage I do because the enemy can always survive a single hit due to metagame balance concerns, then the lesson I learn is 'how much damage I do doesn't matter'. If I've invested a lot of effort into raising my damage, I'm going to feel like that effort was wasted. I could have spent 1/10th of that effort and the DM would still have monsters that take about 3 blows to kill.

Well then that's your issue for not budgeting correctly your damage focus, that's poor optimization frankly. Also at that point it's the numbers that matter, I'm not using metagame rules to construct something. I'm building something within the rules against which that style is not as effective.



That hollowness is what happened to the 15k player. Neither he nor the 30k guy were one-shotting the monsters in the campaign, because as much as you like to speculate about my DMing, I actually do know what I'm doing as far as creating challenging encounters. But at the same time, things had gotten to the point where the 15k player realized that if he and the 30k player hadn't raced up as high as they did, and stopped at 500 and 1000 damage, then the game would probably be exactly the same. It removed the feeling of achievement from him for getting his numbers so high.

Well the achievement is in getting the numbers so high, not in the effects. Which is why he switched character types soon after. Because he was focusing on something he didn't truly enjoy. If he did care about the big numbers then he wouldn't have said "Oh no, the 30k guy can outdamage me, so I'll just quit" he'd have figured out a way to hit 70k, even if it was meaningless as far as changing in combat. Because he if cared about metagame concerns as you're stating, that would have been his concern, the metagame amount of damage he could do, not his contribution to combat, and as long as he could contribute effectively that's fine.



In one sense, that means he's free to move on to other things, and he's still playing in my games and is now making characters who are much more varied in what they can do - he's learned the truth of the game which is that versatility is the only real source of power. But at the same time, he was enjoying ramping up his numbers, and that disillusionment means that there's now something he can't really enjoy anymore that he used to. For me, ruining my players' ability to enjoy the things they like isn't a good outcome, even if in the long run they find other things to enjoy that are more stable.

You didn't ruin his ability to enjoy something, you've exposed that he was enjoying it less than he thought he was, or was enjoying it for different reasons than he believed he was. And that's a natural learning progression.



(and incidentally, the reason Mr. 30k was able to just bust out 30k randomly without having specifically focused on tricks for it is that he built an incredibly versatile character who could with minor reconfigurations probably do just about any task; he was also the more experienced player, so he intentionally did not do that openly and usually restricted himself to certain kinds of things so that he didn't step on the other players toes, but the 30k thing came up in a debate about damage and he admitted after the fact that mentioning his abilities there was an error on his part)

Well I question how versatile he was if he had Maximize Spell and Energy Substitution, but that's neither here nor there. I don't think that your player lost out on fun because he realized the numbers were irrelevant. I think he'd have eventually realized that anyway and wouldn't have enjoyed that sort of character truly in the long run.



I can see others of my players progressing down the same track at different rates, so yes, this is something I think about. In the long run, they may all end up being jaded veterans who understand where the real staying power is in the game, but I'm not doing them any favors if I hasten them to that endpoint.

Why not? If you hasten them to figuring out what they actually enjoy, why is that bad? Some people love the numbers, even if it's irrelevant, your friend wasn't one of them. In any case, we're way off topic here. I've demonstrated how out-of-character concerns can spawn roleplay, and had at least two similar examples. That's how it works for me, I can understand if it's different for you, but for me that is how it works.

NichG
2014-08-24, 03:12 AM
Well if that caused an issue, as you're indicating it did, then that's an OOC issue, the way to fix that would have been to tell the Ubercharger about scenarios where he would be more useful than the other guy.

Interesting, in any case, that's not really relevant. The point is that at this point I'm stating that I try to make encounters viable for my players. You're giving me examples centered around your players and then framing it as a "gotcha" when I'm not aware of certain details.


Actually, I was trying for the last several posts to specifically avoid talking about the details of the 30k guy and the 15k guy for this and similar reasons, but you did keep bringing it up so I felt I had to resolve the point. You can't simultaneously insist on talking about the detailed example and then complain when you didn't know something about the details that didn't turn out to make the point you wanted to make. If you want to talk generalities thats fine, and I've been willing (and trying) to move back towards that for several posts. But if you want to talk specifics then you're constrained by what actually happened in that campaign, which means that there's a lot of information you don't have about the details of the situation, and its not going to be easy to transfer all of that information in this medium and still retain any relevance.



The point is that particularly if not built for the DBF and Time Stop trick, is pretty easy to negate. Unless spellcasters build specifically for damage, most of their tricks are fairly easy to counter with the appropriate build. But that's neither here nor there. The statement I was making is that I build encounters to showcase the players which I could do regardless of Mr. 30k's actual build. I would build encounters to showcase the charger as well. A Runescarred Berserker in an AMF would be pretty able to deal with the Time Stop->DBF trick, but since that never came up in game, I'm not sure if it would even be worth producing a fight where that trick was irrelevant. It might be worth reminding the player that this might be the case.


The kind of 'hey, keep in mind I can totally kill your character if I want' thing just encourages more antagonism. Not a good route. That kind of boasting is, in fact, what amplified the arms race between those players. Its not conducive to play where people are trying to help each-other have fun; instead it gets people trying to 'beat' each-other. And when one of those participants is the DM, its intrinsically unfair which leads to frustration.



I don't think that it's a stagnation issue, so much as building a character a different way. Notably I said that I like to do both, and use both methodologies. Sometimes I figure out the mechanical things I want first though, then I create justification. You're not seeing the justification as being valid though, which is I suspect the root of the issue.


I'm saying that there are always plenty of reasons to make interesting choices for your character growth even without having meta-game arms races and the like.



Engage them in a melee scenario, particularly where they have AMF around. Force them to break something like a chain. Put them in a scenario where they have to deal with something with a melee weapon for whatever reason. At least once where the scenario is significant. This makes this a valuable choice. It shouldn't be every combat or every session, or probably even every other session. But occasionally it should come up.

Well you make it a scenario where they have to use ranged on something. They have a target outside of a window and the only weapon available is a bow. Make it so that they can probably hit the target but so that the flaw will be relevant again.

Eh, I'd probably ban Murky-eyed immediately after that, and suggest a replacement flaw, since it's slowing the game down. I'd see if we could develop something with similar flavor.

Caves with low ceilings where you have to squeeze.

Well if you're going to be using an Item Familiar to be good at scouting but you have inattentive. Then I'd just make the disparity clear. Have them go against a stealthy character with the item familiar since they should be able to make up the difference and potentially prove undetectable. A reminder that if they'd only been a little bit more attentive they'd have seen him.


Mostly these strike me as you going out of your way to make the entire game about punishing the player for a minor mechanical choice, so this strongly reinforces my opinion of you using mostly adversarial and emotionally-driven retributive DMing. I would suggest you take a serious look at whether you're doing this to make the game better for your players, or if you just can't stand to 'lose' or to 'let someone get away with something'. But of course if you and your players have fun with this, more power to you. Its certainly not advice I would take or suggest that anyone else take though.

Notably, negating someone's entire character (AMF to a Wizard) just in order to make them actually 'pay' for taking Noncombatant is incredibly overkill by any standard.



Why would a non-damage focused Wizard blow a feat on Energy Substitution. Also they have to prepare the substituted spells, generally. The point I'm making is that most tricks can be overwhelmed in an instant.


Wish is cheap and easy in high-op games. Wish can emulate a spell of a lower level. In Mr. 30k's case, I'm pretty sure he had Delay Spell since that tied in with the 'do anything in a Timestop' meta-trick which is useful. Its easy enough to apply that to a damage spell instead of a summoning, buff, etc. I could believe he had energy substitution for in-game metaphysics research though (generating new energy types), but I can't honestly remember.



Well one is ten times and one is twenty times the first. If you're focusing on delivering damage the numbers matter even if the enemy has a metagame way to avoid them. Theoretically you should start focusing on ways to avoid the off switches for your damage a la the Mailman. And that would be the next building challenge. But really if you are just into damage the numbers themselves should be enough.


So damage is meaningless to you (or at least, you cannot assign it meaning). When you realize that there is no difference between those numbers (and there isn't, without some kind of context to ground them), then if you actually think about what you're doing you'll come to the realization that optimizing for damage becomes highly meaningless. That means that something you once liked (if you're getting a kick out of optimizing for damage that is), now is hollow and pointless. So your ability to enjoy your hobby is decreased. Worse, it's decreased from then on in all subsequent games you play.

Which, even if that is the eventual conclusion that most players will reach given a long enough career in gaming, is not something I want to accelerate.



Well then that's your issue for not budgeting correctly your damage focus, that's poor optimization frankly. Also at that point it's the numbers that matter, I'm not using metagame rules to construct something. I'm building something within the rules against which that style is not as effective.


My goal as DM is not to make my players into the best optimizers ever. Its to create something where my players have as much ability to enjoy themselves with different aspects of the game. Maybe thats optimization (both good optimization and poor optimization, whatever that might mean), or maybe its exploring things, or feeling like a badass, or whatever.



