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Altrunchen
2014-11-10, 01:08 PM
D&D: The Problem With Magic

As a dungeon master, I very much dislike how saturated D&D is with magic. I personally like stories where magic is scarce but when it appears it is highly significant. My favorite example is J.R.R. Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings where there are five wizards in the entire world, two of which never even appear in the story. In this story, magic is special, it is rare, and so whenever it does appear, it has that much more of an impact on the reader and anyone engrossed in the story. It enhances things and makes the world more fantastical. The rarity of magic accents the story, it isn't the crutch of it.

Magic in Dungeons and Dragons, however, is far from special, in fact it's expected. And that's what I hate about it. There is nothing truly special about it. Most players have seen it all and done it all and generally don't roleplay experiencing magic as anything other than "Oh, wizard, cast magic missile...whatever that is...and help us do more damage per second...". It's just a means for the players to have yet another power fantasy. It really does not contribute to developing characters or story. It's just a game mechanic that the D&D community has become addicted to. But I more often than not feel that magic severely hurts role-play. I say this because, there are so many situations where the party might have to work together to overcome an obstacle that can be avoided if a caster has the right spell. There is no bonding, no communication, no real danger or adventure. All that happens is someone says "Hey wizard, cast a spell to get us up this wall." and rarely anything else.

I remember when I first picked up D&D 3.5e how my friends told me how magic was over-powered in this edition. Over the following years I began to see what they meant. Then when I started to play AD&D 2e I began to see how magic was over-powered in that edition too. And I'm starting to draw the conclusion that magic has always been over-powered and that it is inherently so for a very simple reason. You, as a DM, are giving the players direct control over their world and letting them have a role-play bypass. With magic, puzzles, riddles, and even potentially difficult decisions can all be whisked away if the caster has the right spell. It may be fun to have such power, but wouldn't it be more fun to to work together with the group of people you are meeting with to solve problems instead of being a magical primadonna? Isn't working together the whole point of playing D&D? Otherwise why not just go play a single-player video game?

I once ran a low-magic campaign where casters were essentially banned. And to my delight I found that the party was indeed forced to work out situations together, to plan, to coordinate their efforts, to collaborate, and that it made the experience stronger. I've found that campaigns with casters in them generally feel...more game-like in the sense that, for example:

-The only reason the cleric/paladin hangs with the group is because they need a healer.
-The only reason the druid hangs with the group is because one player is really into nature, and the party needs a caster/healer.
-The only reason the wizard/sorcerer hangs with the group and doesn't just sit in an office and study magic all day is because the party needs an arcane caster.

Do you see what I am getting at? The magic-level of core D&D is so high, that magic has become a crutch upon-which the game depends on (I'd argue) too heavily. Casters are expected to be part of the group. Magic items are expected to be found after a boss-fight. Magic is expected by the players, and because of that, it's no longer special and to me, it's not interesting. I argue that most D&D players are spoiled with magic and that low-magic campaigns promote role-playing far more than high-magic campaigns unless your party is peopled with very talented and passionate players who use magic to enhance their role-playing rather than just meeting needs with an all-too-easily exploited game-mechanic.

Honestly, if I could have my way entirely with a campaign. Casters would be banned entirely and most classes would lose their spells.

Think about it, how many fables, myths, legends, and so on had main characters who had magical powers that they completely understood right from the get-go? Not many classic ones anyways, but modern literature and entertainment has started to incorporate this more and more. But think about it for a moment, lots of classic stories had wizards and witches as background characters, as people who help the main character and who help establish the story. Magic was there to help establish conflict and tension, and it was the characters who had to rise to the occasion to solve those conflicts. Granted, many stories subscribe to the rule that "Magic must defeat magic!" but there's a balance to be had. It's not like some evil wizard appears, and the character instantly knows the spells he/she needs to defeat them and then just does so because they could cast their spell faster. Do you know why? Because that would be boring, there would be no story to listen to apart from:

"A wild evil wizard appeared!"
"Party Sorcerer used Evard's Black Tentacles!"
"It's super effective!"
"wild evil wizard faints."

The stakes are just higher when magic is rarer. And even more so when the character who has to undo evil has to face against magic with magic of their own that they may not entirely understand. Frodo was not a caster, nor was Sam, or even Gollum. Gandalf was, and he "died" fighting a monster that the rest of the party could only run from. Now don't get me wrong, Gandalf is an awesome character. But that just shows how OP magic is. The rest of the party just crutches along on the caster while the person playing the caster has their power fantasy with little reason to try to role-play.

The truth is, D&D players are addicted to magic and the power that comes with it. But haven't you ever noticed how many fights start regarding magic? Even in the infamous 8-bit D&D, a parody of D&D players, an argument starts around magic. And don't even get me started on my own experiences...

My point is, I think the real way to fix the op-nature of magic is to mitigate it's involvement in campaigns. I have some suggestions as to how to do this:

Magic Control Suggestions:

Just because you level-up, doesn't mean you instantly learn new spells.
Leveling up only means you are capable of learning new spells.
Spells are learned either by buying them to study and master over time, learning from a tutor, and/or as a quest reward.
Casters are few and far between in terms of a caster / population ratio.
Remove material components and xp costs, the rarity and aforementioned limitations will make getting the spells that have those requirements all the harder to obtain anyways.
Make players invent their own magic words for each spell. If they're going to role-play a caster, then make them actually role-play a caster.
Magic items cannot be bought from a store. Quest-rewards only.
Enchanted weapons and armor are super rare and generally quest-linked.
Wizards, Sorcerers, Clerics, and Druids are NPC classes only.
Rangers don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Monks don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Bards don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Paladins are rare as can be. 5% chance of existing.


Bottom line: I don't like how overly-abundant magic is in D&D. And I personally wish that caster classes were limited to Npcs altogether. Yes I know that characters will die easier if they cannot get healed, but that just means that you should be more careful in general and not just rush into combat if you can help it.

Galen
2014-11-10, 01:11 PM
If you want to control the ubiquity of magic this way, my best suggestion is to find another roleplaying system. D&D isn't really made for magic-lite or for magic-is-rare-and-wonderful playstyle.

Altrunchen
2014-11-10, 01:14 PM
If you want to control the ubiquity of magic this way, my best suggestion is to find another roleplaying system. D&D isn't really made for magic-lite or for magic-is-rare-and-wonderful playstyle.

I'd beg to differ but something tells me we'd be better off to agree to disagree on this.

Nicol Bolas
2014-11-10, 01:20 PM
I have to agree with him.

I don't know why most D&D players attempt to shoe-horn D&D into a variety of campaign settings. D&D handles exactly one campaign setting: High-magic fantasy with utter disregard for realism. And it doesn't even handle it all that well.

D&D really isn't a great system when you start to break down its mechanics and ignore legacy really.

Anyway, if you want a magic-light system I heartily recommend GURPS or FATE. FATE has the gritty realistic combat system with less of an emphasis on magic that I think you would enjoy.

Esprit15
2014-11-10, 01:25 PM
I'd beg to differ but something tells me we'd be better off to agree to disagree on this.

The thing is, I think that's the crux of your problem: DnD does expect a high magic game. You can see it in the fact that monsters scale far faster than most mundane characters can deal with sans magic items. You see it in things like assassins, a profession that historically has nothing to do with magic, gaining spell casting. DnD is made for high magic games.

Valefor Rathan
2014-11-10, 01:29 PM
As a thought experiment I think the proposed changes are interesting.

Start by creating a new world/plane, from scratch, from the beginning of time/civilization. Maybe the only casters in the world are the players and they don't know until some predetermined plot-point or level? Then there are no magic items and there is no body to learn from. The players have to create a the magic system for themselves (with DM guidance and approval).

Maybe some monsters don't exist on this plane due to the extreme lack of magic.

Honestly it's a setting I've been toying with over the last couple weeks and find it appealing.

If that's not really the level of brain-sweat you want to exert, I think most of the changes you proposed could work, though the idea of casters as NPCs-only seems a little rough.

Thrudd
2014-11-10, 01:54 PM
If you want low magic D&D, the best edition using RAW would be Basic/Expert. However, there are tons of mods/house rules you could use to make a setting where magic is more special. Have all pc's start out as a non casting class, and let them learn spells that they find on scrolls as loot, which can come up as rarely as you want. Change or don't use monsters that can only be hit by magic. Magic items also can come up as loot as rarely as you want, and certainly should not be available for sale (that's a thing from 3.5e). Quests hunting down a single spell or magic item would be special and appealing. Wizards and magic using priests would be rare and scary enemies or mysterious npc's. A guy with a magic sword or shield would be a big deal. Instead of + 1 things, magic items should all do something special and unique, like a helm if water breathing, or an amulet of protection from fire. This is totally doable in D&D.

Jay R
2014-11-10, 01:57 PM
I just finished a great 2E campaign with very little magic.

Casters got two spells as they advanced, and had to research new ones or find spells.

At 10th-11th level, we each had a single +1 magic weapon, and a broach with which we could communicate. Most of the warriors had some magic armor, up to +2. My thief/wizard had a +1 bow, the broach, a Boccob's Blessed Book, and a few scrolls, up to third level.

The game was lots of fun, and worked well.

There's no problem keeping the party magic-light, as long as the opposition is too.

Tengu_temp
2014-11-10, 02:13 PM
Magic Control Suggestions:

Just because you level-up, doesn't mean you instantly learn new spells.
Leveling up only means you are capable of learning new spells.
Spells are learned either by buying them to study and master over time, learning from a tutor, and/or as a quest reward.
Casters are few and far between in terms of a caster / population ratio.
Remove material components and xp costs, the rarity and aforementioned limitations will make getting the spells that have those requirements all the harder to obtain anyways.
Make players invent their own magic words for each spell. If they're going to role-play a caster, then make them actually role-play a caster.
Magic items cannot be bought from a store. Quest-rewards only.
Enchanted weapons and armor are super rare and generally quest-linked.
Wizards, Sorcerers, Clerics, and Druids are NPC classes only.
Rangers don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Monks don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Bards don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Paladins are rare as can be. 5% chance of existing.



Those are really bad ways to fix this problem, because they don't address the issue of magic being overpowered - as soon as a spellcaster actually appears, it's going to dominate the game anyway. Even more so, in fact, since everyone else sucks due to not having access to magic items. Also, removing magic from rangers and bards without giving them anything in return? That nerfs them horribly and make them totally not worth it. It's better to just play a fighter or a rogue. Finally, your "without magic healing players will just have to be more careful" conclusion is brushing aside a vital aspect of the game. DND 3e assumes you have access to some kind of magical healing, and makes hit points a resource that's easily expanded and easily regained. Characters who are limited to mundane healing will spend ages curing their wounds after every fight, especially at higher levels. As a player, I'd find that really frustrating.

My suggestion for you is to play a different game, one that's built from the get-go with the idea that magic is rare and wonderful, and one where characters don't need access to magic items in order to heal or function as intended for their level. Riddle of Steel does a good job at it, I heard, though I haven't played it personally. Or if you really have to stick with DND, play 4e and use inherent bonuses, and limit access to non-martial classes. Not sure how a non-spellcaster game of 5e would look, but it's a possible option too.

Nicol Bolas
2014-11-10, 02:15 PM
Those are really bad ways to fix this problem, because they don't address the issue of magic being overpowered - as soon as a spellcaster actually appears, it's going to dominate the game anyway. Even more so, in fact, since everyone else sucks due to not having access to magic items. Also, removing magic from rangers and bards without giving them anything in return? That nerfs them horribly and make them totally not worth it. It's better to just play a fighter or a rogue. Finally, your "without magic healing players will just have to be more careful" conclusion is brushing aside a vital aspect of the game. DND 3e assumes you have access to some kind of magical healing, and makes hit points a resource that's easily expanded and easily regained. Characters who are limited to mundane healing will spend ages curing their wounds after every fight, especially at higher levels. As a player, I'd find that really frustrating.

My suggestion for you is to play a different game, one that's built from the get-go with the idea that magic is rare and wonderful, and one where characters don't need access to magic items in order to heal or function as intended for their level. Riddle of Steel does a good job at it, I heard, though I haven't played it personally. Or if you really have to stick with DND, play 4e and use inherent bonuses, and limit access to non-martial classes. Not sure how a non-spellcaster game of 5e would look, but it's a possible option too.

4e actually handles low-to-no magic better than most. Try Dark Sun.

Honest Tiefling
2014-11-10, 03:08 PM
I don't really like the themes of magic of DnD. I agree with you on many points, but I think your approach to spellcasting might not get the results you want. Firstly, limiting magical items can hurt marital very badly. No access to certain tricks, they tend to get hit more then people who can run and hide more easily, and no way to punch through DR without certain classes.


Just because you level-up, doesn't mean you instantly learn new spells.
Leveling up only means you are capable of learning new spells.
Spells are learned either by buying them to study and master over time, learning from a tutor, and/or as a quest reward.
I am not actually fond of this idea. It might work for a few missions, but very quickly the caster will become useless, or need to strong arm the party into doing what they want to get them new spells. I think this is an issue that needs addressing, but you might be better off with just allowing sorcerers.


Casters are few and far between in terms of a caster / population ratio.
No problem here, except that it means that multiple people cannot play casters. I suggest at least coming up with some ideas as to why super-duper rare casters are together. (Trained together in a school or by another mage would work.) Not letting people play their favorite classes can lead to a lot of missed fun.



Remove material components and xp costs, the rarity and aforementioned limitations will make getting the spells that have those requirements all the harder to obtain anyways.
Seems fair, but you might want to ban most spells with an XP cost and even those with material compoents can sometimes get a bit iffy. But I never liked the idea of wizards tossing around bat poop at each other, so I never liked material components anyway.


Make players invent their own magic words for each spell. If they're going to role-play a caster, then make them actually role-play a caster.
This one I vehmently disagree with. Firstly, waving your arms like a lunatic and sprouting gibberish is not good roleplay. A thirst for arcane knowledge, or a mystic bent to a character, or a religious connection can be the start of an interesting character. This is just going to get silly and stupid fast. If you have an issue with your character's roleplay, speak to the players!


Magic items cannot be bought from a store. Quest-rewards only.
Enchanted weapons and armor are super rare and generally quest-linked.
Again, your fighter is more affected by this then your average sorcerer. This is something to do carefully. Quest reward artifacts are nice, and can add to a story. But not if by having them, you get steamrolled by monster below your CR.


Wizards, Sorcerers, Clerics, and Druids are NPC classes only.
So...If the group needs healing or arcane magic, they rely on an NPC instead? I think this one is just plain overboard. Then again, this is pretty much my list of preferred classes, almost in order.


[List]
Rangers don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Monks don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Bards don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Paladins are rare as can be. 5% chance of existing.


Pretty nerfy all around. Also, I do not get why paladins would be rare, unless it is a statement about how few people have the will and the moral strength to do so. A low-power game can be fun, but I don't think having people have a 1 in 10 chance of just being plain better then another person of the same class is a good idea.

Sartharina
2014-11-10, 03:10 PM
My suggestion? Cast D&D to the curb.

Vitruviansquid
2014-11-10, 03:17 PM
The rarer you make magic, the stronger the magician becomes. Your droll Saturday morning Cloudkill in standard 3.5 becomes an awe-inspiring miracle if you reduce the number of people who can cast it.

But look, man. DnD 3.5 is cool. I get that. But to flatly reject any other system after you've realized you don't know some aspect of DnD 3.5 is denying the morsel you've been offered on a silver platter. If you shop around, you can probably find systems specifically created by guys who sat around playing DnD 3.5, and then thought they should write a system that's just like it, but with less magic. None of these other systems are probably as expensive as 3.5 either, because WotC has the manpower to make tons of material that a lot of other writers don't have.

If you want to fix the magic system being too overwrought and pervasive in 3.5, you also have to fix its mundane systems being too anemic and boring.

BaronDoctor
2014-11-10, 04:20 PM
Well, let me just ask this question: are monsters similarly "No magic for you", or is this specifically to hose players?

Finieous
2014-11-10, 04:21 PM
I once ran a low-magic campaign where casters were essentially banned. And to my delight I found that the party was indeed forced to work out situations together, to plan, to coordinate their efforts, to collaborate, and that it made the experience stronger.

[...]

Honestly, if I could have my way entirely with a campaign. Casters would be banned entirely and most classes would lose their spells.


So...keep running no- or low-magic campaigns. As long as your players buy in, what's the problem? I've played in lots of games like this, and contrary to the opinions of some other posters, I think D&D handles it fine with some campaign-appropriate house rules. Have fun!

Yora
2014-11-10, 04:28 PM
My D&D worlds are always capped at 10th level. There are a few rare people who are 10th level, but almost everyone else is much lower, similar to E6 worlds. Also, I plan adventures in a way that doesn't allow for the group to take a break until the next day whenever it pleases them, things are still happening around them and at some point the train will leave the station, if they have kept up or not.

I never had any problems with too much magic in my campaigns.

Note: I don't make magic wands with 50 charges available in stores, though. That's one way in which I actively interfere with the rules as written.

Sartharina
2014-11-10, 04:34 PM
Well, let me just ask this question: are monsters similarly "No magic for you", or is this specifically to hose players?Well, if you 'hose' players, that just means monsters get set to higher CRs.

Knaight
2014-11-10, 04:48 PM
On magic bypassing the plot, a lot of it is just the sheer breadth of magic. There are games with fairly powerful magic, where the limits mean you can't just get past it. REIGN is a good example - magic can do a lot, but nobody is reading minds, nobody is directly controlling another person, etc. The closest it gets to direct control is threatening somebody with magic, which isn't substantively different than what can be done with mundane means. It's also a game which is pretty much made for political intrigue, so those limitations really hurt.

With that in mind, a good way to start the restrictions is to set out what magic can and can't effect, and just start cutting. Maybe you want REIGN's restriction, and the Charm and Dominate lines need to go entirely. Maybe summoning needs to leave. Then, after the scope has been narrowed, the quantity can be worked on.

Honest Tiefling
2014-11-10, 04:53 PM
Whitelisting spells might be a good idea. As much as I love casters, I do have to admit that Overland Flight and Teleport tend to nip travel plots in the bud, if not outright stomp upon them.

Komatik
2014-11-10, 06:25 PM
Haven't read the thread yet, but me and my friends have struggled with the Fireball Problem. Where there aren't really Wise Old Men because they're spell dispensers. Fireball is lame. People doing overt sorcerous magic is great but it's lacking somehow. Wat do?

The answer I came to after pondering why series like Juuni Kokki (The Twelve Kingdoms) and especially Seirei no Moribito felt so damn good to watch. They really sold you that ancient, mythical east vibe. But why?

Moribito had amazing things in it. The shaman spoke to water spirits and did some really overt sorcery stuff. Another shaman retrieved a girl from the spirit world with the aid of flower wine.

In Robin Hobb's Soldier Son trilogy the human military used small spells like "hold fast" charms to securely fasten their saddles.

That's when it hit me. A huge part of the Moribito and Juuni Kokki experience is the presence of rituals and superstition throughout. The nectar of a certain flower enables mortals to walk in the spirit world, there's bird-bone charms hanging from windows and the arches of village gates, presumably to ward away evil spirits. You actually plunge your head underwater to talk to water spirits.

The superstition is the big thing. Both its omnipresence and the fact that some of it was real. Some that even laymen used commonly, some that they could use but wouldn't know about, some that were only usable by sorcerers or had their potency greatly enhanced if used by one.

So, what if we built a magic system of two parts? One handled actual sorcerers - creatures with magic in their blood that can tell reality to STFU and do as it's told. Rare, powerful, dangerous in the extreme.

The other part would be essentially a giant list of superstitions. Stuff like:

Garlic:
Details about use of garlic.
Superstition: Repels and/or discomforts vampires

Opium:
Details about use of opium
Effect: details about getting high as a kite.
Superstition: Allows the user glimpses into the spirit world, perhaps giving him prophetic or otherwise divinatory visions.
Ritual (scholar/sorcerer): Use of opium grants the sorcerer controlled access to the spirit world [insert mechanics here]

Salt:
Details about common uses of salt.
Ritual (scholar): Laying a ring of salt and incanting the proper commands compels the spirits that rule over the night to guard the ritualist. Undead and spirits are barred from entering the circle or disturbing it as long as the circle remains intact.


Basically, superstitions and rituals with real magical effects (let's call them charms here) are laws about how your particular world works. The salt thing may or may not be true in a setting, but if it is, it's a thing anyone with proper knowledge can do.

This way, we get a world full of interesting superstitions for texture. The old learned scholar is a worthwhile thing - he knows what superstitions are silly, and what carry real power. He may indeed have whole books listing out rituals and odds and ends that may prove useful. We also naturally acquire a staple of much of Warhammer and general fantasy fiction: The cultist who is after occult knowledge to summon demons and looking to sell his soul for power - the cultist can be any random Joe Schmoe, the occult knowledge rituals, power gained demonic possession where the cultist gains Sorcerer abilities.

*The inborn magic of sorcerers should be heavily thematised. Druidic, necromancy, illusions, "holy", so forth. Preferably not death rays.

Morty
2014-11-10, 06:36 PM
I can certainly sympathize with the premise, but your solution is pretty much forcing a square peg into a round hole. By stripping magic from D&D, you leave behind a very ineffectual, dull system and make what little magic remains even more game-altering. Yes, everything in D&D is about magic - you're certainly correct about that. But this is also why playing D&D while downplaying magic is a bit futile.

Grinner
2014-11-10, 07:10 PM
This way, we get a world full of interesting superstitions for texture. The old learned scholar is a worthwhile thing - he knows what superstitions are silly, and what carry real power. He may indeed have whole books listing out rituals and odds and ends that may prove useful. We also naturally acquire a staple of much of Warhammer and general fantasy fiction: The cultist who is after occult knowledge to summon demons and looking to sell his soul for power - the cultist can be any random Joe Schmoe, the occult knowledge rituals, power gained demonic possession where the cultist gains Sorcerer abilities..

I think you've got it. :smallbiggrin:

Periodically, these threads pop up, and throughout numerous discussions like this one, I've gotten the impression that it's not magic that people dislike. They rant about it, brainstorm patches, and so on, but I don't think they ever really realize what they're after. At least, they certainly never address the fundamental problem at work.

See, D&D is extremely magic-centric, but it's not very good at it. It's not really any one particular mechanic that causes this though. It's just that the whole thing is so creatively bankrupt. There's occasionally reference to some vague energy, and there's something else about Jack Vance. The problem is that the magic never seems all that "magic". It doesn't meaningfully feed into any aspect of the setting, insofar as there is one, and it certainly doesn't serve to spark the imagination. It just exists purposelessly.

Forum Explorer
2014-11-10, 07:12 PM
You might have more luck with 5e. It's still really heavy magic based, but magic items are no longer something that is bought and sold, and HP is easy to regain without casters.

You'd still need to basically ban around half of the classes though, and other modifications, but I think it'd be friendlier to the attempt then 3.5 is.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-11-10, 08:43 PM
I can somewhat empathize with your position but I don't agree with your conclusion and your "solution" fails in much the same way that is has when the last dozen or so frustsrated DM's proposed very similar ill-concieved fixes.

3rd ed D&D gets more and more magic heavy as levels increase. Low magic only really works up until about level 6 or so without fairly significant tweaking. If that's what you want out if D&D then I strongly suggest looking into E6.

As you move into mid-level you experience the game's first paradigm shift. At this point, usually around level 6-8 or so, certain adventure options fall away as new ones that wouldn't have been possible at low levels become available. At this point travel adventures really cease to be an option, at least on the material plane. Regional politics becomes an available arena. Stealth characters become all but undetectable to mundane guards. Melee characters are moving into their peak, capable of mowing down hordes of normal foes and fighting pitched battles with foes on their own level. Caster supremacy is starting to gain steam. Magic item dependency comes online for non-casters. Community buzz says that you're rolling into the game's "sweet spot" for fun vs complexity.

Then you hit high levels and another paradigm shift around 12-14 or so. Caster supremacy and item dependency are in full swing and the game becomes difficult to recognize compared to low level play. The stage of world politics, such as they may be, becomes a real possibility. Travel isn't even a thing anymore on the material plane and it's becoming trivial out on the planes. World-class threats come into play. Because of caster supremacy, casters and non-casters are starting to diverge into different games as you approach pre-epic levels.

Finally, you move into pre-epic play at level 17-20. The game is now completely unrecognizable compared to low-level play and casters and non-casters aren't even playing the same game anymore. Politics of note have moved out into the planes and threats can shake the very foundations of reality.

Some groups will continue into epic levels. At this point the game's designed mechanics only work if the players and DM put serious effort in to making them. Epic spellcasting wins the game, period, unless the DM or player intentionally under-plays it. Direct interactions with the gods and lords of the planes becomes a real possibility.

Realistically, the OP's attitude really only lends itself to low level play but if you want to make low-magic work at higher levels there are ways to do it.

This is my own take on low-magic or, as I prefer to think of it, "magic emerging" play.

The only classes with vancian spellcasting are the adept from the DMG and the magewright from the Eberron campaign setting.

Ranger and paladin are returned via non-casting versions

Any item whose required spells are not on the adept or magewright list is extremely rare and, consequently, not readily available in the market, though the existence of midgard dwarves and warlocks makes them extant in the grand scale. The DMG guidelines on item availability are otherwise observed. (<-that last bit is -really- important)

That's the basics of it anyway.

As an alternative to item availability the DM could simply give all players the numeric bonuses granted by Vow of Poverty from Book of Exalted Deeds to keep their numbers up or use the DMG2 guidelines for bonded items. The third party supplement Magic of Rokugan also has some material to cover the fact that there's no market for magic items in that setting.

If the caster class restriction strikes you as too stringent you could allow the list casters (healer, warmage, beguiler, and dread necromancer). Ultimately, however, it's nearly impossible to achieve a low-magic feel with the core casters or anything that draws from the same spell lists without gutting those spell lists.

Finally, while it is possible to play low-magic D&D 3e, the system isn't ideal for it. You should probably give serious consideration to other systems.

And since I commented on it, here's another breakdown of the OP's thoughts on magic control.


Magic Control Suggestions:


Answers in bold

Just because you level-up, doesn't mean you instantly learn new spells.
Leveling up only means you are capable of learning new spells.
Spells are learned either by buying them to study and master over time, learning from a tutor, and/or as a quest reward.

congratulations, you've just ensured that any player interested in mechanical power will gravitate toward the strongest options by ensuring that his limited access demands it. Incidentally, those latter two have never been a problem for wizards before so they don't really change much.

Casters are few and far between in terms of a caster / population ratio.

This is already true. According to the DMG demographics guidelines less than 1% of a given population is comprised of spellcasters.

Remove material components and xp costs, the rarity and aforementioned limitations will make getting the spells that have those requirements all the harder to obtain anyways.

What? Even if I presume you mean just expensive components and xp costs this is a terrible idea. Those limits exist to limit how often those spells can be reasonably cast because allowing them to be cast without limit would be far too powerful in most cases. I thought the goal was to nerf castersand this is a major buff.

Make players invent their own magic words for each spell. If they're going to role-play a caster, then make them actually role-play a caster.

This is just distasteful. You're telling your players that, because you dislike their implementation in the game, they can only play spellcasters if they're willing to make asses of themselves at the table. A DM is supposed to limit disruptions to the game, not cause them.

Magic items cannot be bought from a store. Quest-rewards only.
Enchanted weapons and armor are super rare and generally quest-linked.

Way to limit the non-casters ability to not die horribly. The numeric portion of the system presumes that all classes have access to certain basic magic item effects, specifically the simple +X to Y attribute effects, and their absence skews the numbers heavily in favor of the monstrous enemies. Casters can mitigate this with their spells but many of the best defensive spells are personal spells and buff-botting is generally less effective than quickly disabling foes. These points cement the already secure caster supremacy situation.

Wizards, Sorcerers, Clerics, and Druids are NPC classes only.

Better to just ban them outright. One of the draws of 3e is the PC - NPC transparency and keeping the most powerful classes in the game for yourself while disallowing them to the players is a bit of a faux pas.

Rangers don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Monks don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Bards don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.

In order; unnecessary nerf, nonsense (monks don't get spells anyway), and severe and unnecessary nerf (makes bard an NPC class).

Paladins are rare as can be. 5% chance of existing.

Already rarer than that, unless you mean to say a player actually has to roll a die if he wants to play a paldin and you say no if he doesn't make his existence check?

BeerMug Paladin
2014-11-10, 09:17 PM
I think I'd have to agree with others that a different system might be in order. I ran a 3.5 campaign once set in a fantasy-steampunk sort of world, with redesigned casters. Wizards had a limited pool of mana and could memorize a certain number of spell levels based on their character level, and sorcerers were basically superpowers.

Essentially, wizards were versatile but nobody could beat the raw power of sorcerers at their specialized fields. I was going to redesign divine casters as well, but besides a different flavor of wizard, I couldn't quite get them to work out how I wanted. So I left them as is. (Wizards could learn curing magic anyway at double the spell level cost, too. So it wasn't an issue.)

For the setting, healing magic was also granted directly by divine intervention to especially devoted followers of their alignment, it didn't really require being a divine caster. I think I translated a 1/minute cure light wounds into a feat, given that one had some knowledge (religion) and was devoted to a particular divine path. But I don't recall if I wrote that down and presented it to my players.

In my opinion, I don't think my changes worked very well. If I were ever to run something in that campaign world again, I think I would probably look into a different system entirely. Or just make my own system. I think in order to get something where you give magic a different flavor, you'd need to completely redesign things from the bottom up.

Mr Beer
2014-11-10, 11:47 PM
Personally, I would pick a different system. I second the poster who said GURPS or FATE. I've played both, they are great systems. GURPS is crunchy and highly simulationist, FATE is game focussed and much 'lighter'. Importantly, they can handle any setting and certainly a low magic fantasy one.

DeadMech
2014-11-11, 12:13 AM
It really says more about the creativity of the people playing the game than anything inherently wrong with DnD when the spell casters of a party have no reason to tag along but do anyway.

The reason a wizard leaves his academy shouldn't be much different than the reason the barbarian leaves his tribe. Because somewhere out there either there is something that they want or something that will threaten what they care for.

Everyone is safer staying home, plying their trade locally, raising a family. That's why most people do it. Adventurers go out and take the risks others will not. Why? Because with great risk comes great reward.

The curator of a museum gets to show off artifacts of the ages but it wasn't her who goes out and finds them in the first place. A librarian might have a book about the exotic creatures of the world but he wasn't the one who went into the jungle and lived beside them to write it.

The wizard who never leaves his college reading tomes isn't overcoming challenges. He's never going to grow as a caster. He's never going to learn anything that either wasn't already in the library or deducible from it. It's going to be his peer who leaves to brave the dusty tombs, ruins of dead civilizations, and even alien hostile plane of existance who recovers some powerful artifact or secrets lost or never known. And when she returns she'll have spells that he never could have dreamed of and stories of defeating evil or apathetic beings that he didn't even know existed. The fact that he even draws breath is because she already stopped the horrors of the beyond.

In my current game I'm playing a crusader. Why? Because the team needed a front line. So I as a player stepped in to fill that role. My character though has a reason to travel. The dm hadn't told us the quest yet so I made up a story about someone in his order betraying him and getting his friends and peers killed. He wasn't going to find them staying home fending off the occasional goblin raid or breaking up drunken bar fights with the city watch or something. Even the quest dropped infront of him by the DM and potentially a deity is viewed through his eyes as a convenient excuse to go search.

All that is still fairly cliche in my mind though sometimes that's fun anyway. Not like motivation can't be nearly anything you an think of.

Magic is certainly not balanced against mundane but I'd still rather play high fantasy DnD. The only low magic DnD I've seen played looked rather tedious to me, though that might just be the antagonist dm for it.

NichG
2014-11-11, 12:24 AM
I think in order to get something where you give magic a different flavor, you'd need to completely redesign things from the bottom up.

Yes, this I think is really the key point. You can do this with 3.5ed D&D as a base, but you really do have to commit to a full reworking of things rather than just a quick patch on the rules. Otherwise you end up with something like the base d20 Modern, which is basically 'D&D without magic, monsters, or high-powered characters' but is pretty much absent of interesting stuff to replace what's been taken out.

Game-wise, magic's function in D&D is to provide a large number of options that individually do not require a lot of character commitment - it's basically the ability for the party to adjust their competencies a bit for a particular situation before heading in. If you're a fighter who needs to deal with a flying enemy, you can buy a potion that lets you fly for a short time, or get a wizard to cast Fly on you, or get a magic item that provides flight. In a modern game, that role might be played by 'gadgets', for example. That role itself is actually pretty important, because otherwise the tendency of the game system to reward focusing on a particular schtick ends up either encouraging the players to only do particular kinds of quests ('I don't want to do a diplomacy mission because I put all my resources into hitting things really hard') or to try to force things into their schtick ('Diplomacy mission? Who was it who said that war is just the natural extension of diplomacy?')

So you either need to replace that function with something roughly equivalent but not-magic, or change the system at a deep level to make it so that it provides and encourages a lot more versatility in non-magical classes than already exists.

jedipotter
2014-11-11, 12:35 AM
Bottom line: I don't like how overly-abundant magic is in D&D. And I personally wish that caster classes were limited to Npcs altogether. Yes I know that characters will die easier if they cannot get healed, but that just means that you should be more careful in general and not just rush into combat if you can help it.