Well the achievement is in getting the numbers so high, not in the effects. Which is why he switched character types soon after. Because he was focusing on something he didn't truly enjoy. If he did care about the big numbers then he wouldn't have said "Oh no, the 30k guy can outdamage me, so I'll just quit" he'd have figured out a way to hit 70k, even if it was meaningless as far as changing in combat. Because he if cared about metagame concerns as you're stating, that would have been his concern, the metagame amount of damage he could do, not his contribution to combat, and as long as he could contribute effectively that's fine.

You didn't ruin his ability to enjoy something, you've exposed that he was enjoying it less than he thought he was, or was enjoying it for different reasons than he believed he was. And that's a natural learning progression.


He cared about getting the numbers so high until he had a moment of realization that what he was doing was pointless. Afterwards, his priorities changed as a result. People aren't static - sometimes you do something on autopilot, look around, and see you're somewhere very far from where you thought you'd be. In his case, he was having fun pushing the numbers, discovering crazy ways to push them further in the rules, things he could combo with the homebrew stuff to break the game, etc. I was happy about him doing this, because it drove his engagement with the game. The fact that he realized the pointlessness is part of the reason that that arc of the campaign went instead to a side-story with new characters shortly afterwards (which eventually re-merged into the main line of the game).

Whether or not its 'natural', that doesn't mean that its 'enjoyable', or even 'good'. Obviously the circumstances accelerated that; now, I have no idea whether or not the player would in retrospect say 'I would have preferred not to have that experience' - I think that's a hard call to make objectively for anyone - but at the time it was certainly a strong negative impression; strong enough for him to ask for a campaign reboot and for me to agree to do that.



Well I question how versatile he was if he had Maximize Spell and Energy Substitution, but that's neither here nor there. I don't think that your player lost out on fun because he realized the numbers were irrelevant. I think he'd have eventually realized that anyway and wouldn't have enjoyed that sort of character truly in the long run.

Why not? If you hasten them to figuring out what they actually enjoy, why is that bad? Some people love the numbers, even if it's irrelevant, your friend wasn't one of them. In any case, we're way off topic here. I've demonstrated how out-of-character concerns can spawn roleplay, and had at least two similar examples. That's how it works for me, I can understand if it's different for you, but for me that is how it works.

Because what you enjoy is malleable and changes over time based on your experiences. As DM, if you do something to poison someone on a particular kind of gaming, that's not a good thing (just look at how bitter some people are on GitP about bad DMing/railroading/etc). So when something creates that situation in one of my games, I sit up and pay very close attention so I can understand how it happened and what can be done to stop it in the future.

AMFV
2014-08-24, 10:11 AM
The kind of 'hey, keep in mind I can totally kill your character if I want' thing just encourages more antagonism. Not a good route. That kind of boasting is, in fact, what amplified the arms race between those players. Its not conducive to play where people are trying to help each-other have fun; instead it gets people trying to 'beat' each-other. And when one of those participants is the DM, its intrinsically unfair which leads to frustration.

But there is an entire school of thought based around it, so I don't think it's necessarily a bad choice. Like I said Old School D&D is very based on that kind of antagonism and the resultant paranoia.



I'm saying that there are always plenty of reasons to make interesting choices for your character growth even without having meta-game arms races and the like.

Certainly, but don't invalidate the fact that a meta-games arm's race can absolutely be the thing that you use to motivate character growth. It's as valid as almost any out of character reason to cause roleplay growth.



Mostly these strike me as you going out of your way to make the entire game about punishing the player for a minor mechanical choice, so this strongly reinforces my opinion of you using mostly adversarial and emotionally-driven retributive DMing. I would suggest you take a serious look at whether you're doing this to make the game better for your players, or if you just can't stand to 'lose' or to 'let someone get away with something'. But of course if you and your players have fun with this, more power to you. Its certainly not advice I would take or suggest that anyone else take though.

Actually those were all examples just to show that you're examples could be invalidated. Pretty easily too in most of those cases. If one of my players genuinely complained about a flaw that wound up affecting him negatively when he wasn't expecting that, already an unreasonable expectation since as I said, I inform players of the way I treat flaws right at the start when they take them.

I'm also more concerned with the flaw having a narrative significance than necessarily a mechanical significance. For example if the character with the 'Overconfident' flaw, consistently roleplays that, sometimes even to the detriment of their character, then there's no reason for me to step in at all.

I'm not being needlessly retributive here, in that I want choices to have meaningful consequences.



So damage is meaningless to you (or at least, you cannot assign it meaning). When you realize that there is no difference between those numbers (and there isn't, without some kind of context to ground them), then if you actually think about what you're doing you'll come to the realization that optimizing for damage becomes highly meaningless. That means that something you once liked (if you're getting a kick out of optimizing for damage that is), now is hollow and pointless. So your ability to enjoy your hobby is decreased. Worse, it's decreased from then on in all subsequent games you play.

Not necessarily, the damage is itself the meaning, for people who care about it. Which is something both you and the 15k player, apparently don't understand. It's like climbing a mountain, you don't do it to see what's at the top, you do it to have climbed the mountain. Increasing damage past what is actually useful is the same exact exercise.



Which, even if that is the eventual conclusion that most players will reach given a long enough career in gaming, is not something I want to accelerate.

If those players were going to reach that conclusion in any case, there's no reason to tiptoe around it, it's inevitable. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.



My goal as DM is not to make my players into the best optimizers ever. Its to create something where my players have as much ability to enjoy themselves with different aspects of the game. Maybe thats optimization (both good optimization and poor optimization, whatever that might mean), or maybe its exploring things, or feeling like a badass, or whatever.

Well that's why it's important to talk to your players about what you want and what they want. It's not unreasonable to want things as a DM in regards to the story. I want a story where player choices have meaningful in-world consequences. So I tel players about that. I'm less concerned with optimization because generally I can optimize equally.



He cared about getting the numbers so high until he had a moment of realization that what he was doing was pointless. Afterwards, his priorities changed as a result. People aren't static - sometimes you do something on autopilot, look around, and see you're somewhere very far from where you thought you'd be. In his case, he was having fun pushing the numbers, discovering crazy ways to push them further in the rules, things he could combo with the homebrew stuff to break the game, etc. I was happy about him doing this, because it drove his engagement with the game. The fact that he realized the pointlessness is part of the reason that that arc of the campaign went instead to a side-story with new characters shortly afterwards (which eventually re-merged into the main line of the game).

Well it's not pointless to people that like those kind of pursuits. I'm not sure why it turned out to be pointless for him. Maybe he just saw 30k as an unreachable challenge, who knows? But if the damage is your goal, then it will never be pointless.



Whether or not its 'natural', that doesn't mean that its 'enjoyable', or even 'good'. Obviously the circumstances accelerated that; now, I have no idea whether or not the player would in retrospect say 'I would have preferred not to have that experience' - I think that's a hard call to make objectively for anyone - but at the time it was certainly a strong negative impression; strong enough for him to ask for a campaign reboot and for me to agree to do that.

I would never do a campaign reboot over one player's dissatisfaction. Never. I would allow for a character restructuring or the introduction of a new character but not a campaign reboot. That seems to be just needless pandering to the whims of one, admittedly fickle player.



Because what you enjoy is malleable and changes over time based on your experiences. As DM, if you do something to poison someone on a particular kind of gaming, that's not a good thing (just look at how bitter some people are on GitP about bad DMing/railroading/etc). So when something creates that situation in one of my games, I sit up and pay very close attention so I can understand how it happened and what can be done to stop it in the future.

Well the people that don't like Railroading or what-not, are always going to arrive that conclusion generally. And people will generally like or dislike specific types of gaming without your assistance. So it's not unreasonable to state that finding their preferences is something that should happen sooner rather than later.

NichG
2014-08-25, 05:05 PM
But there is an entire school of thought based around it, so I don't think it's necessarily a bad choice. Like I said Old School D&D is very based on that kind of antagonism and the resultant paranoia.

Having played and run Old School D&D on a couple occasions, I don't actually think its based on antagonism so much as it's based on lethality, danger, and the possibility of death lurking around every corner. There is a difference between a lethal DM and an antagonistic DM. A lethal DM creates a world that is inherently dangerous, and if the characters live or die it's based on them making the right decisions at every turn. An antagonistic DM creates a world that is specifically out to get the characters of the particular players - the guy who always taps in front of him with a 10ft pole finds that there's a trigger that opens a pit trap 10ft behind the trigger point, every barmaid that the lothario seduces is a succubus in disguise, the wizard's spellbook is stolen by monkeys not because monkeys would steal a spellbook, but because the DM is having the world attack the wizard in particular.

In old school gaming, the DM was called a 'referee'. The idea being that the world was what it is, the players/characters are what they are, and the DM is an impartial adjudicator that acts as the interface between the world and the players. Only later did the idea evolve to include the DM adapting the world to the characters (and usually in the characters' favor).