I agree with a lot of what you have said, and that is why my D&D game has lots of house rules. Except I don't like rare magic, I like mysterious and unknown magic. And I control the game with high powered magic. And that works great to restore the balance, as no matter how good or powerful the PC's get, there is always plenty to stop them.

Limiting spells is a great way to limit spellcaster power. I allow all D&D Wizard spells in my game, but most players stick to the ''top 20 must have'' spells like zombies, so they often over look the other 3,000 spells and that works out great for the game. Not that many players look through the spells anyway. Plus add the other 1,000 from the other d20 books that the players don't have and the other 2,000 some homebrewed ones. and the players only get to know ''a bit'' of the magic out there.

And I have lots of spell and magic fixes, so lots of the ''great'' spells the players are obsessed with are not so ''great''.

In the setting I divide spells up by how rare they are and how well they are know to each race. So the PC's can have a hard time finding spells in the game.

And to top it all off, I have lots of house rules....many of them secret....that change the game.

Sartharina
2014-11-11, 12:41 AM
And to top it all off, I have lots of house rules....many of them secret....that change the game.:elan: Dun dun DUN!

A wild Orcus has appeared!

Pex
2014-11-11, 01:12 AM
If you don't like magic, that's your prerogative. However, D&D is not wrong or The Suck for being filled with magic. It's not a problem. It's not a fault. It's not a blame. It's not a bug. It's just not suitable to your preference of game style. You could very well play a game with only fighters, barbarians, and rogues if that's what you want. You can ban everything and the kitchen sink. That doesn't make you right and D&D wrong with how it approaches being a roleplaying game. It's just not your taste. Instead of trying to turn D&D into your preferred method and getting all frustrated and angry at the game, yes, play a different game system.

jedipotter
2014-11-11, 01:32 AM
:elan: Dun dun DUN!

A wild Orcus has appeared!


Exactly!

Sure some people like the Basic D&D game where ''I do X and X happens'', just like a video game....and gray scale 8 bit video game with 24 sounds....

But having a PC cast clutch of Orcus and getting an additional result of three acidborn fiendish vultures that wildly attack everyone is much more fun then ''My character casts spell A and DM says B happes and everyone nods and does a little clap''.

Arbane
2014-11-11, 05:15 AM
OP: I know there was a low-magic d20 fantasy game called Iron Gauntlets, which focused on Conan-stye heroics. You might get some inspiration from that. (For that matter, the Conan d20 game.)


The thing is, I think that's the crux of your problem: DnD does expect a high magic game. You can see it in the fact that monsters scale far faster than most mundane characters can deal with sans magic items. You see it in things like assassins, a profession that historically has nothing to do with magic, gaining spell casting. DnD is made for high magic games.

Yep.
I'd say it goes back at least as far as AD&D and it's "+1 or better to hit" monsters. (Magic swords or GTFO.)



The superstition is the big thing. Both its omnipresence and the fact that some of it was real. Some that even laymen used commonly, some that they could use but wouldn't know about, some that were only usable by sorcerers or had their potency greatly enhanced if used by one.

So, what if we built a magic system of two parts? One handled actual sorcerers - creatures with magic in their blood that can tell reality to STFU and do as it's told. Rare, powerful, dangerous in the extreme.

You might want to take a look at RuneQuest. The most recent edition I've read has "Common magic" which just about anyone can learn a little of, and does minor stuff like heal wounds, sharpen swords, confuse foes, etc, and the significantly more powerful (but much harder to get) magic like Sorcery and Divine Magic.

Mind you, RuneQuest is the exact opposite of a 'rare magic' environment - it's practically ubiquitous, but I think the Glorantha setting does a good job of making it feel 'magical'. (The fact that Glorantha is literally made of its myths helps.)


:elan: Dun dun DUN!

A wild Orcus has appeared!

Thank you for saying that so I didn't have to. The only mysterious thing about magic in Jedipotter's game is why anyone would be insane enough to use it.

Grac
2014-11-11, 09:26 AM
I have a few suggestions:
1) take a look at Adventurer, Conqueror, King.
This is my go-to suggestion for almost every complaint because over time it is showing itself to be more and more well thought-out, and more and more unified in how each aspect connects with every other aspect of the rules.
But why do I suggest it? Its OGL so the basic mechanics you know already. Its more a modernification of B/X than 3.5, however. Magic is rarer, but its not rare to the extent of Lord of the Rings. In one of the developer blogs, 3.5 is offhandedly described as recreating modern warfare: "It is easy to imagine a world where 20th century tactics developed, with magic as the equivalent of air strikes, rangers moving in loose squad-based formations, and so on. D&D as Vietnam." And then goes on to describe how in ACKS the very rules make this impossible to pull off. However magic does exist and casters, while an insignificant portion of the population do have a place on the battlefield: similar to that of cannons in the early-modern period. http://www.autarch.co/blog/mass-combat-adventurer-conqueror-king

2) alter classes:
On way to do this is make the bard the only casting class. Go through their spell list and cut it down to 12 spells per level. Since they are the the only magic class, it forces you to think about what spells you want in the game, at only 12 a level. It also means that with the cap of spells known, you can draw up different sub-lists using those spells known based in the purpose of a given caster: are they a priest? Give them priesty spells.

Hand in hand with this is the abolition of all magic weapons that only provide a bonus. Make all magic weapons and armour and trinkets give a +1 bonus, and one or two special magical effects. Make every such magic weapon at least a +3 weapon/ for the purposes of magic weapon design. Such items are not for sale in the normal sense, so it is up to you to make them rare and story appropriate.

3) check out the spells in the original OD&D booklets. Sticks to snakes. Seriously Moses style magic there. No magic missile. Very few offensive spells.

Mainly I suggest checking ACKS though!

Prince Raven
2014-11-11, 10:06 AM
Of course D&D is saturated with magic, that's exactly what they were going for when they made it. Saying that the problem with D&D is too much magic is like saying the problem with Exalted is the characters are really powerful, or that World of Darkness is too dark and gritty, or that Shadowrun is too cyberpunk.

gom jabbarwocky
2014-11-11, 10:44 AM
I agree with a lot of the OP. As a result, I don't play D&D. There are oodles of other games out there, and many get overlooked because D&D gets bent out of shape trying to be every game, when it isn't and shouldn't.

Actually, what I found to be my underlying issue with magic, not just in D&D but in most other games, is that it just doesn't feel magical. This is a problem that doesn't come from the rules, but is expressed through them - the source of the problem is how magic is generally considered in the first place. In most games, it feels as though magic is a known force that acts like science. This is weird, because then we sort of assume that the natural world in these settings obeys the laws of nature that we are accustomed to, and magic becomes a separate system on top of that - basically, think Steven Gould's "non-overlapping magisteria". But in reality, people who actually believe in magic don't see things that way, and the forces of nature and magic are one and the same. In addition, magic and how it works ought to be dependent on all kinds of vague metaphysical stuff like a person's ethics or if they have experienced true love or whatever. Essentially, things you can't quantify on a character sheet with a number.

My issue with magic in D&D isn't that it's overpowered or overemphasized, but that it is a non-mysterious force that yields reliably repeatable results and exists parallel to the natural world instead of being part of it. I'm not going to try and "fix" D&D to correct these problems because I think D&D is fine at what it does, and I'm not going to complain because I tried to use the wrong tool for the job. My issues go way beyond a few house-rules, so in cases like this it's better to look at other games that may serve you better.

NichG
2014-11-11, 10:53 AM
To follow up on my previous comment, as well as the really good comment upthread about folklore and superstitions with questionable efficacy lending to the impression of magic and special and alien even if it's very common, here's a thought for the fluff framework that you could rebuild D&D/other systems around and still preserve the necessary game elements provided by magic. I'd call this something like 'Weavers of Destiny'.


The basic idea is that the world in this system/setting is a place in which things which have had, will have, or could have had major effects on the course of history become imbued with power.

In this system, 'magic' such as it is is a finite resource - a 'spell' is not knowledge you can use to make the universe do your bidding, its a link between you and a particular historical event or ancient thing which you can draw upon for power. A legendary sword which has been carried by the kings of a nation for the past 1000 years and enables the wielder to command service of those around him is, from this viewpoint, essentially the same as a spell which lets you call upon the souls of those who died in the battle at Urghon's Pass to stop enemies in place. 'Magic', specifically, is the invocation of the power of the past - ancient events, historical objects, ancient customs or superstitions. The rub is, the power of magic is divided out across everyone who carries a link to it. Most specific sources are too weak to support more than a single user without just failing. So in the analogy of D&D, 'magic' is always loot rather than class features. Creating a new spell means rediscovering a corporeal link to ancient forgotten history that hasn't been tapped in centuries, and then giving it a form to focus it.

On the other hand, extremely ancient things - the stars above, the moon in the sky, the ground beneath one's feet - are extremely powerful sources of magic. At the same time though, all living things who behold them are considered to have a link to them, and so that powerful magic is incredibly diluted at the same time. This gives rise to what might be called 'common magic'. Anyone who learns the trick of it can look at the positions of the stars and planets when someone was born and do astrology to divine their fate, or can discover herbs in nature that call upon the healing power of the earth. This magic is ubiquitous and is simply tied to knowledge of the keys.

That's 'what has been', but I also mentioned 'what will be' and 'what could have been'. 'What could have been' is the power associated with thwarted fate, opportunity lost, etc. It tends to be a power belonging strictly to supernatural creatures - particularly ghosts etc - and due to its nature it is almost always tied to regret or ambition in some form or other. If a warlord in the ancient past could have conquered most of the world, but was stopped, then this gives birth to a demon tied to that warlord's thwarted ambition, who seeks to bring about the history that never was. Such creatures are not always evil - you could e.g. have a creature born of the failed ambition to save the lives of a city - but they're always 'driven against the status quo' to change the way the world currently is, and that tends to make them somewhat myopic in their values as well (things unrelated to their ambition don't matter to them, and this can overcome the morality of their origins or even the reason that particular ambition was pursued in the first place). This kind of power is intrinsic to the beings it forms and cannot be 'channeled' by others, though the service of beings of that nature could be commanded by others. It is also completely distinct from magic in how it interacts with things - a stone that glows in the presence of magic would not glow in the presence of a ghost, for example.

The last one is 'what will be/could be' - here we have the core mechanic of PCs. When a thousand soldiers go onto a battlefield and only ten walk away alive, there is something special that clings to those ten even if there was nothing particular about them going in. Chance, fate, whatever has made a choice, and there is a residue of that which remains upon them and can be tapped. The nature of this ability is a tendency to amplify the unusual circumstances which created them - someone whose fortune was that they survived against all odds will continue on to become even more able to survive, beyond a simple increase in skill or ability. Furthermore, history will tend to draw them into events, making clear the way for them to become involved. Mechanically, this corresponds to something like 'levels' in D&D - as an explanation why the barbarian can mundanely survive a 200ft fall, etc. Different kinds of improbabilities/fates/etc will correspond to different character classes.

This particular form of power also provides the supply of versatility that each character should be able to tap. This would take the form of a per-game resource. Essentially, as part of this destiny mechanic, each PC should be able to 'luck into' a certain number of things each game. This replaces part of the versatility that would normally be provided by spell preparation, but in-universe is a non-magical effect. It's Bilbo getting randomly recruited into a dungeon crawl, or Aragorn happening upon an army of undead that was sworn to serve his bloodline. The trickiest part of designing this system would be figuring out what kinds of things different characters can do with this sort of dramatic-editing mechanic, and making sure that they're separated by character class while giving everyone sufficient versatility to function well.

jedipotter
2014-11-11, 05:18 PM
In most games, it feels as though magic is a known force that acts like science.



I agree. This is why magic in my version of D&D is more like magic then science. It is full of wonder, and mystery, and unknowns, and danger. Just the way magic should be....

McBars
2014-11-11, 05:50 PM
I agree. This is why magic in my version of D&D is more like magic then science. It is full of wonder, and mystery, and unknowns, and danger. Just the way magic should be....



Thank you for saying that so I didn't have to. The only mysterious thing about magic in Jedipotter's game is why anyone would be insane enough to use it.

It sounds like "wonder and mystery" translate to having an incredibly frustrating time playing a spellcaster

Knaight
2014-11-11, 06:27 PM
It sounds like "wonder and mystery" translate to having an incredibly frustrating time putting a spellcaster

Suffice to say that Jedipotter's games are nonrepresentative enough that taking conclusions from them to anywhere else is questionable, and there's some prior history here.

Jay R
2014-11-11, 07:30 PM
The rarer you make magic, the stronger the magician becomes.

You are assuming that making magic rarer doesn't affect the magician.

In the last 2E game I played, magic was rare, and a wizard only got two spells per level. Any others had to be researched. The magician didn't become more powerful.

I certainly agree that reducing the magic for everyone except one character would make that character more powerful, but why would anybody approach it that way?

Grinner
2014-11-11, 07:35 PM
...To address something other than jedipotter's game, for whatever cause you all have to rag on it, let's take a look at NichG's suggestion...


The basic idea is that the world in this system/setting is a place in which things which have had, will have, or could have had major effects on the course of history become imbued with power.

In this system, 'magic' such as it is is a finite resource - a 'spell' is not knowledge you can use to make the universe do your bidding, its a link between you and a particular historical event or ancient thing which you can draw upon for power...

I like this. It sets up a coherent premise with interesting mechanical implications, and it's fairly easy to expand as needed. Because it's powered by setting elements, it also binds the game together much more tightly.


On the other hand, extremely ancient things - the stars above, the moon in the sky, the ground beneath one's feet - are extremely powerful sources of magic. At the same time though, all living things who behold them are considered to have a link to them, and so that powerful magic is incredibly diluted at the same time.

I have to question what the purpose of minor magic is (given how cantrips and orisons tend to work out), but as presented, it works with the setting quite nicely. Let's read on.


That's 'what has been', but I also mentioned 'what will be' and 'what could have been'. 'What could have been' is the power associated with thwarted fate, opportunity lost, etc. It tends to be a power belonging strictly to supernatural creatures - particularly ghosts etc - and due to its nature it is almost always tied to regret or ambition in some form or other...

This...adds quite a bit to the game, don't you think? It opens up a whole new dimension to the magical practices of the setting and bears implications upon the cosmology. Plus, it adds room for your shamans and spirit summoners. Really, my only concern here is ensuring that there's fairly little overlap between this and the history magic.


The last one is 'what will be/could be' - here we have the core mechanic of PCs. When a thousand soldiers go onto a battlefield and only ten walk away alive, there is something special that clings to those ten even if there was nothing particular about them going in. Chance, fate, whatever has made a choice, and there is a residue of that which remains upon them and can be tapped.

...

This particular form of power also provides the supply of versatility that each character should be able to tap. This would take the form of a per-game resource. Essentially, as part of this destiny mechanic, each PC should be able to 'luck into' a certain number of things each game. This replaces part of the versatility that would normally be provided by spell preparation, but in-universe is a non-magical effect...

A third and final branch of magic. Still no complaints. What's cool here is how it expands upon the cosmology further while remaining true to the initial premise. On top of that, it presents the players with a mechanism to direct the course of the game and meshes neatly with pretty much any character concept.

Talakeal
2014-11-11, 08:13 PM
Magic Control Suggestions:

Just because you level-up, doesn't mean you instantly learn new spells.
Leveling up only means you are capable of learning new spells.
Spells are learned either by buying them to study and master over time, learning from a tutor, and/or as a quest reward.
Casters are few and far between in terms of a caster / population ratio.
Remove material components and xp costs, the rarity and aforementioned limitations will make getting the spells that have those requirements all the harder to obtain anyways.
Make players invent their own magic words for each spell. If they're going to role-play a caster, then make them actually role-play a caster.
Magic items cannot be bought from a store. Quest-rewards only.
Enchanted weapons and armor are super rare and generally quest-linked.
Wizards, Sorcerers, Clerics, and Druids are NPC classes only.
Rangers don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Monks don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Bards don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Paladins are rare as can be. 5% chance of existing.

.

Overall I like this. Some players are really self conscious (or uncreative) and the making up their own magic words thing would probably be asking too much of them, but I wouldn't mind it.
The full casters as NPCs only might be a bit of an issue for players who really love those classes; maybe allow them on a case by case basis but apply some additional RP or mechanical hoops to jump through?
Having a PC roll a single dice roll to see if they have an ability is absolutely terrible design. Force PC classes to take an ACF instead of casting, but do not make them roll for it like this.

Honestly I find the onus of making magic special is primarily on the DM, not the players. Put fewer magical treasures or npcs in the game world. Have the commoners act fearful and superstitious about magic. Actually make PC spell casters feel special, powerful, and most of all mysterious. It is not so important whether or not the wizard knows fireball, but whether or not the other characters know if the wizard can cast fireball. If you have heard legends of sorcerers who could blast an entire mob of men to ash with a word, would you even chance getting on his bad side? Or, conversely, would you risk letting him into your town in the first place to visit all sorts of curses upon your family and your livelihood?

1337 b4k4
2014-11-11, 08:56 PM
Magic Control Suggestions:

Just because you level-up, doesn't mean you instantly learn new spells.
Leveling up only means you are capable of learning new spells.
Spells are learned either by buying them to study and master over time, learning from a tutor, and/or as a quest reward.
Casters are few and far between in terms of a caster / population ratio.
...
...
Magic items cannot be bought from a store. Quest-rewards only.
...
Rangers don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Monks don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
...
Paladins are rare as can be. 5% chance of existing.



I find it somewhat amusing how many people think that you suggestions wouldn't work, or would ruin the game or some other such complaint when the quoted suggestions are pretty much D&D as written prior to 2e. D&D can and did function with low magic rules, it just requires a different type and style of game. It's also worth noting that low magic D&D is still higher magic than some forms of fantasy (like say Cthulhu)

Pex
2014-11-11, 11:50 PM
I find it somewhat amusing how many people think that you suggestions wouldn't work, or would ruin the game or some other such complaint when the quoted suggestions are pretty much D&D as written prior to 2e. D&D can and did function with low magic rules, it just requires a different type and style of game. It's also worth noting that low magic D&D is still higher magic than some forms of fantasy (like say Cthulhu)

But the problem was, even if only 5% of the whole world's population are paladin, why can't the player's character be from that 5%? That was a problem I had with 2E. It denied a player playing what he wants because he got unlucky in dice rolling. It suggested a player who wanted to play a ranger but didn't roll high enough to instead play a fighter who always wanted to be a ranger but is allergic to trees. That's ridiculous.

I found the general tone of 2E was deny, forbid, and just say no. Any player choice was restricted. Kits were a start for choice, but there was DM outrage. The Player's Options series finally gave players real choice. Even rolled ability scores could be adjusted by splitting their effects into two numbers. 2E was dying, though, so the books didn't have a long life before the game stagnated. 3E opened the flood gates. Player choice was everywhere. I liked that very much. 4E reined in the power, but players still had meaningful choices. 5E also gives players choices. There's only one book for players out so choices have limits, but within those limits are significant choices.

As I see it it's not really about magic. Magic is just the symptom. The crunch of the rules might have too powerful of effects for some people. That's a matter of taste. However, to deny magic at all or restrict it enough you ban it all but just without using the word "banned" or punish a player's character with side effects for the audacity of using magic, all within the context of a D&D game specifically as opposed to a different game system that has its own paradigm, that just reads to me as a DM who doesn't like his players having choices or abilities to do wondrous things. Anything more than "I attack. I hit. I do 8 damage" (exaggeration) is anathema to them.

NichG
2014-11-12, 12:45 AM
I have to question what the purpose of minor magic is (given how cantrips and orisons tend to work out), but as presented, it works with the setting quite nicely. Let's read on.

I put this in here to follow along with the suggestion up-thread that even in very low magic settings, there's an ambient sort of level of omnipresent 'superstitions are real'. The idea is that 'star magic' or 'land magic' isn't really the kind of thing used by high-power adventurers, and can't even give much of an edge in combat, but explains why it's safe to assume that a guy dressed up as the village shaman may actually have the ability to work a few minor effects without having ever delved into an ancient ruin to find and craft his own spell. Essentially this grounds the low end of the supernatural in the setting, while leaving the high end open. A random villager will be familiar with the idea of magic, and believe that it exists from personal experiences, but will only have experienced very minor things like the 'charm to keep a saddle tied on' from Soldier's Son. Furthermore, since the low-end is so dilute but broad, you can have the situation in which 'true' superstitions live side-by-side with 'fake' superstitions, Discworld-style 'headology', etc, and untangling those differences makes for good low-level plotlines.



This...adds quite a bit to the game, don't you think? It opens up a whole new dimension to the magical practices of the setting and bears implications upon the cosmology. Plus, it adds room for your shamans and spirit summoners. Really, my only concern here is ensuring that there's fairly little overlap between this and the history magic.


I was thinking of this mostly as the release valve for things like clearly supernatural monsters existing, but being hard to explain in the context of the cosmology without it. Basically, without something like this why are there ghosts and treants and dragons that can fly despite their body weight and demons and so on? As far as overlap with the history magic, I'd say that the distinction should be that history magic is 'a directed effect is caused by the magic' whereas this kind of thing is more like 'existences which are supernatural by nature', such as a rock statue that moves on its own volition (golem) or a spirit that can pass through walls or possess people (ghost) or whatnot. These may involve a few overtly directed effects, but the emphasis is ideally different. I also made this separate to concretely resolve things like 'what should happen if a golem enters an antimagic field?'.



A third and final branch of magic. Still no complaints. What's cool here is how it expands upon the cosmology further while remaining true to the initial premise. On top of that, it presents the players with a mechanism to direct the course of the game and meshes neatly with pretty much any character concept.

The trickiest thing here, IMO, is to control how the world sees this third branch of power. If this is seen as an explicit magic that is performed, then that fails at the overall goal of making the setting have a low-magic vibe. Instead it has to be sufficiently subtle and idiosyncratic that it's hard to pin down. Even if its something recognized, it should come across more like 'he's a lucky person' than 'he's a powerful luck-mage' - e.g. it should never seem like the abilities of this branch are identifiable separate from the person who benefits from them. 'He's impossibly tough' rather than 'he's using a destiny warp to toughen himself'.

jedipotter
2014-11-12, 12:59 AM
It sounds like "wonder and mystery" translate to having an incredibly frustrating time playing a spellcaster

It depends how you look at it. If you want magic to always do exactly what the rules say it does every time like a very boring and dull repeat of a song like ''row row row your boat'' played endless over and over again. Then yes that type of person would find magic in my game frustrating.

The the type of player that likes mystery, strangeness and the unknown where every spell cast can lead to a wonderful cornucopia of effects and it is always new and fresh and interesting. Then no that type of player is not frustrated.

DeadMech
2014-11-12, 01:31 AM
Ask me if I'd rather play tippyverse or jediverse and I can tell you tippyverse.

I don't think I would even do well in Tippyverse. When the entire world knows optimization and the logical consequences to certain abilities better than I do I'd probably get pasted several times over. But at least in tippyverse I can learn the reason's why and hope to eventually improve to the point where I can hold my own.

Whereas in jediverse, the character I made who's supposedly good at the things I built it for doesn't even know how his or her own abilities function. And that's regardless of how the character is built. God's forbid I dare to cast that spell I started the game with, that my character has had access to and spent a decade learning. It would be quicker to slit my own throat. Or at least less painful.

It's not like magic always does what you think it will anyway. Enemies have saves, damage dice are random, the targets have their own abilities and move out of the area of effect.

I don't want to claim that magic is balanced in DnD. It's not really. But the game is built around it. Without magic gear your character's lost a fair amount of the growth of his power, throwing an already imperfect cr system right out the window.

Though there may be ways around it. Short of page by page re-examining every enemy in the books and balancing them accordingly. I've wanted to try one of the house rules that turns all the various +1's a character acquired through gear into bonuses they automatically earn by virtue of leveling up.

Marlowe
2014-11-12, 02:03 AM
I find it somewhat amusing how many people think that you suggestions wouldn't work, or would ruin the game or some other such complaint when the quoted suggestions are pretty much D&D as written prior to 2e. D&D can and did function with low magic rules, it just requires a different type and style of game. It's also worth noting that low magic D&D is still higher magic than some forms of fantasy (like say Cthulhu)

I can't speak for gaming in the 70s and 80s. But I can speak a little for the late 90s. And what I remember most strongly from those days is that very few I knew who called themselves a Roleplayer wanted to play D&D. At all. The exceptions tended to be malodourous, balding individuals who refused to be involved unless they were allowed to play their high-level, heavily-houseruled character that they rolled up five years ago for a different campaign with people we'd never met.

I cannot remember a single "campaign" in those days that did not dissolve into bored PvP after a few hours due to player frustration with the system. It really says something when 3.0 came along with all its poorly-thought out engineering challenges things actually got better.

These sort of arbitrary, simplistic sort of restrictions weren't the only reason for this, but they certainly were part of it.

So no. Let's not bring back the bad old days. They weren't that great.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-12, 09:56 AM
But the problem was, even if only 5% of the whole world's population are paladin, why can't the player's character be from that 5%? That was a problem I had with 2E. It denied a player playing what he wants because he got unlucky in dice rolling. It suggested a player who wanted to play a ranger but didn't roll high enough to instead play a fighter who always wanted to be a ranger but is allergic to trees. That's ridiculous.

Because at the time, random character generation was still a thing. Also, the rules did not deny the player and the group to arbitrarily decide that the player could play, but by being heavily restricted in the first place, it made everyone think twice about it, helping to prevent the "party of lone wolf drow (http://www.goblinscomic.org/07112005/)" ridiculousness (link may be NSFWish, nothing bad but male-player-female-character stereotypes so be warned).

Beyond that, by definition when you decide you want to play a game with "low magic" or where X Y or Z items are extremely rare, then you are by definition agreeing to play a game where there will be some things that you might want to play that you can't play. I might want to play a jet back enabled half robot half shark with lasers attached to my head and wifi access, but chances are if we're playing D&D, that's just not going to happen. Likewise, if I'm playing Call of Cthulhu, I'm not going to be playing a 500 year old immortal wizard who's been slinging spells since before any of my teammates were born.


I can't speak for gaming in the 70s and 80s. But I can speak a little for the late 90s. And what I remember most strongly from those days is that very few I knew who called themselves a Roleplayer wanted to play D&D. At all. The exceptions tended to be malodourous, balding individuals who refused to be involved unless they were allowed to play their high-level, heavily-houseruled character that they rolled up five years ago for a different campaign with people we'd never met.

Ever hobby goes through it's hipster periods. That the dominant game for 20 years began to wane is completely unsurprising. The 90s also saw the death of a lot of TTRPGs and their associated companies.



So no. Let's not bring back the bad old days. They weren't that great.

They also weren't that bad either.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-11-12, 02:57 PM
I find it somewhat amusing how many people think that you suggestions wouldn't work, or would ruin the game or some other such complaint when the quoted suggestions are pretty much D&D as written prior to 2e. D&D can and did function with low magic rules, it just requires a different type and style of game. It's also worth noting that low magic D&D is still higher magic than some forms of fantasy (like say Cthulhu)

That system was built with those things being the default and, as such, having them worked, as well as anything, in that system. That said, that system is -not- D&D 3.X. It is only recognizable in comparison because of product identity pieces such as beholders and illithids. Porting them into a different system without accounting for them in the myriad; sometimes major, sometimes minute; ways that such would affect the system is a -terrible- idea.

Also of note; much of what you quoted doesn't do much.

Of the lot, only the first, preventing auto-learning of spells on level up, actually reduces the power of casters.

The three that immediately followed are already true for the wizard and the third of those is, and always has been, true.

The fifth point, magic item unnavailability, actually -is- a problem for 3e D&D for anyone who's not a caster. The math behind the game's mechanics doesn't work if non-casters can't get magic items after about level 5-6 or so.

The ranger can live without his spells but it's still an unnecessary nerf unless you give him -something- to replace it. It's a fairly minor change mechanically but it also doesn't do much to affect the flavor of magic since it's a side feature of the class anyway.

The monk thing is nonsense. They don't cast spells in the first place.

And the paladin thing is actually a rather dramatic increase to their number. Unless the OP actually was making the utterly absurd suggestion of making players roll a d20 and they're only allowed to play a paladin on a 20. I don't have to explain why telling someone that they can't play the class they want because of an arbitrary roll of the dice is a bad thing, do I?

Sartharina
2014-11-12, 03:08 PM
I'm sorry... is this the 3.X board? I thought we were talking about D&D in general.

And... D&D 3.X does a decent job of playing in ways that you're saying can't be done, with several pages in the DMG talking about how to do exactly that. Heck... you don't even need magic items to play D&D, given that they're restricted to the DMG. You have gotten the 3.X metagame confused with the game itself.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-11-12, 04:00 PM
I'm sorry... is this the 3.X board? I thought we were talking about D&D in general.

And... D&D 3.X does a decent job of playing in ways that you're saying can't be done, with several pages in the DMG talking about how to do exactly that. Heck... you don't even need magic items to play D&D, given that they're restricted to the DMG. You have gotten the 3.X metagame confused with the game itself.

It's not, but the OP's complaints are directed almost exclusively at that version of the game.

As for the rest of your comment, I never said it -can't- be done, just that it can't be done with no more changes than the OP suggested, at least not successfully. I even made suggestions for -how- to do it in my first response to this thread. A skilled DM can mitigate drastic changes to the metagame and still have a successful game but any DM should do so carefully and after thinking things through carefully. You can't properly adjust for changes to the metagame if you don't understand the metagame except by trial and error and the errors are going to grate on -everyone's- nerves, DM included.

As for that last bit, the treasure and xp tables, NPC statistics, terrain rules, and a couple other rather important things are all in the DMG. That doesn't mean they should all be thrown out as superfluous.

Totema
2014-11-12, 07:23 PM
Sounds like you should take d20 Modern and de-evolve it to dark age-level technology. Maybe take a cue from 3.X when magic does become relevant in any way, but otherwise not worry about it.

Mark Hall
2014-11-12, 07:33 PM
If you want to control the ubiquity of magic this way, my best suggestion is to find another roleplaying system. D&D isn't really made for magic-lite or for magic-is-rare-and-wonderful playstyle.

Depends on what you mean by D&D, I think. AD&D works pretty well at those levels; get rid of all classes but fighters and thieves, maybe including 1e's assassins and rangers (though you have to cut off a ranger's upper level abilities).

It does change the game a bit. Healing is slow, so adventures have longer intervals between them. I think it leads to a more defensive and conservative style, but it's more or less what the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories are... and they read just like D&D.

Pex
2014-11-12, 07:54 PM
Because at the time, random character generation was still a thing. Also, the rules did not deny the player and the group to arbitrarily decide that the player could play, but by being heavily restricted in the first place, it made everyone think twice about it, helping to prevent the "party of lone wolf drow (http://www.goblinscomic.org/07112005/)" ridiculousness (link may be NSFWish, nothing bad but male-player-female-character stereotypes so be warned).


It was more than that. The ability score minimums, though a bother for me, wasn't the true problem. The 2E DMG had advice on adjusting ability scores. "Two-for-ones" were popular back then, reduce one score by 2 to raise another by 1. Some DMs did "one-for-one". However, the DMG practically forbade allowing the trade so a character could become a paladin or an illusionist. They were special and rare, not just for anyone. The game itself was forbidding a player from playing a character he wanted. That's where "allergic to trees" comes in to inspire roleplaying, by refusing to let a character who already qualified for fighter to adjust scores to become a ranger. The randomness of ability score generation is a non-issue. It's the tone of the rules - deny, forbid, and just say no.

Marlowe
2014-11-12, 10:42 PM
It was more than that. The ability score minimums, though a bother for me, wasn't the true problem. The 2E DMG had advice on adjusting ability scores. "Two-for-ones" were popular back then, reduce one score by 2 to raise another by 1. Some DMs did "one-for-one". However, the DMG practically forbade allowing the trade so a character could become a paladin or an illusionist. They were special and rare, not just for anyone. The game itself was forbidding a player from playing a character he wanted. That's where "allergic to trees" comes in to inspire roleplaying, by refusing to let a character who already qualified for fighter to adjust scores to become a ranger. The randomness of ability score generation is a non-issue. It's the tone of the rules - deny, forbid, and just say no.

We had a lot of problems back then with people coming into a session with a certain idea of what they wanted to play, found their initial stats just would not let them, and then spend the session doing their best to get themselves killed so they could play something else.

And no, it usually wasn't "Let me get this boring blob of a fighter killed off so I can roll up something I might want to play". It was usually "Let's get me out of this bloated, simplistic, dinosaur that claims to be a classic RPG so I can go play WoD or Deadlands or something where I might have a say in what my character can do".

I don't really have words to express how much I loathed 2nd edition. And I certainly wasn't the only one.

hifidelity2
2014-11-13, 10:57 AM
There are a few ways you can handle this.

Personally I would use another system – indeed I am running a GURPS game in a Low Manner world. So Magic is there but all spell rolls (for those who don’t know GURPS spells are just sills) are at -5. Also most magic items don’t work as they need to be of a high power to work in a Low Manner world


However if you want to use D&D then option are

- Restrict Spells ( a white list) as already stated
- No automatic learning of spells
- Raise spells up levels or the spells / level you get are reduced. e.g. Cantrips say up to 3rd level, 1st level spells only to 5th level etc
- Increase the casting time – spells are mainly rituals – if it says rounds to cast it takes turns or hours. (so the Wiz can cast fireball – just hold the monsters off for 1 hrs please......)