Certainly, but don't invalidate the fact that a meta-games arm's race can absolutely be the thing that you use to motivate character growth. It's as valid as almost any out of character reason to cause roleplay growth.


In general, this will not actually produce more or better character growth than the zillions of other ways that are not metagamey. Its sort of like encouraging stealing bread as a method to become a pillar of the community, because it eventually worked for Jean val Jean.



Actually those were all examples just to show that you're examples could be invalidated. Pretty easily too in most of those cases. If one of my players genuinely complained about a flaw that wound up affecting him negatively when he wasn't expecting that, already an unreasonable expectation since as I said, I inform players of the way I treat flaws right at the start when they take them.

I'm also more concerned with the flaw having a narrative significance than necessarily a mechanical significance. For example if the character with the 'Overconfident' flaw, consistently roleplays that, sometimes even to the detriment of their character, then there's no reason for me to step in at all.

I'm not being needlessly retributive here, in that I want choices to have meaningful consequences.


I read this as 'as long as the player propitiates the DM, you give them a pass'. If the player is uppity and doesn't properly RP their flaw, then you have the world smack them for it. That's a fairly bad DM/player dynamic as far as I'm concerned, but its one that's easy enough for players to figure out and live with if there are other things they're enjoying about the game. The metagame optimization is to constantly ham up how bad the situation is in a positive way. E.g. constantly comment in amazement about their own survival, how touch and go things are, how hard those enemies were, etc, so it appears that the player is always suffering from some or other one of their choices, even if its not actually at all true. "Crap, if I'd rolled three lower, I'd really be in a pickle! Wow, I was almost dead there! That battle was close! Wow, I was almost out of spell slots in that fight! That miss chance nearly did us in!" etc.



Not necessarily, the damage is itself the meaning, for people who care about it. Which is something both you and the 15k player, apparently don't understand. It's like climbing a mountain, you don't do it to see what's at the top, you do it to have climbed the mountain. Increasing damage past what is actually useful is the same exact exercise.

If those players were going to reach that conclusion in any case, there's no reason to tiptoe around it, it's inevitable. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Well that's why it's important to talk to your players about what you want and what they want. It's not unreasonable to want things as a DM in regards to the story. I want a story where player choices have meaningful in-world consequences. So I tel players about that. I'm less concerned with optimization because generally I can optimize equally.

Well it's not pointless to people that like those kind of pursuits. I'm not sure why it turned out to be pointless for him. Maybe he just saw 30k as an unreachable challenge, who knows? But if the damage is your goal, then it will never be pointless.
[/quote]

What I'm trying to point out is that eventually that kind of motive is very unstable. What stabilizes it is the context - 'wow, look what I can do!'. When the context itself vanishes, then a lot of the drive also goes away. A mountain-climber can eventually look forward to climbing Everest because 'its the tallest'. If you talk to a mountain climber, they'll have a lot of little facts about different altitudes at their command - they know what heights external oxygen becomes necessary, what heights cause brain damage after short exposures, how cold it is at different points, and they'll have slang and common points of reference to certain heights, like 'Fourteeners'. When someone says to a mountain climber that they were up above 20000ft, that means something to them that they can imagine based on the context of their own experiences.

If the atmosphere, temperature, and conditions were constant and mountain climbing was just a matter of how far up an infinite slope you go, I think you'd find far fewer people interested in 'getting the high score'.



I would never do a campaign reboot over one player's dissatisfaction. Never. I would allow for a character restructuring or the introduction of a new character but not a campaign reboot. That seems to be just needless pandering to the whims of one, admittedly fickle player.


And yet the reboot and the subsequent Season 2 of this campaign was one of the most popular campaign arcs I've run amongst my players. That one player's dissatisfaction wasn't just some random gripe, it underscored something that was structurally wrong with the campaign as it had been going, which had an effect on the other players as well, just to a less obvious extent. So it was absolutely the right decision to make.


Well the people that don't like Railroading or what-not, are always going to arrive that conclusion generally. And people will generally like or dislike specific types of gaming without your assistance. So it's not unreasonable to state that finding their preferences is something that should happen sooner rather than later.

Again, preferences change as a result of the player's experiences. Its not like there's some fixed 'set of preferences' that the player will inevitably discover. If they have lots of positive experiences in games that involve heavy optimization, they'll look more favorably on optimization in general; if they have lots of negative experiences because they're always ineffectual and the other players are basically making their decisions for them, they'll naturally learn to seek out games where there's less competitive optimization and may end up having an overall distaste for the concept of optimization. If someone is burned by their DMs being jerks, they'll naturally learn to prefer games that put more constraints on what the DM is allowed to do than if they have lots of positive experiences with the DM doing creative non-by-the-book stuff.

The Insanity
2014-08-25, 05:24 PM
"The forefathers of D&D did it this way, thus it is good" is a slippery slope argument.

kyoryu
2014-08-25, 06:23 PM
Having played and run Old School D&D on a couple occasions, I don't actually think its based on antagonism so much as it's based on lethality, danger, and the possibility of death lurking around every corner. There is a difference between a lethal DM and an antagonistic DM.


Totally agreed. A good old-school GM is *neutral*. Their concern is being fair in terms of playing out the situation as it develops, regardless of how it develops.

Coming from a decidedly new-school gamer (the author of Burning Wheel), I think this is a good description of old-school gaming: https://plus.google.com/111266966448135449970/posts/Q8qRhCw7az5


"The forefathers of D&D did it this way, thus it is good" is a slippery slope argument.

It's a good thing to understand how the forefathers played, because:

1) It helps to understand why the rules evolved as they did.
2) There's a lot of good stuff there.

But I agree, "the forefathers played it this way, therefore it's good" is a bad argument. It's just as bad as "the forefathers played it this way, therefore it's bad."

AMFV
2014-08-25, 06:42 PM
"The forefathers of D&D did it this way, thus it is good" is a slippery slope argument.

People have enjoyed it in the past, therefore some people will likely enjoy it in the present is not though.


Totally agreed. A good old-school GM is *neutral*. Their concern is being fair in terms of playing out the situation as it develops, regardless of how it develops.

It depends on which old-school GM you're talking about to be fair. I imagine Arneson or Hickman would run games that were very different from those Gygax would run. Gygax was generally not especially antagonistic, but he was ruthless, and that is often the same thing. Old school gaming is also a broad spectrum.



It's a good thing to understand how the forefathers played, because:

1) It helps to understand why the rules evolved as they did.
2) There's a lot of good stuff there.

But I agree, "the forefathers played it this way, therefore it's good" is a bad argument. It's just as bad as "the forefathers played it this way, therefore it's bad."


Having played and run Old School D&D on a couple occasions, I don't actually think its based on antagonism so much as it's based on lethality, danger, and the possibility of death lurking around every corner. There is a difference between a lethal DM and an antagonistic DM. A lethal DM creates a world that is inherently dangerous, and if the characters live or die it's based on them making the right decisions at every turn. An antagonistic DM creates a world that is specifically out to get the characters of the particular players - the guy who always taps in front of him with a 10ft pole finds that there's a trigger that opens a pit trap 10ft behind the trigger point, every barmaid that the lothario seduces is a succubus in disguise, the wizard's spellbook is stolen by monkeys not because monkeys would steal a spellbook, but because the DM is having the world attack the wizard in particular.

Yes, but that isn't exactly a logical conclusion to what I've been suggesting either. I've said that there are games where people enjoy the antagonistic relationship.




In old school gaming, the DM was called a 'referee'. The idea being that the world was what it is, the players/characters are what they are, and the DM is an impartial adjudicator that acts as the interface between the world and the players. Only later did the idea evolve to include the DM adapting the world to the characters (and usually in the characters' favor).

They weren't always called that, and not all of them wanted to be completely impartial, impartiality would involve never catching people in the little things and then focusing on them. To properly Monkey's Paw a wish you often have to interpret things in an esoteric way, or deliberately misunderstand, which is not necessarily implausible, but it isn't exactly fair arbitration either.



In general, this will not actually produce more or better character growth than the zillions of other ways that are not metagamey. Its sort of like encouraging stealing bread as a method to become a pillar of the community, because it eventually worked for Jean val Jean.

I don't think we can appropriately measure the quality of character growth. Also for your analogy to work, then the metagame arm's race has to be wrong, which you haven't proven, only repeated about ten or twelve times. Yes the analogy is appropriate if you start a position where you assume that the thing is wrong. I'm stating that if you start at the position that it isn't then it doesn't produce less or worse character growth either. Character arcs are pretty personal to a player, and different people are going to prefer different things.



I read this as 'as long as the player propitiates the DM, you give them a pass'. If the player is uppity and doesn't properly RP their flaw, then you have the world smack them for it. That's a fairly bad DM/player dynamic as far as I'm concerned, but its one that's easy enough for players to figure out and live with if there are other things they're enjoying about the game. The metagame optimization is to constantly ham up how bad the situation is in a positive way. E.g. constantly comment in amazement about their own survival, how touch and go things are, how hard those enemies were, etc, so it appears that the player is always suffering from some or other one of their choices, even if its not actually at all true. "Crap, if I'd rolled three lower, I'd really be in a pickle! Wow, I was almost dead there! That battle was close! Wow, I was almost out of spell slots in that fight! That miss chance nearly did us in!" etc.

No, that's making the assumption first that I'm a vindictive *******, which I promise I'm not, and second that I'm an idiot. The point is that if the flaw becomes meaningful on its own I don't to bring it up, it's not if the player declares to be so, but if it, and that's pretty easy to interpret. Also I don't have the world repeatedly punish people for taking flaws. But sometimes flaws hurt, and I tell people about that beforehand, this is not a surprise I spring on people. I actually have a campaign right now where I'm allowing people to work to overcome their flaws, turning them into free feats in actuality and losing the negative.

If I wanted people to have free feats I'd give them free feats, if I want characters to have flaws, I give them flaws. I'm under no prerogative to include flaws, as they're already a variant rule, and I can set whatever bound and limits on their inclusion that I desire. The other thing you glossed over is that if a player winds up being unhappy with their flaw, I generally allow them to switch, or get rid of it altogether, or I work out some in-world fix eventually.



What I'm trying to point out is that eventually that kind of motive is very unstable. What stabilizes it is the context - 'wow, look what I can do!'. When the context itself vanishes, then a lot of the drive also goes away. A mountain-climber can eventually look forward to climbing Everest because 'its the tallest'. If you talk to a mountain climber, they'll have a lot of little facts about different altitudes at their command - they know what heights external oxygen becomes necessary, what heights cause brain damage after short exposures, how cold it is at different points, and they'll have slang and common points of reference to certain heights, like 'Fourteeners'. When someone says to a mountain climber that they were up above 20000ft, that means something to them that they can imagine based on the context of their own experiences.

If the atmosphere, temperature, and conditions were constant and mountain climbing was just a matter of how far up an infinite slope you go, I think you'd find far fewer people interested in 'getting the high score'.

The problem is that you aren't understanding people that get score just to get the score. There are people who spend lots of money in the Arcade, wasting time, and enduring frustration just to get bigger numbers that aren't really relevant to anything. My point is that if the player was one of those sort of people, that would have been fine for me. He'd have thought 30k, hmmm, how can I hit 30k, immediately following that discussion.



And yet the reboot and the subsequent Season 2 of this campaign was one of the most popular campaign arcs I've run amongst my players. That one player's dissatisfaction wasn't just some random gripe, it underscored something that was structurally wrong with the campaign as it had been going, which had an effect on the other players as well, just to a less obvious extent. So it was absolutely the right decision to make.

Well, I still think that I would not have done a reboot for a single player, although if there was a bigger issue, then that's possible. But that's really a matter of preference.



Again, preferences change as a result of the player's experiences. Its not like there's some fixed 'set of preferences' that the player will inevitably discover. If they have lots of positive experiences in games that involve heavy optimization, they'll look more favorably on optimization in general; if they have lots of negative experiences because they're always ineffectual and the other players are basically making their decisions for them, they'll naturally learn to seek out games where there's less competitive optimization and may end up having an overall distaste for the concept of optimization. If someone is burned by their DMs being jerks, they'll naturally learn to prefer games that put more constraints on what the DM is allowed to do than if they have lots of positive experiences with the DM doing creative non-by-the-book stuff.

It is too difficult to figure out what people are going to like or dislike to rule any one thing as the thing that's going to push people a certain way. There are people who are still playing in antagonistic games to this date. There are people still playing in games where they ruthlessly optimize. That's a thing, as such I suspect that your claim that it will scar players is inherently a bad one. If the player wouldn't have liked it, then they'll wind up not liking it and moving on, but that's fine.

NichG
2014-08-25, 07:24 PM
Yes, but that isn't exactly a logical conclusion to what I've been suggesting either. I've said that there are games where people enjoy the antagonistic relationship.

And there are far far more where players were burned out and bitter because their DM was a jerk. And quite a few players who simply don't know any other kind of DM and so don't know to look for better. I'll allow for there being some players in the world who would actually and truthfully enjoy this, because the world is a big place and people are an extremely varied bunch - masochists exist, for example - but advising someone to treat everyone they come across as if they're a nascent masochist is pretty irresponsible I think.



They weren't always called that, and not all of them wanted to be completely impartial, impartiality would involve never catching people in the little things and then focusing on them. To properly Monkey's Paw a wish you often have to interpret things in an esoteric way, or deliberately misunderstand, which is not necessarily implausible, but it isn't exactly fair arbitration either.


Yes, bad DMs exist. How many threads have we had about terrible DMing on these forums? Monkey's Pawing a wish because it comes from a Monkey's Paw is one thing - thats actually a fair arbitration to twist it, because the whole thing about a Monkey's Paw is that it twists the wishes (no different than having an efreet seek to twist the wishes of his master). Monkey's Pawing a wish 'just because' is antagonistic.

Having dangerous things in the world isn't antagonistic. Having apples that fall up and kill you, a la 'I wanna be the guy', is antagonistic.


I don't think we can appropriately measure the quality of character growth. Also for your analogy to work, then the metagame arm's race has to be wrong, which you haven't proven, only repeated about ten or twelve times. Yes the analogy is appropriate if you start a position where you assume that the thing is wrong. I'm stating that if you start at the position that it isn't then it doesn't produce less or worse character growth either. Character arcs are pretty personal to a player, and different people are going to prefer different things.


The proof of anything has to come from shared axioms. We obviously can't agree on axioms. Or even outcomes. I listed an example of a campaign where certain things went wrong and were felt as such by myself and the players, and your response was 'no, thats how a campaign should go!'. If you can't actually accept that e.g. things that we all perceive as problems are actually problems, then we have no basis for discussion - we're playing different games and trying to do different things. It'd be like if I said 'I really don't enjoy being shot in the foot so I want to try to make a game where that doesn't happen' and your response was 'you should enjoy it, because I do'.



No, that's making the assumption first that I'm a vindictive *******, which I promise I'm not, and second that I'm an idiot. The point is that if the flaw becomes meaningful on its own I don't to bring it up, it's not if the player declares to be so, but if it, and that's pretty easy to interpret. Also I don't have the world repeatedly punish people for taking flaws. But sometimes flaws hurt, and I tell people about that beforehand, this is not a surprise I spring on people. I actually have a campaign right now where I'm allowing people to work to overcome their flaws, turning them into free feats in actuality and losing the negative.


Whether you actually are or not, in this discussion you're coming off as vindictive and more generally as unable to allow yourself to lose face by e.g. letting a player get away with something, even if it damages things around you. What you're saying and the sorts of arguments and statements you're giving makes it seem that way.



If I wanted people to have free feats I'd give them free feats, if I want characters to have flaws, I give them flaws. I'm under no prerogative to include flaws, as they're already a variant rule, and I can set whatever bound and limits on their inclusion that I desire. The other thing you glossed over is that if a player winds up being unhappy with their flaw, I generally allow them to switch, or get rid of it altogether, or I work out some in-world fix eventually.


Then what I'd say is that you don't understand the mechanics of the system, because when you give people by-the-book flaws, you are giving them free feats that have a token slap on the wrist associated with them. Like many other things in D&D, what the mechanics claim to be and what they are can be very very different from each-other. A wizard actually makes for a more effective grappler than a monk because of the reality of the rules, even if the fluff says otherwise. That inconsistency isn't something to be praised, but it is something that we have to either live with or actively seek to fix if we want to play 3.5.



The problem is that you aren't understanding people that get score just to get the score. There are people who spend lots of money in the Arcade, wasting time, and enduring frustration just to get bigger numbers that aren't really relevant to anything. My point is that if the player was one of those sort of people, that would have been fine for me. He'd have thought 30k, hmmm, how can I hit 30k, immediately following that discussion.


Even if there is a 1% like that, there's a 50% who push things for meaningful reasons and then get disillusioned when that meaning vanishes.


It is too difficult to figure out what people are going to like or dislike to rule any one thing as the thing that's going to push people a certain way. There are people who are still playing in antagonistic games to this date. There are people still playing in games where they ruthlessly optimize. That's a thing, as such I suspect that your claim that it will scar players is inherently a bad one. If the player wouldn't have liked it, then they'll wind up not liking it and moving on, but that's fine.

Its not necessarily easy, but its not 'too difficult'. I would say that its one of the hallmarks of a good DM that they can do this. Certainly, the best DMs I've played with have all been able to customize their campaigns to their players, perceive fluctuations in player satisfaction and take corrective actions, and at the same time provide players with things that are enough at the edge of their experiences to encourage their growth in specific directions. Its no different than the skills that a teacher has to have.

The Insanity
2014-08-25, 07:37 PM
But I agree, "the forefathers played it this way, therefore it's good" is a bad argument. It's just as bad as "the forefathers played it this way, therefore it's bad."
Whether it was played by the forefathers or not has no bearing on whether it's bad or not. It's bad on its own merits.