Anonymouswizard
2014-11-13, 11:08 AM
There are a few ways you can handle this.

Personally I would use another system – indeed I am running a GURPS game in a Low Manner world. So Magic is there but all spell rolls (for those who don’t know GURPS spells are just sills) are at -5. Also most magic items don’t work as they need to be of a high power to work in a Low Manner world

What does people being rude have to do with magic? Or being poor? I tjink you mean low mana, as low manner generally means either rude ("said in a low manner"), or refers to bad circumstances ("low standard of living"), and I think most D&D characters have the second covered :smalltongue:


However if you want to use D&D then option are

- Restrict Spells ( a white list) as already stated
- No automatic learning of spells
- Raise spells up levels or the spells / level you get are reduced. e.g. Cantrips say up to 3rd level, 1st level spells only to 5th level etc
- Increase the casting time – spells are mainly rituals – if it says rounds to cast it takes turns or hours. (so the Wiz can cast fireball – just hold the monsters off for 1 hrs please......)

I like most of the restrictions except for number four, which just sounds arbitrary. "Wizards are useless until 4th level, by which point most creatures are powerful enough to be barely affected by the good spells".

How about instead we remove vancian magic from the game, and give the ranger, paladin, and maybe bard ACFs to compensate. Then, in my latest attempt to introduce a thematic magic system, remove the cleric, druid, sorcerer, wizard, and maybe bard, and replace them with three classes.
-the Ritualist keeps a book of rituals, which take anything from a few minutes to a couple of hours to cast, but make up for the time required with their versatility.
-the Thaumaturge learns a small number of magical tricks he can use at-will, like the Warlock. He pays for his ease of use through a lack of versatility. Fluff as innate or granted magic to taste.
-the Theurgist gets their magic by dealing with spirits, whether negotiations or tricks. They'd probably have spells known like a Sorcerer, but cast through skill rolls.

gnalish
2014-11-13, 12:13 PM
... You can see it in the fact that monsters scale far faster than most mundane characters can deal with sans magic items. ...

Therein lies the major issue. If, as the DM, you're willing to generate your own monster manual per party level, you're okay. If not, your party will TPK against a proper CR challenge because CR takes assumed party wealth into account. Making magic rarer makes the fights a lot harder.

That said, putting additional crutches on magic will do what you are looking for. Force the wizard to carry his spell components and keep track of quantity like rangers keep track of their arrows. Oh, and make it near impossible to find extra dimensional space items (bag of holding, hewards haversack, quiver of ehlonna etc). Start monitoring carry capacity. Wizard has 10 STR? 3/4 of your carry is your components and gear. Just found a sweet staff? Better hope someone else is willing to carry it. Then make the command word something like 'shoot' and wait for the fighter to realize that the staff he's carrying is why he just got hit in the back with an acid arrow.

NichG
2014-11-13, 12:30 PM
Therein lies the major issue. If, as the DM, you're willing to generate your own monster manual per party level, you're okay. If not, your party will TPK against a proper CR challenge because CR takes assumed party wealth into account. Making magic rarer makes the fights a lot harder.

This isn't really as much of an issue as people make it out to be, namely because you have to do that anyways due to the massive differences in party capabilities that come about due to details of player optimization know-how already. Given two different groups of players - one group who is doing things like 'fireball wizard' and 'sword-and-board', and the other group who is doing things like Wall of Salt economics and Uberchargers, the same encounter is likely to TPK the first and not even be a speed-bump for the second. You always have to be aware of the capabilities of the party when coming up with encounters, whether you're running D&D by the book or doing something with a complex set of house rules.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-13, 12:39 PM
It was more than that. The ability score minimums, though a bother for me, wasn't the true problem. The 2E DMG had advice on adjusting ability scores. "Two-for-ones" were popular back then, reduce one score by 2 to raise another by 1. Some DMs did "one-for-one". However, the DMG practically forbade allowing the trade so a character could become a paladin or an illusionist. They were special and rare, not just for anyone. The game itself was forbidding a player from playing a character he wanted. That's where "allergic to trees" comes in to inspire roleplaying, by refusing to let a character who already qualified for fighter to adjust scores to become a ranger. The randomness of ability score generation is a non-issue. It's the tone of the rules - deny, forbid, and just say no.

I guess I just find this sort of mentality hard to wrap my head around. If a player wants to play X, and the rest of the group is fine with them playing X, and them not playing X is causing them to have a bad time, why isn't the group letting them play X? Sure the rules don't allow it but who cares? It's your game, not the game designer's. Do what you want, and just be aware of the consequences thereof. I mean I get that some DMs took their authority a bit to far (youths with under-developed social skills tend to not be so great at being social), but that's less a problem with the game and more a problem with the DM. Like I said, it's like me joining a Call of Cthulhu game and wanting to be Harry Potter. Sure if the GM allows it then it's all well and good, but if they don't because it's against the rules of the game, that doesn't mean the game is broken or bad.

jedipotter
2014-11-13, 01:50 PM
I guess I just find this sort of mentality hard to wrap my head around. If a player wants to play X, and the rest of the group is fine with them playing X, and them not playing X is causing them to have a bad time, why isn't the group letting them play X? Sure the rules don't allow it but who cares?

For lots of reasons, a lot of players feel the must follow the rules. What is written in the book is final.

Psyren
2014-11-13, 02:39 PM
Ask me if I'd rather play tippyverse or jediverse and I can tell you tippyverse.

Can I just say that I love that these are both things that exist? :smallbiggrin: (Even though I'd never play in either of them.)


If you don't like magic, that's your prerogative. However, D&D is not wrong or The Suck for being filled with magic. It's not a problem. It's not a fault. It's not a blame. It's not a bug. It's just not suitable to your preference of game style. You could very well play a game with only fighters, barbarians, and rogues if that's what you want. You can ban everything and the kitchen sink. That doesn't make you right and D&D wrong with how it approaches being a roleplaying game. It's just not your taste. Instead of trying to turn D&D into your preferred method and getting all frustrated and angry at the game, yes, play a different game system.

Pretty much this.

BeerMug Paladin
2014-11-13, 03:00 PM
What is the jediverse? As far as I can figure from what people have said so far, it's like the polar opposite of the tippyverse. But I'm not sure what people are exactly referring to. Is it a game run by jedipotter?

The best thing I found while trying to find that out was this (http://forum.blueharvest.net/lofiversion/index.php/t9398.html). Funny, but not the explanation I was looking for.

jedipotter
2014-11-13, 03:41 PM
What is the jediverse? As far as I can figure from what people have said so far, it's like the polar opposite of the tippyverse. But I'm not sure what people are exactly referring to. Is it a game run by jedipotter?

Polar opposite to the tippyverse.....not quite. After all would not that be like a low magic world where someone with a candle is all powerful?

1. A Dark, Hard, Gritty, Tough, Violent, Lethal world full of Death. Very much. A character in one of my adventures looks a lot more like Bruce Willis at the end of Die Hard(beat up, bleeding, barley able to stand, with only one weapon left) and not like Neo from the Matrix(A super awesome god being).

2. Secret House rules. The players don't know all the setting rules. It's not by the book. Players can only learn the effects of rules, not the rule themselves.

3. High Magic. But a lot more practical magic, were people make ''cool boxes to keep food cold'' and not tippy-silly-stuff.

4. High powered world. The character's are just one tiny group in a vast crowd. There are tons and tons of people more powerful then they are...and some equal and some lesser power, of course.

5. Unfairness....but fun.

Mostly other people don't like the Secret House rules. One that gets a ton of complaints is: Your deity looks over your shoulder and watches every spell a divine spellcaster casts, and judges if it fits their ethos or not, and the deity can act to change the magic, add or take away and effect or other such things.

Psyren
2014-11-13, 04:26 PM
Why wouldn't they? They expect D&D and instead are left with Russian roulette. Especially the example you've used; about the least fun thing for players is the mysterious loss of autonomy/abilities.

Though I guess it's their fault for voluntarily playing in such a campaign.

I respectfully advise you do not fight this battle as it won't go anywhere productive.

Grinner
2014-11-13, 04:30 PM
Why wouldn't they? They expect D&D and instead are left with Russian roulette. Especially the example you've used; about the least fun thing for players is the mysterious loss of autonomy/abilities.

Though I guess it's their fault for voluntarily playing in such a campaign.

It makes sense. That's actually one thing that kinda irritates me about D&D in general. Characters whose concept revolves around being exemplars of a certain ethos can blithely ignore it without penalty, with the exception of the Paladin.

Granted, this sort of thing really ought not to be secret. Surely other clerics before them have transgressed their vows.

Knaight
2014-11-13, 04:33 PM
I respectfully advise you do not fight this battle as it won't go anywhere productive.

It can and will go to a 40+ page thread. Or two.

Psyren
2014-11-13, 04:46 PM
It makes sense. That's actually one thing that kinda irritates me about D&D in general. Characters whose concept revolves around being exemplars of a certain ethos can blithely ignore it without penalty, with the exception of the Paladin.

Granted, this sort of thing really ought not to be secret. Surely other clerics before them have transgressed their vows.

Err, Clerics and Druids can fall for impiety too. And arcanists' power doesn't come from their ethos so I don't see why it matters.

Grinner
2014-11-13, 05:46 PM
Err, Clerics and Druids can fall for impiety too.

How often does that really happen though? I tend to see more threads about paladins falling than I do clerics needing atonement.

Really, it comes down how serious of a game you want, but that doesn't stop it from bugging me. :smalltongue:

Anonymouswizard
2014-11-13, 06:59 PM
Polar opposite to the tippyverse.....not quite. After all would not that be like a low magic world where someone with a candle is all powerful?

Okay, I'm going to go through and review the 'jediverse' from the point of view of someone who has GMed Dark Heresy, D&D 3.5 and Shadowrun, and also played All Flesh Must be Eaten, Mutants and Masterminds, Pathfinder, Basic D&D (the original red box), AD&D 2e, and Unknown Armies.. In addition, within the year I plan to run a short game of Call of Cthulhu, and shortish campaigns of Vampire: the Requiem and a space opera GURPS game. But this is all just an opinion.


1. A Dark, Hard, Gritty, Tough, Violent, Lethal world full of Death. Very much. A character in one of my adventures looks a lot more like Bruce Willis at the end of Die Hard(beat up, bleeding, barley able to stand, with only one weapon left) and not like Neo from the Matrix(A super awesome god being).

This depends entirely on how complex the character creation is. This is how I plan to run my Call of Cthulhu game, because it has simple and fast character creation, but something like Shadowrun, Vampire (less so here), Unisystem, or D&D 3.5 where you have so much more to deal with, and having to spend an hour outside of the game to create a new character can lead to getting fed up with the game (I expect my players to wise up to the social aspect not being useless when the first combat monster gets left out to meet the sun). I can see why a GM might want to run his style, but it just isn't feasible in a lot of games. I like squishy characters though, because they make the players have to actually think before getting into a fight, and I'll happily kill them off even if that means the payer has to spend the rest of a session rolling up a new character. All in all, this is the part of the style I like the most (although more people in my games end up lightly damaged, but because they get lucky or decide to cut it and run. I've discovered that squishy characters tend to result in them surviving longer, because they rush in less.


2. Secret House rules. The players don't know all the setting rules. It's not by the book. Players can only learn the effects of rules, not the rule themselves.

I don't agree with these in principle, but considering I've been in a lot of games where players don't learn the rules I don't think it's disruptive in practice. I believe that all players should have access to the rules if they ask, but they don't have to be given freely. For example, in my game of Vampire there are no more true mages (as in Mage the Ascension or Mage the Awakening), but both humans and vampires can use 'mortal hedge magic', which is a series of merits that represent minor spells,. The players will first encounter it when a priest uses his true faith to give them a holy symbol bane, and then any player who expresses interest in learning magic will be provided with the rules for it. But I don't believe in creating house rules for something and then not letting the players use them.


3. High Magic. But a lot more practical magic, were people make ''cool boxes to keep food cold'' and not tippy-silly-stuff.

I'm not sure how I feel about his. On the one hand, I don't like magic that just straight up replaces technology, and like more Occult-style magic, but I also like magic to be used in a way that makes sense. So this 'practical magic' should lead to large projects to effectively create modern society or an equivalent, but POWERED BY MAGIC! To work around this you need a drawback, such as magic taking hours to cast, to avoid this problem. I'd say more here, but I'm sleepy, just that it sounds like the 'jediverse' should become a tippyverse.


4. High powered world. The character's are just one tiny group in a vast crowd. There are tons and tons of people more powerful then they are...and some equal and some lesser power, of course.

I have nothing wrong with this, as long as PCs have a chance to be movers and shakers. Not that it should be easy, but that if a character works at it then they should be able to become the most powerful swordsman in the world.

They are then blown up by a high level mage, who is then assassinated by a mid-level rogue who managed to bypass their abjurations through guile.


5. Unfairness....but fun.[/QUOE]

I like my games to be fair, but whoever said that fair had to mean easy. Probably the fairest session I've ever run is when the elf got taken down in two hits due to the players not understanding how much PC/NPC transparency the system had. In the final session next week they'll be fighting people using the squirt guns they laughed off in character creation, which they've had the opportunity to get protection from them during downtime. But this is the first time they're fighting professionals with a reason to go all out, and so they'll have to change their tactics to succeed.

[QUOTE]Mostly other people don't like the Secret House rules. One that gets a ton of complaints is: Your deity looks over your shoulder and watches every spell a divine spellcaster casts, and judges if it fits their ethos or not, and the deity can act to change the magic, add or take away and effect or other such things.

As long as it's established up front and not 'LOL, god McSun has decided you can't cast firebolt right now, and have given you light instead' the example should be fine. Pass me a Fighter please, at least I know what to expect when I use my abilities.

If it's more along the lines of a check to see if your deity gives you the requested aid or not, I'll play a Cleric every time.

Chauncymancer
2014-11-13, 07:31 PM
If a player wants to play X, and the rest of the group is fine with them playing X, and them not playing X is causing them to have a bad time, why isn't the group letting them play X? Sure the rules don't allow it but who cares? It's your game, not the game designer's.
-EMPHASIS ADDED
As I understand it, in the Great Beforetime (TM) that those rules were written for, the default assumed play style was in "Living Worlds" where gaming clubs ran multiple tables of the same game that in principle took place in different parts of the same universe. This is why early dnd included answers to such odd questions as "A player walks up to your table with a character another DM approved, that is unsuitable for your table. What do you do?"
The idea, apparently, was that the club's rules for character creation might take precedence over the DM's rulings, and that a DM may need to contort the plot a bit to explain characters that didn't really fit but couldn't be booted because they were "by the book." The rules in the book were meant to be so restrictive, I conjecture, so that DMs wouldn't have to deal with characters that were too wild.

Telwar
2014-11-13, 10:43 PM
Sure the rules don't allow it but who cares? It's your game, not the game designer's.

*Someone* never heard of the roaming FASA rules enforcement squads, back in the '90s. ;)

Mark Hall
2014-11-13, 11:53 PM
*Someone* never heard of the roaming FASA rules enforcement squads, back in the '90s. ;)

WE DON'T TALK ABOUT THAT. Some scars run too deep, man.

Talakeal
2014-11-14, 01:01 AM
*Someone* never heard of the roaming FASA rules enforcement squads, back in the '90s. ;)

One of the editions of Warhammer had some text about how you cannot play the game without using official Games Workshop miniatures, and even went so far as to say this applied even when playing a friendly game in your own home.

My friends and I cracked up when we first read that last bit and ever since have been making jokes about Games Workshop special forces agents watching us whenever we play just getting ready to storm our houses if they see a model they don't like.

Marlowe
2014-11-14, 05:08 AM
The really funny thing there is that would make far more sense to use GW minis to play a non-GW game than the other way around.

Arbane
2014-11-14, 05:14 AM
That said, putting additional crutches on magic will do what you are looking for. Force the wizard to carry his spell components and keep track of quantity like rangers keep track of their arrows. Oh, and make it near impossible to find extra dimensional space items (bag of holding, hewards haversack, quiver of ehlonna etc). Start monitoring carry capacity. Wizard has 10 STR? 3/4 of your carry is your components and gear. Just found a sweet staff? Better hope someone else is willing to carry it. Then make the command word something like 'shoot' and wait for the fighter to realize that the staff he's carrying is why he just got hit in the back with an acid arrow.