People have enjoyed it in the past, therefore some people will likely enjoy it in the present is not though.
Times change. Acceptable things change. In the past slavery was commonly acceptable (that's what the word "forefathers" was alluding to, American forefathers kept slaves after all). It's not now. Killing was acceptable. It's not now. Torturing or inhumanely threating prisoners/war captives was acceptable. Now it's not. You get the picture. Just because someone can enjoy it doesn't make it a good idea.

AMFV
2014-08-25, 07:40 PM
And there are far far more where players were burned out and bitter because their DM was a jerk. And quite a few players who simply don't know any other kind of DM and so don't know to look for better. I'll allow for there being some players in the world who would actually and truthfully enjoy this, because the world is a big place and people are an extremely varied bunch - masochists exist, for example - but advising someone to treat everyone they come across as if they're a nascent masochist is pretty irresponsible I think.

But it isn't masochism, really. And to be fair, there's a large spectrum of what people would enjoy. I'm saying that certain kinds of games can be tried and enjoyed by different people. I both enjoy the standard 3.5 type games, nWoD type story based games, and antagonistic dungeon crawls, they're just different but good experiences.



Yes, bad DMs exist. How many threads have we had about terrible DMing on these forums? Monkey's Pawing a wish because it comes from a Monkey's Paw is one thing - thats actually a fair arbitration to twist it, because the whole thing about a Monkey's Paw is that it twists the wishes (no different than having an efreet seek to twist the wishes of his master). Monkey's Pawing a wish 'just because' is antagonistic.

Well that's how Gygax played, it's one of his favorite anecdotes, so I'd say it's reasonable to assume that it was part of certain old school games.



Having dangerous things in the world isn't antagonistic. Having apples that fall up and kill you, a la 'I wanna be the guy', is antagonistic.

Yes, an IWBTG was extremely popular, far outstripping the expectations of it's designers. People enjoy completing things that they see to be challenging. And artificially enhancing that challenge, a la Nintendo is clearly something people enjoy.



The proof of anything has to come from shared axioms. We obviously can't agree on axioms. Or even outcomes. I listed an example of a campaign where certain things went wrong and were felt as such by myself and the players, and your response was 'no, thats how a campaign should go!'. If you can't actually accept that e.g. things that we all perceive as problems are actually problems, then we have no basis for discussion - we're playing different games and trying to do different things. It'd be like if I said 'I really don't enjoy being shot in the foot so I want to try to make a game where that doesn't happen' and your response was 'you should enjoy it, because I do'.

My response was not that, actually if you'd have thoroughly read it. My response was, that's one way a campaign can go. I could see how you don't enjoy that or your players don't enjoy that. You said that Arms Race were in all cases bad, I said "No, I've had games with Arms' Races that were really fun" and you refused to accept that on account of from what I can tell, is one bad experience.

I've not claimed that your preferences were invalid, or that Arms' Races are good. The only thing I've said is that it's one way to produce character growth, that there can be good things that come from it, and if people enjoy it it shouldn't be discouraged. I'm not saying that in that particular case that Arms' Race was not a problem, because clearly it was, it impeded your and two player's enjoyment. I'm saying that your case is not representative of every single game Arms' Race, not by a long shot.



Whether you actually are or not, in this discussion you're coming off as vindictive and more generally as unable to allow yourself to lose face by e.g. letting a player get away with something, even if it damages things around you. What you're saying and the sorts of arguments and statements you're giving makes it seem that way.

To you, but you have a different perspective on the game, you don't like little mechanical things, you like broad stroke mechanics. So it produces a different thing, you're seeing me as vindictive, because you see me responding to a small detail. I'm seeing that as what I enjoy in a game. Focusing on making even the smallest details and choices have significance.

I don't have a face related stake in that, my job as I said isn't to control what players can get away with, but to ensure that they participate in a meaningful world, which to me means, that even the smallest choices would be meaningful.



Then what I'd say is that you don't understand the mechanics of the system, because when you give people by-the-book flaws, you are giving them free feats that have a token slap on the wrist associated with them. Like many other things in D&D, what the mechanics claim to be and what they are can be very very different from each-other. A wizard actually makes for a more effective grappler than a monk because of the reality of the rules, even if the fluff says otherwise. That inconsistency isn't something to be praised, but it is something that we have to either live with or actively seek to fix if we want to play 3.5.

Well if you'd read the section on flaws, it specifies that they should have only a token slap on the wrist. Just because many of the ones they present do, does not mean that that was their design intention. Furthermore players are told beforehand that it isn't a slap on the wrist. It's a variant rule, and I can further vary the variant rule, particularly if I inform players of that before



Even if there is a 1% like that, there's a 50% who push things for meaningful reasons and then get disillusioned when that meaning vanishes.

Well that can't be helped.



Its not necessarily easy, but its not 'too difficult'. I would say that its one of the hallmarks of a good DM that they can do this. Certainly, the best DMs I've played with have all been able to customize their campaigns to their players, perceive fluctuations in player satisfaction and take corrective actions, and at the same time provide players with things that are enough at the edge of their experiences to encourage their growth in specific directions. Its no different than the skills that a teacher has to have.

Yes, customizing a campaign should be done to your players, but you can't say that any one approach won't work for anybody. That's what I've been saying. You're the one who has claimed that certain styles of gaming are universally bad, Arms' Races, Gygaxian Deathtraps, Certain styles of storytelling and insuring the importance of small choices. And for the third or fourth time, you've brushed past me saying "I adjust for my players." I let players retrain flaws or change their effect if they wind up being unhappy with it, just because I want the flaws to be meaningful doesn't mean that I force players to take them, and if a player didn't understand then I adjust.

I adjust my style of games to the player, but I'm not willing to accept that antagonist gaming is always bad, many players really enjoy that, since it makes "winning" much more tangible to them. Or that metagame Arms' Races are universally bad as you've claimed, with one anecdote to support that.


Whether it was played by the forefathers or not has no bearing on whether it's bad or not. It's bad on its own merits.

I enjoy it, therefore it's not bad. Period. I enjoy it, I've played with people who enjoyed. Who the hell are you to tell me that what I do in my freetime that I enjoy is bad?



Times change. Acceptable things change. In the past slavery was commonly acceptable (that's what the word "forefathers" was alluding to, American forefathers kept slaves after all). It's not now. Killing was acceptable. It's not now. Torturing or inhumanely threating prisoners/war captives was acceptable. Now it's not. You get the picture. Just because someone can enjoy it doesn't make it a good idea.

Again who do you think you are, slavery? This is like wearing hoop skirts, if I want to join a hoop skirt wearing society and meet to discuss hoop skirts, it doesn't hurt anybody, much less you. And if you can't accept that there are people who enjoy wearing hoop skirts, or what-not, then I feel bad for you, because you are refusing a great deal of experience. Also how dare you, how dare you compare a hobby, a way to play a game to slavery, that is so absurd as to be genuinely offensive.

The Insanity
2014-08-25, 07:59 PM
You enjoyed it, whoopdie do. Now remind me, what does your taste have to do with facts?

If you want to be offended then be my guest. I don't care. I just compared on bad to thing to another bad thing. If you're gonna focus on one thing instead of the point then you're not wort disccusing with.
And it's not hoop skirts, because hoop skirts aren't bad. It's more like physical punishment for kids. I's bad (unless your kid is a masochist, but as they say "an exception only reinforces the rule").

AMFV
2014-08-25, 08:09 PM
You enjoyed it, whoopdie do. Now remind me, what does your taste have to do with facts?

My taste has everything to do with facts. Since the claim is that something is bad because nobody enjoys it. Since I enjoy it, then I am either lying or the claim is factually wrong and needs to be amended.



If you want to be offended then be my guest. I don't care. I just compared on bad to thing to another bad thing. If you're gonna focus on one thing instead of the point then you're not wort disccusing with.
And it's not hoop skirts, because hoop skirts aren't bad. It's more like physical punishment for kids. I's bad (unless your kid is a masochist, but as they say "an exception only reinforces the rule").

It's not like physical punishment for kids, since nobody is hurt, even metaphorically by it. Now people might come even if they don't enjoy it, but that's on them.

The Insanity
2014-08-25, 08:17 PM
My taste has everything to do with facts. Since the claim is that something is bad because nobody enjoys it. Since I enjoy it, then I am either lying or the claim is factually wrong and needs to be amended.
I don't see anyone claim that nobody enjoys it.


It's not like physical punishment for kids, since nobody is hurt, even metaphorically by it.
Heh, now you're doing what you just accused us of doing, speaking in absolutes.
Of course there are people that are hurt. Read some threads about killer DMs. People didn't enjoy your favorite DMing style, their fun was hurt, maybe more. Many almost quit roleplaying all together, some even did (overreaction IMO, but not everyone has a tough skin). One of my first games was like that. I got invested in my character, because I put a lot of work into making him and he came out perfect. Then the DM TPKed us in a bull**** way. It was very depressing. It might even be the reason why sometimes I'm having trouble investing myself into a a game. Scars for life dude.