I think I'll just quote Grod on this one:



I swear, the number of times I've seen arguments like this... you know what, I'm proposing a new fallacy, right here and now. Call it Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use. When you do:

The disruptive munchkin ignores it, argues it, or forces the rest of the group to suffer through it. His power remains the same, and he gets more annoying to play with.
The inappropriate powergamer figures out how to circumvent the restriction. His power remains the same.
The reasonable player either figures out how to circumvent the restriction (rendering it mood), avoids the class (turning it into a ban) or suffers through it. His power remains the same and/or his enjoyment goes down.
The new player avoids the class or suffers through it. His enjoyment goes down.

Notice how the problem players feel the least impact?

Frozen_Feet
2014-11-14, 10:16 AM
How often does that really happen though? I tend to see more threads about paladins falling than I do clerics needing atonement.

The reason you don't see it as often is because Clerics don't have a set, widely-known Code of Conduct to argue about. Their codes vary wildy by god and alignment, and some settings (Eberron?) don't even enforce that rule.

In D&D editions before D&D, the rules about clerics were much stricter. For example, preparing spells above 4th level was subject to your god's (read: the GM's) judgement. If your god gave you Word of Recall instead of Earthquake, you dealt with it. GMs were told to constantly monitor piety of clerics, and lack of piety could lead to not having spells at all.

Jenrock
2014-11-14, 10:33 AM
It seems to me that Iron Heroes would be right up the OP's alley. There are two spell casting classes (spread across two books), neither of which is essential to the game. While it is mechanically wonky (truthfully, very wonky), house ruling doesn't seem to trouble you, so it seems a good fit.

Also, I nearly posted "Iron Her" instead of "Iron Heroes." Now I want to make a game called Iron Her.

jedipotter
2014-11-14, 06:08 PM
I think I'll just quote Grod on this one:

Well....Grod is wrong. Or maybe Grod's things only apply when your playing with the best of the best friends.

1. the vast majority of problem players do not like to be annoyed. They will avoid annoying rules, even house rules, they don't like. Or just leave the game, so it's win win.

2. I'm not sure how The disruptive munchkin ignores it, argues it, or forces the rest of the group to suffer through it. So if the DM says ''we are using materiel components, keep track of them'' the problem player will just ignore it? And just cast whatever spell they want? See in my game, were a problem player to ignore that...they would just waste their turn doing nothing.

3. I don't understand how any player ''circumvents a restriction''. The DM says ''Teleport only works for one mile per caster level''. So the problem player just says ''Ok, my character teleports 500 miles''. Ok? This is where the DM says, ''nope you don't teleport that far, you only teleport 10 miles and end up in the Black Swamp''. The only way a player can ''circumvent'' a rule is if the DM is powerless. And it just makes no sense that the players can just say and make up stuff, unless your playing some weird type of game.

4. The vast majority of new players don't have all the game baggage. They have not looked over sites and carefully made super awesome builds, they have not read all the handbooks, they don't know all the tricks and exploits and cheats. Your lucky if the new player knows the rules. So when you tell a new player the rule changes they just say ''ok''.

5. Quite often a problem player becomes a good player...once someone puts the hammer down. Take Kyle. He was one of them power blaster wizards. In a typical encounter he would blow everything away...and other characters would not have a chance to do anything. Lots of players did not like that. But Kyle used the lame excuse that ''it is what his character would do'' and he ''had to play that way to have fun''......and all the other players bought his load of psychobabble hook, line and sinker....even tough it made gaming with Kyle miserable for them. Then I DM for the group, and my house rules really cap down on Kyle. And Kyle just shrugs and keeps playing, but now he is not dominating the game. Now he act like just a normal player.

Anonymouswizard
2014-11-14, 08:15 PM
One of the editions of Warhammer had some text about how you cannot play the game without using official Games Workshop miniatures, and even went so far as to say this applied even when playing a friendly game in your own home.

My friends and I cracked up when we first read that last bit and ever since have been making jokes about Games Workshop special forces agents watching us whenever we play just getting ready to storm our houses if they see a model they don't like.

That reminds me of when someone posted on my local "wargaming" group (which is almost entirely Warhammer) about starting Warhammer. I made a comment about how GW is expensive and that if you look online you can probably find models that you're happy with and are easier to afford, as long as you don't play in-store, and was immediately told by everyone that I should never suggest that and that if you want to play the game then you should support the official source (never mind that the armies books doubled in price recently, and based on some quick calculations would require three months of nonstop play testing to justify the current cost), as if there were death squads.


Well....Grod is wrong. Or maybe Grod's things only apply when your playing with the best of the best friends.

1. the vast majority of problem players do not like to be annoyed. They will avoid annoying rules, even house rules, they don't like. Or just leave the game, so it's win win.

Or they put up enough resistance that they become unbearable to play with. I have had the 'joy' of playing with a person who only cared about combat, and essentially wanted a character with a big gun, and was annoyed if you suggested building his character in another way (such as "I had more fun playing an Illusionist than I ever had with an Evoker, why don't you try a more subtle wizard?"), and also got annoyed if you stopped his character from using the gun, especially if you optimised a non-standard character ("why is your character running forward? I can't hit the enemy with my cones!" "I'm a dex-based melee fighter, I have to do this to participate" "why didn't you just play a rogue? Or a ranged character?").

Imagine that player was at your table, and you had just ruled that he had to jump through hoops to use the gun that he has a 'right' to use via choosing it at character creation. You're lucky if this just means them leaving the game, this can evolve into them complaining about every little thing or loudly stating how they could fix the situation if you just gave them access to their gun.


2. I'm not sure how The disruptive munchkin ignores it, argues it, or forces the rest of the group to suffer through it. So if the DM says ''we are using materiel components, keep track of them'' the problem player will just ignore it? And just cast whatever spell they want? See in my game, were a problem player to ignore that...they would just waste their turn doing nothing.

"Oh look, I forgot to note down that I used some bat guano with the fireballs back there. I can't remember how many I threw, so I suppose I'll just drop x doses (proceeds to mime writing on sheet". Unless the GM double checks everything a player does then it is impossible to force them to use every single rule and house rule that you want them to. I don't know about you, but my game sometimes has as many as 8 players in it, and I have a hard enough time listening to what everyone is saying, let alone keeping a separate tally of their material components/whatever to make sure that they aren't breaking a rule.

How exactly do you make sure every rule that comes up is followed to the letter?


3. I don't understand how any player ''circumvents a restriction''. The DM says ''Teleport only works for one mile per caster level''. So the problem player just says ''Ok, my character teleports 500 miles''. Ok? This is where the DM says, ''nope you don't teleport that far, you only teleport 10 miles and end up in the Black Swamp''. The only way a player can ''circumvent'' a rule is if the DM is powerless. And it just makes no sense that the players can just say and make up stuff, unless your playing some weird type of game.

"I create an item with the ability to cast teleport x/day, where x>50, and allow it to be set to be chain cast."

Or

"I create a version of the spell which is only instantaneous to the caster, not the rest of the world, and teleports the caster relatively to the centre of the planet, not the place they are standing. Going by the rotation of the planet that should teleport me XYZ miles."

Are just two circumventions for the teleport off the top of my head.


4. The vast majority of new players don't have all the game baggage. They have not looked over sites and carefully made super awesome builds, they have not read all the handbooks, they don't know all the tricks and exploits and cheats. Your lucky if the new player knows the rules. So when you tell a new player the rule changes they just say ''ok''.

You are assuming that all new players are the same. I prefer to play a system "by the book" before I play one with houserules, and as I have an intuitive understanding of maths based rules, if we are playing "Magicians and Minotaurs", a game that I'm new to, and I decide to roll up a cultist character, having read the descriptions of the classes and the magic and combat chapters, and are then told "oh, by the way, whenever you cast a Cultist spell I roll on a table of my design to decide which spell is actually cast" I would feel insulted and betrayed, despite the fact that when I first bought a copy of Dark Heresy (which I've never played from the players side) I wanted to play a psyker because the use of greater power came with greater risk (the one thing I don't like about the later games is how the risk of psychic powers became far less granular, with it being none/1 in 10/certain).

But there are new players who'll just say okay, because they don't naturally optimise.


5. Quite often a problem player becomes a good player...once someone puts the hammer down. Take Kyle. He was one of them power blaster wizards. In a typical encounter he would blow everything away...and other characters would not have a chance to do anything. Lots of players did not like that. But Kyle used the lame excuse that ''it is what his character would do'' and he ''had to play that way to have fun''......and all the other players bought his load of psychobabble hook, line and sinker....even tough it made gaming with Kyle miserable for them. Then I DM for the group, and my house rules really cap down on Kyle. And Kyle just shrugs and keeps playing, but now he is not dominating the game. Now he act like just a normal player.

This requires you to be good friends with the player. I know that the combat obsessed player I mentioned earlier will be horrified when he learns that my Science Fiction game is not meant to be combat oriented, and I hope that the same thing will occur with him as it did with Kyle. But it's unlikely to happen, in that he has dismissed Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia, and World of Darkness out of hand as they don't fit with his idea of an enjoyable game. some people improve, others lash out.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-14, 10:15 PM
Or they put up enough resistance that they become unbearable to play with.

...

Imagine that player was at your table, and you had just ruled that he had to jump through hoops to use the gun that he has a 'right' to use via choosing it at character creation. You're lucky if this just means them leaving the game, this can evolve into them complaining about every little thing or loudly stating how they could fix the situation if you just gave them access to their gun.


Then they should leave the game.



How exactly do you make sure every rule that comes up is followed to the letter?


The same way toll roads do it. "Oh, you forgot how much bat guano you used, then you used it all and you can't cast any spells requiring it until you restock." Basically, "losing your ticket" means you take the worst possible outcome.




"I create an item with the ability to cast teleport x/day, where x>50, and allow it to be set to be chain cast."

Or

"I create a version of the spell which is only instantaneous to the caster, not the rest of the world, and teleports the caster relatively to the centre of the planet, not the place they are standing. Going by the rotation of the planet that should teleport me XYZ miles."


And how do they go about doing this without the GM's permission?



This requires you to be good friends with the player. I know that the combat obsessed player I mentioned earlier will be horrified when he learns that my Science Fiction game is not meant to be combat oriented, and I hope that the same thing will occur with him as it did with Kyle. But it's unlikely to happen, in that he has dismissed Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia, and World of Darkness out of hand as they don't fit with his idea of an enjoyable game. some people improve, others lash out.

No, it requires the player to be a mature adult. Mature adults either work out their differences of expectations or peacefully go their separate ways acknowledging that they each want to play a separate game. Immature children throw fits, lash out and ruin everyone else's good time because they aren't getting their way 100% of the time. Don't games with immature children, until they can behave like mature adults. It's rewarding bad behavior. You wouldn't continue to play checkers with a player who keeps trying to play with the rules of Go and whines about how if this was Go they would have so beaten you already, why would you play with a D&D player that's doing the TTRPG equivalent?

Marlowe
2014-11-14, 10:18 PM
Also, I nearly posted "Iron Her" instead of "Iron Heroes." Now I want to make a game called Iron Her.

In which the PCs perform missions for a sentient construct overlord who bears a strange resemblance to Margaret Thatcher?

NichG
2014-11-15, 12:19 AM
"I create an item with the ability to cast teleport x/day, where x>50, and allow it to be set to be chain cast."

Or

"I create a version of the spell which is only instantaneous to the caster, not the rest of the world, and teleports the caster relatively to the centre of the planet, not the place they are standing. Going by the rotation of the planet that should teleport me XYZ miles."


Or: Okay, I use Summon Monster to get a creature with Planeshift at will, and have him repeatedly shift us from the Material to the Ethereal and back. Whenever we return to the Material, we're within 5-500 miles of our destination no matter how far away we were originally, and I can follow up with Teleport when we're close enough.

Or: You edited the text of Teleport, but you forgot to edit the text of Master Earth! Or Shadow Walk! Or Astral Caravan! Or ...

The problem isn't the player giving themselves powers, its with the player taking up hours of game time playing whack-a-mole with the nerf. Yes, at the end of the day you can end up just banning all of those spells, but that's a day you've spent chasing around the player rather than having game. And it means that the player has forced you to ban a lot of stuff that you didn't initially have a problem with, because to try to get around your restrictions they have to abuse a lot of existing rules and twist them in weird ways, whereas before the creation of a hostile GM/player relationship no one really had the desire to break the system over their knee.


Then they should leave the game.

'Should' and 'will' are very different things. 'Should' works alright when you and the player believe that you both have the same goal in mind. If you do things that make the player believe that the DM is their enemy, then the player is a lot less likely to care about the damage they do to the rest of the game fighting their war with the DM.

This is basically the core of the problem with any approach that punishes the player rather than the character. So long as the DM and player believe that they share the goal of having fun together at game, you have a social contract which smooths over most of the rough edges of the system and situation. Once the player feels that this is not the case (or once the DM feels that this is not the case), then instead of the social dynamic acting to smooth over rough edges, it's in the player's interest to find those rough edges and sharpen and expose them because that's how they can fight back.



The same way toll roads do it. "Oh, you forgot how much bat guano you used, then you used it all and you can't cast any spells requiring it until you restock." Basically, "losing your ticket" means you take the worst possible outcome.


So the player overtly cheats. 'I have exactly 7 doses of bat guano left'. 'I thought you had 3?'. 'Nope, 7'. 'You had 3'. 'Well whatever, if you want to track all my materials for me, knock yourself out. Fine, three.' Next time it comes up 'I have exactly 5 doses of spider-in-a-jar left' and repeat. The DM can catch them some of the time, but the player has just shifted most of that annoyance-based mechanic from themselves back onto the DM. And onto the other players.



No, it requires the player to be a mature adult. Mature adults either work out their differences of expectations or peacefully go their separate ways acknowledging that they each want to play a separate game. Immature children throw fits, lash out and ruin everyone else's good time because they aren't getting their way 100% of the time. Don't games with immature children, until they can behave like mature adults. It's rewarding bad behavior. You wouldn't continue to play checkers with a player who keeps trying to play with the rules of Go and whines about how if this was Go they would have so beaten you already, why would you play with a D&D player that's doing the TTRPG equivalent?

Once the DM has started using player punishments instead of character punishments (e.g. annoyance-based mechanics), I'm pretty sure we've left the realm of 'mature adults' anyhow. This is the equivalent in Checkers or Go or whatever of watching the other player's eyes and, whenever they seem to be thinking about an area on the board where you don't want them to notice something, making a lot of loud noises and sudden motions. Its not against the rules, but it's bad sportsmanship.

Milo v3
2014-11-15, 12:24 AM
Or: Okay, I use Summon Monster to get a creature with Planeshift at will, and have him repeatedly shift us from the Material to the Ethereal and back. Whenever we return to the Material, we're within 5-500 miles of our destination no matter how far away we were originally, and I can follow up with Teleport when we're close enough.

That is likely why he has tonnes of houserules, if you tried that in jedipotters game you'd likely summon up a creature that attacks you rather than doing what you want.

jedipotter
2014-11-15, 01:37 AM
Or they put up enough resistance that they become unbearable to play with. I have had the 'joy' of playing with a person who only cared about combat, and essentially wanted a character with a big gun, and was annoyed if you suggested building his character in another way (such as "I had more fun playing an Illusionist than I ever had with an Evoker, why don't you try a more subtle wizard?"), and also got annoyed if you stopped his character from using the gun, especially if you optimised a non-standard character ("why is your character running forward? I can't hit the enemy with my cones!" "I'm a dex-based melee fighter, I have to do this to participate" "why didn't you just play a rogue? Or a ranged character?").

See, I would not game with that type of person....and I would not be friends with them either. It is not hard to kick people out of the game.



Imagine that player was at your table, and you had just ruled that he had to jump through hoops to use the gun that he has a 'right' to use via choosing it at character creation. You're lucky if this just means them leaving the game, this can evolve into them complaining about every little thing or loudly stating how they could fix the situation if you just gave them access to their gun.

Well, if they did not leave the game...it would lead to them getting kicked out very quickly. The player would be lucky to make it to three strikes, I'll have them leave on two.



"Oh look, I forgot to note down that I used some bat guano with the fireballs back there. I can't remember how many I threw, so I suppose I'll just drop x doses (proceeds to mime writing on sheet". Unless the GM double checks everything a player does then it is impossible to force them to use every single rule and house rule that you want them to. I don't know about you, but my game sometimes has as many as 8 players in it, and I have a hard enough time listening to what everyone is saying, let alone keeping a separate tally of their material components/whatever to make sure that they aren't breaking a rule.

How exactly do you make sure every rule that comes up is followed to the letter?

I keep track of everything in general, but I'll profile the problem players more. Sally is a good player, in five years she has never caused a problem. And when she forgets to keeps track of something, she takes the blame herself and will accept the bad. So when she looses track of her bat guano she just says ''I'll make i have zero''. Now Josh is a not so good player. He is always, almost, causing problems. So the DM keeps exact track of everything for his character.

And I keep the group five or less too.



"I create an item with the ability to cast teleport x/day, where x>50, and allow it to be set to be chain cast."

Or

"I create a version of the spell which is only instantaneous to the caster, not the rest of the world, and teleports the caster relatively to the centre of the planet, not the place they are standing. Going by the rotation of the planet that should teleport me XYZ miles."

Are just two circumventions for the teleport off the top of my head.

The flaw here is your saying a player is equal in power to the DM. So a player can just ''say something'' and it happens? I just don't get that type of game? If a player can just ''make up stuff'' it kinda makes the whole game pointless.

In my game, things like magic items and spells have to have their costs and such checked and modified by the DM, and more importunately approved by the DM. If a player wants to make ''frostball'' that does 1d6damage/level but wants it to be 1st level, then the DM will say ''nope it's third''.




You are assuming that all new players are the same. I prefer to play a system "by the book" before I play one with houserules, and as I have an intuitive understanding of maths based rules, if we are playing "Magicians and Minotaurs", a game that I'm new to, and I decide to roll up a cultist character, having read the descriptions of the classes and the magic and combat chapters, and are then told "oh, by the way, whenever you cast a Cultist spell I roll on a table of my design to decide which spell is actually cast" I would feel insulted and betrayed, despite the fact that when I first bought a copy of Dark Heresy (which I've never played from the players side) I wanted to play a psyker because the use of greater power came with greater risk (the one thing I don't like about the later games is how the risk of psychic powers became far less granular, with it being none/1 in 10/certain).

But there are new players who'll just say okay, because they don't naturally optimise.

I find playing by the book boring. And there are plenty of by-the-book games a player can join other then mine. And sure, when a player reads a book, looks over the poorly written and incomplete rules....and, of course, does the ''self interpretation'' of whatever they want to change to mean..they can create a great character. Then they come to the game all ready to kill off the other characters and ''take over the world''. Sure, they are stopped cold in my game. And they can cry all they want that page 42 says they can kill all the other characters...it still won't happen in my game.

And the whole point of a lot of my house rules is to send the problem players running. One look, and they never want to game with me. I just wave goodbye.




This requires you to be good friends with the player. I know that the combat obsessed player I mentioned earlier will be horrified when he learns that my Science Fiction game is not meant to be combat oriented, and I hope that the same thing will occur with him as it did with Kyle. But it's unlikely to happen, in that he has dismissed Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia, and World of Darkness out of hand as they don't fit with his idea of an enjoyable game. some people improve, others lash out.


I ''just know'' most of my players, I'm only friends with a couple of them. And my friends are never a problem, it's all the ''others''.

jedipotter
2014-11-15, 03:05 AM
Or: Okay, I use Summon Monster to get a creature with Planeshift at will, and have him repeatedly shift us from the Material to the Ethereal and back. Whenever we return to the Material, we're within 5-500 miles of our destination no matter how far away we were originally, and I can follow up with Teleport when we're close enough.

Well, I approve of the Planual Shortcut Idea, so players are free to use it. Though it comes with it's own dangers.... And lets not forget about the best part(And tons of players have fallen for this), Planeshift says From the Material Plane, you can reach any other plane, though you appear 5 to 500 miles (5d%) from your intended destination. So read that line a couple times so it sinks in. Do you see it? See the part where some players interpret the text to say when casing Planeshift to travel between any two planes you always appear within 5-500 miles of your destination. Well, guess what....that is not what the spell description says......



Or: You edited the text of Teleport, but you forgot to edit the text of Master Earth! Or Shadow Walk! Or Astral Caravan! Or ...

Well, I edit the text of the [Teleportation] descriptor, and then maybe spell by spell if needed.



The problem isn't the player giving themselves powers, its with the player taking up hours of game time playing whack-a-mole with the nerf. Yes, at the end of the day you can end up just banning all of those spells, but that's a day you've spent chasing around the player rather than having game. And it means that the player has forced you to ban a lot of stuff that you didn't initially have a problem with, because to try to get around your restrictions they have to abuse a lot of existing rules and twist them in weird ways, whereas before the creation of a hostile GM/player relationship no one really had the desire to break the system over their knee.

Not really sure what your talking about here?




'Should' and 'will' are very different things. 'Should' works alright when you and the player believe that you both have the same goal in mind. If you do things that make the player believe that the DM is their enemy, then the player is a lot less likely to care about the damage they do to the rest of the game fighting their war with the DM.

This is basically the core of the problem with any approach that punishes the player rather than the character. So long as the DM and player believe that they share the goal of having fun together at game, you have a social contract which smooths over most of the rough edges of the system and situation. Once the player feels that this is not the case (or once the DM feels that this is not the case), then instead of the social dynamic acting to smooth over rough edges, it's in the player's interest to find those rough edges and sharpen and expose them because that's how they can fight back.

Well...an ''enemy'' of mine does not sit in my house and play a game with me.....but maybe that is just me.

And guess my ''social declaration'' is more like My house rules have a primary goal of making the game more fun for everyone. As DM, I see it as important to fix, change and smooth over lots of the rules to do this. for example, i reduce the power of spellcasters and give mundanes nice things. And i understand that if you wanted to play a by-the-book spellcaster, you might not be happy. But my house rules are for everyone, not just you. And my house rules have been proven to work, time after time. so this is the way things will be."



So the player overtly cheats. 'I have exactly 7 doses of bat guano left'. 'I thought you had 3?'. 'Nope, 7'. 'You had 3'. 'Well whatever, if you want to track all my materials for me, knock yourself out. Fine, three.' Next time it comes up 'I have exactly 5 doses of spider-in-a-jar left' and repeat. The DM can catch them some of the time, but the player has just shifted most of that annoyance-based mechanic from themselves back onto the DM. And onto the other players.

There is the way I do it....sometimes. Just ignore what the character does. Like say I know they have zero bat guano. Then they cast fireball and lie and say ''oh yea i got seven bat guano left''. Then i will describe the fireball ''oh it burns the stone giants''....but not take off any actual damage.




Once the DM has started using player punishments instead of character punishments (e.g. annoyance-based mechanics), I'm pretty sure we've left the realm of 'mature adults' anyhow. This is the equivalent in Checkers or Go or whatever of watching the other player's eyes and, whenever they seem to be thinking about an area on the board where you don't want them to notice something, making a lot of loud noises and sudden motions. Its not against the rules, but it's bad sportsmanship.

I'm not sure how you separate player and character punishments? My gods watch their clerics and change their spells. So is that a character punishment or a player punishment?

NichG
2014-11-15, 03:55 AM
Well, I approve of the Planual Shortcut Idea, so players are free to use it. Though it comes with it's own dangers.... And lets not forget about the best part(And tons of players have fallen for this), Planeshift says From the Material Plane, you can reach any other plane, though you appear 5 to 500 miles (5d%) from your intended destination. So read that line a couple times so it sinks in. Do you see it? See the part where some players interpret the text to say when casing Planeshift to travel between any two planes you always appear within 5-500 miles of your destination. Well, guess what....that is not what the spell description says......

Well, I edit the text of the [Teleportation] descriptor, and then maybe spell by spell if needed.

Not really sure what your talking about here?


The above sort of sequence is what I'm talking about. Instead of making a rule which focuses everyone more on playing the game, a rule that appears as an attack on a player creates a dynamic where you're spending time on back-and-forth rules-lawyering with the 'problem player'. So the overall goal of making something not a problem has failed, because you're still spending time resolving that problem that was supposed to be gone now rather than on playing the game. The reason is because the approach taken actually encourages the player to resist it because the change is made in such a way as to directly attack the player's enjoyment of the game, rather than in a way that shows the player that the game will be more fun if they actively seek to go along with the spirit behind the ruling.

For example, lets say there's a problem where someone happens to find a pair of first level spells that create an infinite wealth loop. Compare the following three approaches:

1. For every 100gp spent at a store, the player whose character is spending that money must do a pushup to represent the crushing weight of the coinage.
2. Spot-ban those particular two spells.
3. Explain that a large portion of the enjoyment of the game is in getting rewards, loot, etc, and that the characters having infinite wealth at 1st level means that no treasure or reward found through the course of play will be satisfying compared to the stuff that the players have gamed the system to obtain. Furthermore, assuming a status-quo world designed for reasonable adventuring opportunities for characters of their level, there will be no combats that are actually worth playing out.

Rules that punish the player are like the first approach. The player will understandably be put out by a rule that basically just exists to make playing the game less enjoyable, while at the same time not actually stopping them from engaging in the behavior at all. So since you've as DM taken a hostile action against them (rather than against their character), many otherwise reasonable players will see it as an invitation to take a hostile action against you (rather than NPCs/etc in the world). Which means that they will no longer feel guilty about flaunting the intent of the rules, because you've basically lost the moral high ground. So they'll do stuff like get NPCs to buy their items for them (and who cares if half the time NPC runs away with the money when they have infinite wealth?), or bribe other players to take the punishment for them, or even bring in a friend who likes doing push-ups just to mess with you.

The second approach is sort of the neutral way. It spot-patches the problem but at the same time, if there's some other infinite combo you're going to have to do it again each time.

The third approach gets reasonable players to self-police their own excesses, because you've made it directly clear that while they can go ahead and do things like this, it will cause elements of the game that are important to its enjoyment to simply go away. If you can get the players to understand why its a bad idea to use an infinite wealth loop (or why its a bad idea to always teleport around and skip the travel time in between) then not only do you prevent the one problem, but the players will also proactively watch out for new problems of that sort and intentionally avoid them or point them out to you in advance.


I'm not sure how you separate player and character punishments? My gods watch their clerics and change their spells. So is that a character punishment or a player punishment?

It depends on the intent of that rule as well as how you implement it in practice. If you basically do this at a low level most of the time but then decide to apply it in a major way to Joe's character all of a sudden then that can be a problem. From Joe's point of view, its hard to tell whether you're doing it because its the legitimate effect of in-game causes, or if you're doing it because of some out-of-game slight. Is this happening because Joe's cleric failed to give alms to that beggar last game (and what about the fact that when Fred's cleric didn't give alms ten sessions ago, nothing happened)? Or is this happening because Joe got into an out-of-game rules argument with you last session about his deity's domains, and you're just taking your frustration out on Joe in game?

The important thing is not whether it actually 'is' a player punishment from the viewpoint of some external objective observer. It's whether or not the players feel as though the DM is out to get them out-of-game, versus feeling as though the DM is just doing their job of putting challenges in front of their characters. Something which is much more inconvenient for the player than it is for the character (like e.g. having to track lists of free material components) sends a strong signal that it's the player being attacked, not the character - because it does nothing to actually change the in-game situation.

Another good comparison is the problem of 'artificial difficulty' in video games. You could design e.g. a platformer where navigating the level is honestly difficult. Or you could design a platformer where the level is easy, but 5% of the time when the player presses a button the game decides to ignore the input. To a player, the former feels like 'fair' difficulty because it comes from the intrinsic details of the scenario, whereas the latter feels like 'unfair' difficulty because it only exists due to a metagame layer (namely, that the character is not taking actions but is instead responding to signals transmitted by an entity external to themselves). The former targets the character; the latter targets the player.

Edit: Because it wasn't clear in my response, I'm not at all saying you can't do the 'gods watch their clerics' thing without it being a player punishment. I'm saying that you have to do it in a way such that it appears fair to the players. That might mean creating a 'fake' system for it (clerics have a Favor score, certain punishments become activated at different Favor levels, and you tell clerics when they lose Favor or let them use a Phylactery of Faithfulness to detect it) or giving warning in advance of actions that will provoke an intervention or even just making sure that every person who is playing a divine caster experiences spells getting changed during the first few weeks they're playing that character, so they're used to the idea that it happens to everyone.

McBars
2014-11-15, 03:59 AM
If you're lost you planeshift - to a vol-can-o....

time after time
If you cast I will catch you - No bat guan-o

time after time

Anonymouswizard
2014-11-15, 07:18 AM
See, I would not game with that type of person....and I would not be friends with them either. It is not hard to kick people out of the game.

Imagine, for a moment, that you don't have absolute power in the group. Imagine a group where your expected to be polite, and where kicking someone out of a group due to a play style difference will get you kicked out of the group and the first player invited back.

That's what groups where I live do with players. Nobody even wants to suggest to kick someone out, at worst you'll act passive aggressive to try and make them leave (followed by getting chewed out by the rest of the group, because McFireball was fine if you gave him a combat per session).


Well, if they did not leave the game...it would lead to them getting kicked out very quickly. The player would be lucky to make it to three strikes, I'll have them leave on two.

I am amazed at the power your group let's you have. What if the rest of the group has no problems with the player? Most people aren't going to just let you kick out their friend because "he won't follow my house rules/play style", and will find someone else to GM the next game.


I keep track of everything in general, but I'll profile the problem players more. Sally is a good player, in five years she has never caused a problem. And when she forgets to keeps track of something, she takes the blame herself and will accept the bad. So when she looses track of her bat guano she just says ''I'll make i have zero''. Now Josh is a not so good player. He is always, almost, causing problems. So the DM keeps exact track of everything for his character.

And I keep the group five or less too.

I find that the more I keep track of the slower the game moves. Also, there's only a limited amount of space behind the screen, I don't want to have to keep my session notes, an initiative chart, a health chart for enemjes, and a list of my player's material components, because at that point I can't find anything.


The flaw here is your saying a player is equal in power to the DM. So a player can just ''say something'' and it happens? I just don't get that type of game? If a player can just ''make up stuff'' it kinda makes the whole game pointless.

In my game, things like magic items and spells have to have their costs and such checked and modified by the DM, and more importunately approved by the DM. If a player wants to make ''frostball'' that does 1d6damage/level but wants it to be 1st level, then the DM will say ''nope it's third''.

A GM only has the amount of power the group allows them to have. Assuming the scientific method exists in your universe I see no fair reason to ban the second one, rather than say "it will take you five seasons to research the spell".


I find playing by the book boring. And there are plenty of by-the-book games a player can join other then mine. And sure, when a player reads a book, looks over the poorly written and incomplete rules....and, of course, does the ''self interpretation'' of whatever they want to change to mean..they can create a great character. Then they come to the game all ready to kill off the other characters and ''take over the world''. Sure, they are stopped cold in my game. And they can cry all they want that page 42 says they can kill all the other characters...it still won't happen in my game.

And the whole point of a lot of my house rules is to send the problem players running. One look, and they never want to game with me. I just wave goodbye.

You are entitled to your opinion. But imagine I had never played D&D before, and join your game. I already have to keep umpteen rules straight, but now I have to try and work out all the houserules screwing a cleric over? Why can't he just edit my spell selection at the beginning of the game and tell me so?

Also, "poorly written and incomplete" only applies to certain games. And if it applies to all the games you play, prove that your house rules are well written and complete.


I ''just know'' most of my players, I'm only friends with a couple of them. And my friends are never a problem, it's all the ''others''.

I "just know" most of my players, but I wouldn't say that most of them aren't my friends. Sure, most of them aren't in my normal social group, but we crack jokes, share drink and snacks, and laugh when the Indonesian girl accidentally makes an innuendo.

In fact, I find that the players I know well are more disruptive, because they know that I'll put up with them.

Hytheter
2014-11-15, 08:12 AM
If you're lost you planeshift - to a vol-can-o....

If you cast I will catch you - No bat guan-o

I'm not sure volcano actually rhymes with guano but this is funny enough that I'll allow it

Sartharina
2014-11-15, 09:51 AM
Or: You edited the text of Teleport, but you forgot to edit the text of Master Earth! Or Shadow Walk! Or Astral Caravan! Or ... He doesn't need to edit the 'text' at all. He just needs to edit the intention of the spell.
Imagine, for a moment, that you don't have absolute power in the group. Imagine a group where your expected to be polite, and where kicking someone out of a group due to a play style difference will get you kicked out of the group and the first player invited back.Those are not the groups he plays with - the people he kicks out for playstyle differences are at odds with the rest of his 'core' group. Being both host and DM comes with quite a bit of power, freedom and authority. And every DM has the right to refuse to DM for another player, just as every player has the right to refuse to play with a given DM.


That's what groups where I live do with players. Nobody even wants to suggest to kick someone out, at worst you'll act passive aggressive to try and make them leave (followed by getting chewed out by the rest of the group, because McFireball was fine if you gave him a combat per session).So, you live in an area where there's more than one person willing to step up to DM, and the DM is not the host, nor close friends with the significant majority of the other players (Leaving only one or two tentatively-invited strangers to conflict with the group's playstlye)? You live a very privileged life.

Anonymouswizard
2014-11-15, 10:29 AM
Those are not the groups he plays with - the people he kicks out for playstyle differences are at odds with the rest of his 'core' group. Being both host and DM comes with quite a bit of power, freedom and authority. And every DM has the right to refuse to DM for another player, just as every player has the right to refuse to play with a given DM.