Now people might come even if they don't enjoy it, but that's on them.
"People might not enjoy it, but who cares about those pansies". Heh, classy.

AMFV
2014-08-25, 08:28 PM
I don't see anyone claim that nobody enjoys it.

You missed them because they were implicit... "Arm's Races are Bad" has to be true for much of what was being claimed. "Antagonistic Gaming is always bad" also has to be true. To be always bad, that means that nobody can enjoy or that the negative effects of it outweigh the enjoyment.



Heh, now you're doing what you just accused us of doing, speaking in absolutes.
Of course there are people that are hurt. Read some threads about killer DMs. People didn't enjoy your favorite DMing style, their fun was hurt, maybe more. Many almost quit roleplaying all together, some even did (overreaction IMO, but not everyone has a tough skin). One of my first games was like that. I got invested in my character, because I put a lot of work into making him and he came out perfect. Then the DM TPKed us in a bull**** way. It was very depressing. It might even be the reason why sometimes I'm having trouble investing myself into a a game. Scars for life dude.

Well I'm sorry you've had bad experiences. But you have as much responsibility as a participant to state that you aren't having fun and that you want things to shift then it is partly your responsibility. High character investment is part of the reason that Death isn't final in D&D, it can be circumvented.

Also playing in the way you enjoy might turn some people off of the hobby, maybe they feel it isn't challenging enough, or exciting enough, or that there aren't defined win conditions, which makes it a pointless waste of time. So that's as bad as the alternative, frankly. Everybody won't like certain things, and that's fine, but you shouldn't have to alter your behavior based on a half-ass guess about what some people will or won't like



"People might not enjoy it, but who cares about those pansies". Heh, classy.

If they come to my house and play a game, without complaining or telling me that they don't enjoy it, for weeks on end. Then yes, they are responsible for their own enjoyment. If somebody says something I generally change things.

NichG
2014-08-25, 08:49 PM
You missed them because they were implicit... "Arm's Races are Bad" has to be true for much of what was being claimed. "Antagonistic Gaming is always bad" also has to be true. To be always bad, that means that nobody can enjoy or that the negative effects of it outweigh the enjoyment.


Thats not actually correct, and it oversimplifies what has been a fairly complex point. The question of this thread is, whether certain designs help or hinder roleplay. There's an implied 'in general' there, because of course you can always intentionally go and construct a specific counter-example by going, playing in a game, behaving a certain way, and then saying 'I roleplayed and X happened, therefore it can help roleplay. The fact that you enjoy something does not have anything at all to do with roleplay. The fact that you claim to derive inspiration for character development from metagame arms races has more to do with it, but that's one example and furthermore it produced what many would consider to be bad character development because it comes primarily from outside of the game

When I say we don't agree on axioms, this is the main point of divergence. For your claims, anything that induces you to pick some particular character option regardless of the reason counts as encouraging roleplay, because you expect people to roleplay any character option choice they make. But for people who ask that characterization be about the characters rather than the players, this is insufficient. Furthermore, its not even useful to have a discussion under your axioms because your definition is so dilute that literally everything 'encourages roleplay'. Sleeping with the girlfriend of the guy across the table from you and telling him about it encourages roleplay, because he's going to really want to have his character screw over your character now (or he may just punch you, of course). Its kind of meaningless.

AMFV
2014-08-25, 09:00 PM
Thats not actually correct, and it oversimplifies what has been a fairly complex point. The question of this thread is, whether certain designs help or hinder roleplay. There's an implied 'in general' there, because of course you can always intentionally go and construct a specific counter-example by going, playing in a game, behaving a certain way, and then saying 'I roleplayed and X happened, therefore it can help roleplay. The fact that you enjoy something does not have anything at all to do with roleplay. The fact that you claim to derive inspiration for character development from metagame arms races has more to do with it, but that's one example and furthermore it produced what many would consider to be bad character development because it comes primarily from outside of the game

The problem is that what helps one person with roleplay is not going to be necessarily something that helps another person. The same way as some actors portray roles better when they act in-character during all of filming, and others don't. And while I would accept that some people might say "It's bad character development", I'm not so sure that it is. It's not really demonstrably measurable in that case. What would make it bad is if I wasn't able to make the in-character reasons go back to match them, or if I produced something that couldn't be explained or was poorly explained, and that's a matter of practice and skill at roleplay development.

And I'll tell you what's more, my character development is really my own issue, and whether other folks like it or not isn't really my problem. The point I'm making is that it may be as valid as what they've done. I've seen characters who in my opinion were absolutely terrible constructed with a complete lack of meta-concerns, and I've seen people who are driven almost entirely by meta concerns produce amazing and interesting backstories.



When I say we don't agree on axioms, this is the main point of divergence. For your claims, anything that induces you to pick some particular character option regardless of the reason counts as encouraging roleplay, because you expect people to roleplay any character option choice they make. But for people who ask that characterization be about the characters rather than the players, this is insufficient. Furthermore, its not even useful to have a discussion under your axioms because your definition is so dilute that literally everything 'encourages roleplay'. Sleeping with the girlfriend of the guy across the table from you and telling him about it encourages roleplay, because he's going to really want to have his character screw over your character now (or he may just punch you, of course). Its kind of meaningless.

No, that isn't what I claimed, at all. I claimed that justifying an option chosen for your character encourages roleplay. And it is a very dilute definition. But you know what, the phrase "encourages meaningful roleplay" is pretty meaningless, since good roleplay is a matter of taste and varies from group to group, and what may encourage that varies from person to person.

squiggit
2014-08-25, 09:02 PM
I generally like them. Flaws can serve as an inspiration for further character development and can serve to justify character weaknesses that might otherwise be frowned upon.

Advantages/Traits/Etc. are likewise the same. I find they serve a purpose in fleshing out a character's characteristics outside the confines of your typical class/point-by/etc. character generation.

In both cases they often provide lateral progression that can't be emulated easily with traditional advancement, so I consider that another good thing too.

The Insanity
2014-08-25, 09:50 PM
To be always bad, that means that nobody can enjoy or that the negative effects of it outweigh the enjoyment.
Uhm, no, not really. Everything can be enjoyed, because humans are inherently weird, some more than others. Harking back to masochism again, it is bad for you, you're hurting yourself after all. But some people enjoy pain on a sexual level. I really shouldn't have to explain this, but knowing you, you'll probably try to argue that masochism is actually good or something silly like that.


Well I'm sorry you've had bad experiences. But you have as much responsibility as a participant to state that you aren't having fun and that you want things to shift then it is partly your responsibility.
:smallconfused:
Where did you get the notion that I didn't?


High character investment is part of the reason that Death isn't final in D&D, it can be circumvented.
Not when the entire team is dead or the DM is of the opinion that death should be final.


Also playing in the way you enjoy might turn some people off of the hobby, maybe they feel it isn't challenging enough, or exciting enough, or that there aren't defined win conditions, which makes it a pointless waste of time.
There's video games for that. :smalltongue:
No one said you can't have chellenge. But moderation is important. Smoking, drinking or eating junkfood is bad for you, but in moderation it's not that big of an issue. Gygaxian "chellenge" is like chain smoking 10 packs of cigaretes each day or drinking yourself into a coma every night. It's bad.


So that's as bad as the alternative, frankly. Everybody won't like certain things, and that's fine, but you shouldn't have to alter your behavior based on a half-ass guess about what some people will or won't like.
Duh.


If they come to my house and play a game, without complaining or telling me that they don't enjoy it, for weeks on end. Then yes, they are responsible for their own enjoyment.
Sorry, but that's a strawman. I don't see where I or anyone else said that there's no communication at all. Newsflash - communication doesn't always work.

AMFV
2014-08-25, 10:08 PM
Uhm, no, not really. Everything can be enjoyed, because humans are inherently weird, some more than others. Harking back to masochism again, it is bad for you, you're hurting yourself after all. But some people enjoy pain on a sexual level. I really shouldn't have to explain this, but knowing you, you'll probably try to argue that masochism is actually good or something silly like that.

Masochism can be a lot of fun, for some people.



:smallconfused:
Where did you get the notion that I didn't?

Well if you stayed past that point then it's on you.



Not when the entire team is dead or the DM is of the opinion that death should be final.

Adventurer's Insurance...



There's video games for that. :smalltongue:
No one said you can't have chellenge. But moderation is important. Smoking, drinking or eating junkfood is bad for you, but in moderation it's not that big of an issue. Gygaxian "chellenge" is like chain smoking 10 packs of cigaretes each day or drinking yourself into a coma every night. It's bad.

But lots of people find different things challenging. And it doesn't likely cause Psychological trauma to you, except in extreme fringe cases.



Sorry, but that's a strawman. I don't see where I or anyone else said that there's no communication at all. Newsflash - communication doesn't always work.

Well then you staying in the game is your fault, and whatever negative things happen are your fault. Sorry, that's how that is.

The Insanity
2014-08-25, 10:48 PM
Masochism can be a lot of fun, for some people.
Lol. Exactly as I predicted.


Well if you stayed past that point then it's on you.
Well then you staying in the game is your fault, and whatever negative things happen are your fault. Sorry, that's how that is.
You really should stop with those strawmen and find some real argument.


But lots of people find different things challenging.
If for some reason I don't know what my players expect from my game, I'm going to set the chellenge to an average level. From there I can lower or increase it as needed. Based on my own experience, I'd probably err on the side of caution by leaning towards the game being a bit easier than average. Fortunately, I know my group.


And it doesn't likely cause Psychological trauma to you, except in extreme fringe cases.
You're not in a position to tell me what is likely and what isn't. It almost happened to me (maybe even did) and I heard some bad things about that DM from his ex-players after I left his game. Regardless, psychological trauma was just part of an example borrowed from my own experiences. But I see you only adress the parts that might aid you in your argument.

AMFV
2014-08-25, 10:58 PM
Lol. Exactly as I predicted.

You realize that there are people in the world who aren't you? Who have tastes that are divergent from yours? For whom different things are going to be psychologically troubling.



You really should stop with those strawmen and find some real argument.

So prove me wrong... It's not a strawman to say that a player has a responsibility. The following things may have happened.

A.) You didn't enjoy the game and said nothing, that's on you. The DM isn't responsible for reading your mind. If you didn't make your lack of enjoyment plain then he or she may not have noticed it.

B.) You didn't enjoy the game, spoke up about it and then continued to play after nothing changed or you were rebuffed. This is also on you. At this point you've made your claim: "I don't want to play if such and such are this way", if you aren't willing to back that up, then that's still your fault. The DM has no obligation to change their game to suit you either, just as you have no obligation to stay.

C.) You didn't enjoy the game, spoke up, things didn't change, and you left. This is a scenario where everything is fine. Yes, you lost out on the game, but you aren't obligated to stay, nor is the DM obligated to change, this is the outcome that's best for everyone.

So which of these happened? I can see no other possibilities and if there are other factors, then by all means enlighten me, being cryptic and then berating me for not reading your mind is not going to foster a productive discussion.



If for some reason I don't know what my players expect from my game, I'm going to set the chellenge to an average level. From there I can lower or increase it as needed. Based on my own experience, I'd probably err on the side of caution by leaning towards the game being a bit easier than average. Fortunately, I know my group.

Well what's average difficulty? That's going to vary a lot depending on who you talk to. Since we're in a taste driven medium, average difficulty could mean a lot of things. From 15 minute adventuring days where you always have the resources you need to only one TPK in a session. Those could all be average depending on your group. So it's not really reasonable to say "average difficulty" since groups vary so much.



You're not in a position to tell me what is likely and what isn't. It almost happened to me (maybe even did) and I heard some bad things about that DM when I left his game from his ex-players. Regardless, psychological trauma was just part of an example borrowed from my own experiences.

Well if you have a DM whose games are so bad that people required actual legit therapy, after it. Then that's worse than anything I've ever, EVER heard about. The closest was the lady who posted a story about her Ex with Palladium who stalked her on RPGNet a while back, but that included real world abuse and stalking, so that's not even really the same thing. Complaining on the internet != Traumatized for life. At least in most cases.

And if you were generally traumatized I'm sorry, that sucks. But I don't have a lot of pity for you when you chose to be traumatized and chose to stay when it was clear the traumatic experience wasn't going to improve.

The Insanity
2014-08-26, 12:18 PM
Another pile of strawmen. :smallsigh: Sorry, I'm not interested in debating with someone who refuses to argue in good faith. And I don't reall feel like answering the parts that aren't strawmen. I already wasted enough time here, so I'm done.

Segev
2014-08-26, 12:32 PM
Another pile of strawmen. :smallsigh: Sorry, I'm not interested in debating with someone who refuses to argue in good faith. And I don't reall feel like answering the parts that aren't strawmen. I already wasted enough time here, so I'm done.

Er...

If you're going to call "strawman," you have to point out how what the strawman represents does NOT reflect what you said. Otherwise, it's hard not to read the claim as, "You refuted my points, and I have no response, but I don't want to admit it, so I am going to claim you built a strawman so I don't have to defend my position."

It really irritates me when people call "strawman" and then never prove the claim.

As an example of why this is so irritating:
"Cannibalism is a fine tradition that should not be denigrated." "How can you condone eating people!?" "Strawman! STRAWMAN! You're arguing in bad faith! Stop oppressing cannibals!"

The Insanity
2014-08-26, 02:21 PM
Maybe strawman was the wrong word. It's the only logical fallacy that I know of the top of my head and it seemed to fit at the time.
Regardless, here's how it went:
I said that I had a bad experience with a DM that used this style.
He said that it's my fault for not communicating. (that's slightly insulting because it implies that I have no social skill)
I asked where did I say that I didn't (implying that I did, but it must have been too subtle for him).
So then he shifted (the goalpost) to "it's your fault that you stayed". (again, slightly insulting, because it sounds like he thinks I'm stupid and can't deal with stuff or something)
At this point I got tired of him constantly shifting the blame on me, like it's even relevant to the argument. The fact of the matter is that he didn't know what happened and yet he felt that he has the right to pass his judgements. "It's your resposibility", "it's your own fault", etc. No ****. Where did I say it isn't (<= this part I might have confused for a strawman, although I still think it is one)? I didn't. Whether I was at fault or not is irrelevant and totally besides the point. It doesn't matter if I did something wrong. The fact remains that the game was BAD when I played, was BAD before I joined, and probably was BAD after I left. You can say "you're at fault" all you want, but that's called "victim blaming" and is not cool.

THAT is why I called his arguments strawmen and I stand by my statement. And now I can even top it off with shifting goalposts. So, over all it's not the kind of discussion that I'm interested in. Bye.

Segev
2014-08-26, 02:47 PM
As a suggestion, in the future it might get your point across better if you respond to suggestions that you should communicate better by either saying, "Perhaps, though I did the best I could at the time," or straight-out saying, "I did, though apparently I didn't get that across here." "Where does it say I didn't?" is indeed implying that you tried it, but the implication comes across as hostile and suggests that the other person is stupid for having assumed otherwise. The biggest weakness of that rhetorical device is that it is wide open to the response, "Where does it say you did?" And it gets nowhere except to make both participants more irritated and hostile.

Whether you feel it was blaming you or not, generally advice to communicate better is given in some fashion that's meant to help it be done, and to help whoever is being advised to find a way to get more out of future endeavors along those lines.

Unfortunately, your side of the discussion comes off as hostile and defensive with little support for any claim that you did all you could. Whether you did or not - and I am not judging - the way in which you argued made it look like you didn't and that you wanted to dodge any responsibility for it. Since assigning blame isn't really relevant, AMFV wasn't really trying to...except in that he was trying to prevent unfair blame being cast on those not here to speak for themselves.

That you didn't enjoy the game is sad; that you ultimately left is the right move if you couldn't find a way to improve it with the cooperation of the GM in question.

Anyway, I'm not trying to blame you here. I am just trying to let you know how this discussion came across to a third party (myself), and give suggestions for how to present yourself better in future disagreements.


Part of the reason it doesn't come off well for you is that the implications I'm seeing in the reading of it are all reasonable conclusions AMFV drew from what he was presented with, and a sense that rather than clarify where he's mistaken, you yell at him for not concluding what you wanted him to.

Again, this may not be FAIR, and I'm not trying to pound on you. But that's how it looks, so a different approach may help you come off better in the future. It may even avoid such exchanges deteriorating into what you perceive as strawmen.

I personally find that reserving accusations of logical fallacy for when somebody beligerantly refuses to listen to what I'm saying after at least two attempts to clarify prevents a lot of vitriol online. Often, a seeming strawman (in particular) is really just somebody not understanding what I meant. Clarification and investigation of what they think I mean and what they think they are telling me goes a long way.

Anlashok
2014-08-26, 02:56 PM
This has got to be the third or fourth time I've seen Insanity do this little routine: state an opinion, be disagreed with, call people disagreeing with them names, name off a bunch of random logical fallacies then smugly declare their opponents are fools and that they are leaving the thread.

It's actually starting to get a bit trite.

AMFV
2014-08-26, 04:51 PM
Maybe strawman was the wrong word. It's the only logical fallacy that I know of the top of my head and it seemed to fit at the time.
Regardless, here's how it went:
I said that I had a bad experience with a DM that used this style.
He said that it's my fault for not communicating. (that's slightly insulting because it implies that I have no social skill)

It doesn't imply that, what I said was that if you had not communicated the fault would be completely on you for failing to tell the DM.



I asked where did I say that I didn't (implying that I did, but it must have been too subtle for him).

I picked up on it, that's why it was one of the scenarios I presented in the very next post.



So then he shifted (the goalpost) to "it's your fault that you stayed". (again, slightly insulting, because it sounds like he thinks I'm stupid and can't deal with stuff or something)

I haven't shifted my goalpost. My goalpost is not: "Prove that you didn't like that sort of game" but rather, "prove that that sort of game is bad for everybody who participates" Which has been my goalpost since very early in this thread when it was initially (implicitly) claimed that antagonism and metagame arm's races were inherently bad.

So my goalpost has remained the same, you've just failed to reach it and then accused me of moving it.



At this point I got tired of him constantly shifting the blame on me, like it's even relevant to the argument. The fact of the matter is that he didn't know what happened and yet he felt that he has the right to pass his judgements. "It's your resposibility", "it's your own fault", etc. No ****. Where did I say it isn't (<= this part I might have confused for a strawman, although I still think it is one)? I didn't. Whether I was at fault or not is irrelevant and totally besides the point. It doesn't matter if I did something wrong. The fact remains that the game was BAD when I played, was BAD before I joined, and probably was BAD after I left. You can say "you're at fault" all you want, but that's called "victim blaming" and is not cool.

I asked you what happened. I presented three possible scenarios each of which I saw as plausible and discussed where I would feel the fault would lie in all of them. And I stated that it if wasn't accurate, that it would be nice if you'd give specifics.

It's only a strawman if I'm assigning a position to you that you don't hold to make you easier to discredit. If I'm saying, and I am, "This is what I think you're saying, I think this is wrong for these reasons," which I did. That's not a strawman, that's an invitation for clarification, included with a proof on the very good chance that I'm correct.

As far as "victim-blaming". If I go to a bad party every week, for weeks, I get stinking drunk and I'm miserable, then I complain about it. Am I a victim? No, I'm not. If I go to a social event, a voluntary social event that I dislike repeatedly it doesn't make me a victim. If there is other abuse involved, then it might, and I asked about that since I admitted that my scenarios were only likely not all-encompassing.



THAT is why I called his arguments strawmen and I stand by my statement. And now I can even top it off with shifting goalposts. So, over all it's not the kind of discussion that I'm interested in. Bye.

They aren't strawmen, again unless I created an argument that was similar to yours, attached the viewpoint to you to discredit you. That's a Strawman. And my goalposts haven't shifted, you just didn't even reach them in the first place. If you claim that playing Gygax-Style AD&D damages people psychologically you'd better have proof, it's as if you claimed it caused cancer, you'd have to have proof. That's a very big claim and it requires sound proof.

Lastly, I didn't mention this before but: "The Old School did it so we should too" is not a slippery slope fallacy, rather it's an Appeal to Tradition Fallacy. If I were saying, "If we let players get away with flaws for nothing then next they'll be demanding to create level 100 Octostalt monstrosities" That would be a slippery slope fallacy.

NichG
2014-08-26, 06:25 PM
If hobby gaming is getting close to causing actual psychological problems outside of that hobby behavior, that's already pretty far over the line. If I have a really bad experience eating fish, and so I never want to eat fish again, that's not going to influence my day-to-day life or cause me to be unable to function in society or take care of myself - its only 'psychological trauma' in the hands of a lawyer. That doesn't mean that it'd have no negative effect on me and my potential to enjoy things.

Gaming is like any other extended personal interaction with the same group of people. There is a large potential for influence to occur that changes the participants. That change can be negative in nature. Just because it doesn't render someone insensate in a mental asylum doesn't mean that doing things that cause people to undergo a negative change should get a pass. Everyone has responsibility here - the player has a responsibility to themselves to recognize when they're in a bad situation and to rectify it, but the DM also has a responsibility to do things in a way that doesn't harm their players and to be very aware of how their players are responding. It's not Player or DM responsibility, its Player and DM responsibility. Just because the player lets down their side doesn't absolve the DM from letting down his.



I've seen characters who in my opinion were absolutely terrible constructed with a complete lack of meta-concerns, and I've seen people who are driven almost entirely by meta concerns produce amazing and interesting backstories.


That measurement is incomplete without a 'control': have the former group construct characters in the presence of meta-concerns, and the latter group construct characters in the absence of meta-concerns. It may just be (is likely, in my opinion) that one group of people is just bad at roleplay and the other is just good at roleplay, and so the distinction here says more about the players you've picked than the meta-concerns themselves.

AMFV
2014-08-26, 06:39 PM
If hobby gaming is getting close to causing actual psychological problems outside of that hobby behavior, that's already pretty far over the line. If I have a really bad experience eating fish, and so I never want to eat fish again, that's not going to influence my day-to-day life or cause me to be unable to function in society or take care of myself - its only 'psychological trauma' in the hands of a lawyer. That doesn't mean that it'd have no negative effect on me and my potential to enjoy things.

I concur that psychological trauma is a very severe outcome, and if that's happening then there are probably other significant factors again. The problem is that what one person may enjoy another person may not. For one person Tuna may be the best thing in the world, and for another it may make them feel ill, and there's very little way to figure out that out without trying that.



Gaming is like any other extended personal interaction with the same group of people. There is a large potential for influence to occur that changes the participants. That change can be negative in nature. Just because it doesn't render someone insensate in a mental asylum doesn't mean that doing things that cause people to undergo a negative change should get a pass. Everyone has responsibility here - the player has a responsibility to themselves to recognize when they're in a bad situation and to rectify it, but the DM also has a responsibility to do things in a way that doesn't harm their players and to be very aware of how their players are responding. It's not Player or DM responsibility, its Player and DM responsibility. Just because the player lets down their side doesn't absolve the DM from letting down his.

Well the DM does NOT have a responsibility to change. The DM has a responsibility to take what a player says into consideration. If it is something the DM is comfortable changing the DM should change it. To be honest I've often changed things on player requests, but that doesn't mean that every time a player is unhappy with something I should change fundamentally the way I'm doing things. That leads to what I call the "Man, Boy and Donkey" Problem, that is you can't make everybody happy, and if you try you'll be unhappy and so will everybody else.

It's the responsibility of a DM to be honest with a player if something is something they feel they can change and still retain enjoyment of the game. If they can't then they need to have a serious discussion to determine if that's something the player can tolerate, then they could suggest other options, like running a second game in a different system, or having a different player DM occasionally, there are other options before leaving the group comes up, although sometimes that is the only option.



That measurement is incomplete without a 'control': have the former group construct characters in the presence of meta-concerns, and the latter group construct characters in the absence of meta-concerns. It may just be (is likely, in my opinion) that one group of people is just bad at roleplay and the other is just good at roleplay, and so the distinction here says more about the players you've picked than the meta-concerns themselves.

Well I've seen good characters built with lots of meta-concerns, and good characters built based on entirely roleplay concerns. Since I've seen all possible relationships occur I have to assume that there is not a strong correlation, if one exists. Also your experiment would in and of itself be flawed. Since different people produce good products under different conditions. So a person who is not good at coming up with characters without meta-concerns present, would remain bad at that, even if they were good at the reverse, and vis versa. A person should use whatever method produces good characters for them, and that may be different. For me, not to sound too self-centered, I've produced characters that I would say are pretty good entirely from roleplay concerns, and entirely from building the build I wanted. So there is certainly potential for good characters in either, and in as honest a self-evaluation as I can get, neither method was (for me) superior, they were just equivalent. I suspect that for many, one method or the other would be better, but not necessarily both.

mikeejimbo
2014-08-26, 07:04 PM
I don't tend to like "Flaws" because they tend to come paired with "Advantages" and it usually comes down to a game of "Mechanical advantages balanced by 'roleplaying' flaws." ("So my guy is colorblind and bad at math, which gives me enough points for 'steady hand' for +2 on all my gun tests!")

You shoot the guard and run into the room where the device is counting down. You have 30 seconds before it goes off. Your walkie-talkie squeaks.

"Cut the red wire!"

"I'm colorblind! Is there another way I can tell which wire to cut?" you cry back, nearly panicking.

"Umm yeah, OK, I think I know the general design of this circuit... how are you with Kirchhoff's laws?"

emeraldstreak
2014-08-27, 03:48 AM
In my experience flaws that don't give mechanical benefit (points for traits or whatever) enhance the game immensely as players pick them up to roleplay them.

Meanwhile, flaws that give mechanical benefit and traits are picked for said benefits, they don't contribute much to roleplay, generally.

AMFV
2014-08-27, 07:33 AM
In my experience flaws that don't give mechanical benefit (points for traits or whatever) enhance the game immensely as players pick them up to roleplay them.

Meanwhile, flaws that give mechanical benefit and traits are picked for said benefits, they don't contribute much to roleplay, generally.

Well, as I said earlier, I think it depends on your player. For me having the mechanics makes it more real (which I know doesn't make sense), but it does. Having a list of flaws (or complications as in M&M) that have no real mechanical bearing seems like they aren't present. Which is harder for me to roleplay, although not impossible by any means.

Segev
2014-08-27, 05:25 PM
Speaking for myself, I find myself, in the heat of a game, always trying to minimize the negative impact of things on my ability to succeed. This includes influencing my internal gauge on whether a flaw will impede me and by how much. If a flaw therefore has a definite mechanical rule about how it operates, it is more likely to be consistent and have interesting consequences.