So, you live in an area where there's more than one person willing to step up to DM, and the DM is not the host, nor close friends with the significant majority of the other players (Leaving only one or two tentatively-invited strangers to conflict with the group's playstlye)? You live a very privileged life.

I live in an area with multiple gaming groups, and several people willing to GM, although I'm the only person willing to in my current group. I also don't host, but I can see why it would grant large amounts of power. But the fact is, where I come from most groups work like that, and there is a general attempt to follow the spirit of the GMs campaign (so if it was explained to be low magic or it became apparent three sessions in there would be minimal complaining). The groups also tend to be invite only, except if one's just starting up, so the "one or two tentatively-invited strangers" are generally excepted by the rest of the group and accommodated for, quickly just becoming "one of the group" after about a session (which comes with complaining privileges).

So yes, I'll concede that my gaming experience is rather privileged.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-15, 01:16 PM
The problem isn't the player giving themselves powers, its with the player taking up hours of game time playing whack-a-mole with the nerf.

Then you kick the player out of the game. Players who ruin the game for everyone else have no place at your table. Stop rewarding bad behavior.



'Should' and 'will' are very different things. 'Should' works alright when you and the player believe that you both have the same goal in mind. If you do things that make the player believe that the DM is their enemy, then the player is a lot less likely to care about the damage they do to the rest of the game fighting their war with the DM.

If they won't recuse themselves, and they refuse to play the same game everyone else is playing, then kick them out. Stop playing with players who ruin your fun.



So the player overtly cheats. 'I have exactly 7 doses of bat guano left'. 'I thought you had 3?'. 'Nope, 7'. 'You had 3'. 'Well whatever, if you want to track all my materials for me, knock yourself out. Fine, three.' Next time it comes up 'I have exactly 5 doses of spider-in-a-jar left' and repeat. The DM can catch them some of the time, but the player has just shifted most of that annoyance-based mechanic from themselves back onto the DM. And onto the other players.

Your player is actively cheating at the game. Kick them out. Players who cheat and ruin the fun of everyone else at the table have no place at the table. Stop rewarding cheaters by continuing to play with them.



Once the DM has started using player punishments instead of character punishments (e.g. annoyance-based mechanics), I'm pretty sure we've left the realm of 'mature adults' anyhow.

You're using player punishments because you have a player problem, not a character problem. This isn't a cleric of healing who's been slaughtering innocents. So far you have posited a player that actively seeks to circumvent the restrictions the DM has placed on the game and that all the other players have agreed with. A player that when they don't get their way, throws temper tantrums and argues and wastes everyone else's time and then whines and complains when they don't get their way all the time. A player who actively and knowingly cheats and lies. Last but not least you've posited a player that just does not want to play the game that you and all the other players are playing. This is a PLAYER problem and needs to be dealt with as such.



For example, lets say there's a problem where someone happens to find a pair of first level spells that create an infinite wealth loop. Compare the following three approaches:

1. For every 100gp spent at a store, the player whose character is spending that money must do a pushup to represent the crushing weight of the coinage.
2. Spot-ban those particular two spells.
3. Explain that a large portion of the enjoyment of the game is in getting rewards, loot, etc, and that the characters having infinite wealth at 1st level means that no treasure or reward found through the course of play will be satisfying compared to the stuff that the players have gamed the system to obtain. Furthermore, assuming a status-quo world designed for reasonable adventuring opportunities for characters of their level, there will be no combats that are actually worth playing out.

Perhaps we have a bit of miscommunication here. By the time we get to the idea of kicking players out of the game, or actively punishing them, I'm assuming you've already gone through options 2 and 3 in your list because that's what mature adults do when playing a social game like D&D. They communicate, discuss issues and come up with a compromise that both parties are willing to live with, or they agree to disagree and either one side backs down or they agree to go their separate ways.



From Joe's point of view, its hard to tell whether you're doing it because its the legitimate effect of in-game causes, or if you're doing it because of some out-of-game slight. Is this happening because Joe's cleric failed to give alms to that beggar last game (and what about the fact that when Fred's cleric didn't give alms ten sessions ago, nothing happened)? Or is this happening because Joe got into an out-of-game rules argument with you last session about his deity's domains, and you're just taking your frustration out on Joe in game?

If Joe has a concern, then Joe should talk to the DM about it, not become a passive aggressive cheater.


Something which is much more inconvenient for the player than it is for the character (like e.g. having to track lists of free material components) sends a strong signal that it's the player being attacked, not the character - because it does nothing to actually change the in-game situation.

Limiting resources absolutely changes the in game dynamic. But again, players with concerns with how their DM handle things should talk to the DM, not become annoying whiny pains. And ultimately, if the players feel the DM is doing a bad job, they are free to kick the DM out as well.


Imagine, for a moment, that you don't have absolute power in the group. Imagine a group where your expected to be polite, and where kicking someone out of a group due to a play style difference will get you kicked out of the group and the first player invited back.

You don't kick people out of groups for having differences in play style. You kick them out of the group for having a difference in play style, refusing to reach a compromise on it, refusing to discuss their issues with the DM, refusing to leave when it's clear they aren't playing and don't want to play the same game that everyone else is playing and then becoming whining cheating passive aggressive problems. No one here has suggested kicking a player out for having a different play style. The player being discussed here is one that we've already established is actively cheating and seeking to ruin the game for others.


Nobody even wants to suggest to kick someone out, at worst you'll act passive aggressive to try and make them leave (followed by getting chewed out by the rest of the group, because McFireball was fine if you gave him a combat per session).

If none of the other players have a problem with a player or their play style, then you're the one with the problem. That's always a distinct possibility. But that's not what we've been discussing here. We've been discussing a character that's ruining everyone else's game. Also this whole "nobody even wants to suggest to kick someone out" thing is half the problem. By not removing problem players from a game, every DM and player that puts up with problem players (whether player or DM) are contributing to the problem and rewarding bad and anti-social behavior. No one should play with players that ruin their fun and continuing to do so just creates problems.




I am amazed at the power your group let's you have. What if the rest of the group has no problems with the player? Most people aren't going to just let you kick out their friend because "he won't follow my house rules/play style", and will find someone else to GM the next game.
[/quote

Again, this isn't what we're talking about. We're talking about a player who's cheating.

[quote]
A GM only has the amount of power the group allows them to have. Assuming the scientific method exists in your universe I see no fair reason to ban the second one, rather than say "it will take you five seasons to research the spell".

Even with the scientific method, some things are impossible. No matter how much scientific method exists in your universe, or how many seasons your player says they spend researching it, they're not going to invent a perpetual motion machine.



You are entitled to your opinion. But imagine I had never played D&D before, and join your game. I already have to keep umpteen rules straight, but now I have to try and work out all the houserules screwing a cleric over? Why can't he just edit my spell selection at the beginning of the game and tell me so?

They should. Again, the assumption in this discussion is that you as a DM have already done the normal and mature adult behaviors of discussion and compromise first.



Also, "poorly written and incomplete" only applies to certain games. And if it applies to all the games you play, prove that your house rules are well written and complete.

Incomplete applies to all games because no game designer is sitting at your table. Even Gary Gygax had house rules and he wrote the gorram game.

SiuiS
2014-11-15, 01:27 PM
It sounds like "wonder and mystery" translate to having an incredibly frustrating time playing a spellcaster

Not at all. It's simply a matter of focus.

A wizard learns a spell well enough to use it reliably without backfire. In standard D&D, that's inferred; you gain a level, gauna spell, never worry about it.

A mystery and wonder approach would involve more Roleplaying to figure out the basics of the spell, what the variables are, which changes are safe, and how to align energies and forces that mundane folks can't see and don't know about.

The end result is exactly the same. In most D&D games, people say "I train for my new ability". In others, the training itself is the fun part and not glossed over. Look up Arneson's magic system, the one they almost used instead of Vancian for old D&D.

NichG
2014-11-15, 02:36 PM
Then you kick the player out of the game. Players who ruin the game for everyone else have no place at your table. Stop rewarding bad behavior.

If they won't recuse themselves, and they refuse to play the same game everyone else is playing, then kick them out. Stop playing with players who ruin your fun.

Your player is actively cheating at the game. Kick them out. Players who cheat and ruin the fun of everyone else at the table have no place at the table. Stop rewarding cheaters by continuing to play with them.

The point I'm trying to make is that this is a player who would not be a problem at all if you took a different approach. All this kind of hostile approach does is create and amplify bad behavior. Its sort of like saying 'Well, whenever I invite someone over for dinner I punch them in the face to see if they'll punch me back. Because that lets me tell if they're a violent person, and I don't want violent people in my home'. The hostility is created by taking an antagonistic stance to begin. Its not intrinsic to the player.

A lot of people will be reasonable if they feel that they are being treated reasonably. But when a person is attacked or abused (or perceives their situation as such), that triggers an instinctual response to fight back. The trick is to correct peoples' misbehaviors in a way that doesn't make them defensive - e.g. don't do things that are going to be interpreted as an attack.



You're using player punishments because you have a player problem, not a character problem. This isn't a cleric of healing who's been slaughtering innocents. So far you have posited a player that actively seeks to circumvent the restrictions the DM has placed on the game and that all the other players have agreed with. A player that when they don't get their way, throws temper tantrums and argues and wastes everyone else's time and then whines and complains when they don't get their way all the time. A player who actively and knowingly cheats and lies. Last but not least you've posited a player that just does not want to play the game that you and all the other players are playing. This is a PLAYER problem and needs to be dealt with as such.

I'm positing a player who resorts to such disruptive behavior because they feel the need to protect themselves in an environment where someone else has power over them and is using that power to attack them. The origin of this discussion was in using player-punishing mechanics to perform an adjustment on the thematic structure of the game mechanics (namely, to disincentivize magic). At the point where you've applied that mechanic (detailed tracking of free material components, lets say), no one has yet misbehaved! However, my point is that that sort of mechanic is likely to induce problematic behavior in otherwise reasonable players because it will be interpreted as a sign that you are not making rules modifications for their enjoyment, but instead to inflict an out-of-character punishment.

The thing is, if your goal is to change the thematic structure of the game, you can do that without annoyance-based mechanics! All you have to do is to design rules such that incentives and disincentives focus on things which have entirely in-game consequences and demands rather than spilling over into out-of-game stuff. For example, lets take this rule about material component tracking. If you wanted to achieve the same effect as that rule without pissing people off as much, then you could do the following: don't make the players track each material component, but instead make all spells with 'free' or cheaper components instead have material components which cost 10gp per spell level squared, and let them purchase those components retroactively after the adventure (e.g. they don't need to have the stuff on their sheet, or even the gold for it, when they cast the spell; they just have to keep track of how many spell levels they used, and it comes out of the loot for the adventure at the end of the session, with excess being a debt to the local wizard guild). This makes the out-of-game act of actually playing the game no more difficult for the players than before, but it uses in-game consequences to disincentivize frequent spell casting.



Perhaps we have a bit of miscommunication here. By the time we get to the idea of kicking players out of the game, or actively punishing them, I'm assuming you've already gone through options 2 and 3 in your list because that's what mature adults do when playing a social game like D&D. They communicate, discuss issues and come up with a compromise that both parties are willing to live with, or they agree to disagree and either one side backs down or they agree to go their separate ways.

Maybe we do. This is about using annoyance-based mechanics in the first place. My point is that if you design a game (keeping specific players out of it for now) that uses annoyance-based mechanics to try to incentivize particular behavior, you're basically doing option 1 before the players even sit down. You're presuming up front that you can't do option 3 and instead have to hard-code it into the game system. Otherwise, rather than building an annoyance-based-mechanic into the game you could just ask the players to behave differently - or use a non-annoyance-based mechanic (e.g. option 2)


If Joe has a concern, then Joe should talk to the DM about it, not become a passive aggressive cheater.

If we're talking 'shoulds', the DM should endeavor to design and run the game in a way that doesn't give Joe a cause to be concerned in the first place. Another should: the DM should be aware of how their rulings and actions might be perceived by their players and take that into account in deciding how to act. The DM doesn't have to be honest or forthright or even fair and impartial, but they must at least give a convincing illusion of being so.


Limiting resources absolutely changes the in game dynamic. But again, players with concerns with how their DM handle things should talk to the DM, not become annoying whiny pains. And ultimately, if the players feel the DM is doing a bad job, they are free to kick the DM out as well.

See my proposed rule a few paragraphs back for an example how to limit resources without it being an annoyance-based mechanic.

SiuiS
2014-11-15, 03:53 PM
Can I just say that I love that these are both things that exist? :smallbiggrin: (Even though I'd never play in either of them.).

I've played in JediPotter style games. They're much easier to roll with than you'd think.


It makes sense. That's actually one thing that kinda irritates me about D&D in general. Characters whose concept revolves around being exemplars of a certain ethos can blithely ignore it without penalty, with the exception of the Paladin.

Granted, this sort of thing really ought not to be secret. Surely other clerics before them have transgressed their vows.

Aye. They aren't supposed to be able to blithely ignore their ethos, but the newest rules iterations took the teeth away from the DM to enforce this stuff.


Err, Clerics and Druids can fall for impiety too. And arcanists' power doesn't come from their ethos so I don't see why it matters.

Arcanists, it depends. There's an acceptable view wherein arcane magic comes from dealing and invoking supernatural forces (which may be sentient), rather than just SCIENCE!


WE DON'T TALK ABOUT THAT. Some scars run too deep, man.

Huh. What? I'll have look that up.


The point I'm trying to make is that this is a player who would not be a problem at all if you took a different approach. All this kind of hostile approach does is create and amplify bad behavior. Its sort of like saying 'Well, whenever I invite someone over for dinner I punch them in the face to see if they'll punch me back. Because that lets me tell if they're a violent person, and I don't want violent people in my home'. The hostility is created by taking an antagonistic stance to begin. Its not intrinsic to the player.

A lot of people will be reasonable if they feel that they are being treated reasonably. But when a person is attacked or abused (or perceives their situation as such), that triggers an instinctual response to fight back. The trick is to correct peoples' misbehaviors in a way that doesn't make them defensive - e.g. don't do things that are going to be interpreted as an attack.


Aye. I've been that player before.

Believe it or not, once you get past the pithy responses, Jedipotter's game isn't quite this bad. JediPotter tells people the world has mystery and wonder and magic is unpredictable; you wouldn't then tell people how those unpredictability things work because that's self defeating.

The solution isn't to singularly attack teleport, then greater teleport, then astral caravan, then shadow haunt, then ... . The solution is to say "look, I made that rule for a reason. Similar effects are going to be like that across the board. Work with me on this instead of trying to put me against the rulebooks because I guarantee you that the rulebooks will not be the winner." Players are usually happy to go "oh the world doesn't work like that, okay" unless they have a build or high OP thing that relies on it working differently.

jedipotter
2014-11-15, 03:57 PM
The above sort of sequence is what I'm talking about. Instead of making a rule which focuses everyone more on playing the game, a rule that appears as an attack on a player creates a dynamic where you're spending time on back-and-forth rules-lawyering with the 'problem player'. So the overall goal of making something not a problem has failed, because you're still spending time resolving that problem that was supposed to be gone now rather than on playing the game. The reason is because the approach taken actually encourages the player to resist it because the change is made in such a way as to directly attack the player's enjoyment of the game, rather than in a way that shows the player that the game will be more fun if they actively seek to go along with the spirit behind the ruling.


I don't see how it attacks the player. Unless your saying the player is attack the DM first by making up their own rules. A spell has the effect it says in the description, each spell is not a ''wish'' where the player can do whatever they want.





For example, lets say there's a problem where someone happens to find a pair of first level spells that create an infinite wealth loop. Compare the following three approaches:

OK




Rules that punish the player are like the first approach. The player will understandably be put out by a rule that basically just exists to make playing the game less enjoyable, while at the same time not actually stopping them from engaging in the behavior at all. So since you've as DM taken a hostile action against them (rather than against their character), many otherwise reasonable players will see it as an invitation to take a hostile action against you (rather than NPCs/etc in the world). Which means that they will no longer feel guilty about flaunting the intent of the rules, because you've basically lost the moral high ground. So they'll do stuff like get NPCs to buy their items for them (and who cares if half the time NPC runs away with the money when they have infinite wealth?), or bribe other players to take the punishment for them, or even bring in a friend who likes doing push-ups just to mess with you.

Well, I would never claim the moral high ground......

But this makes no sense. Are there Dm's that tell players to do such physical things? I've never heard of it. Seems kinda silly. Like Fear Factor maybe ''ok to cast a spell you need to eat a spider!''.



The second approach is sort of the neutral way. It spot-patches the problem but at the same time, if there's some other infinite combo you're going to have to do it again each time.

Is it neutral to just fix the spells so there is no loop? Sure it needs to be done for all the loops, but so what?



The third approach gets reasonable players to self-police their own excesses, because you've made it directly clear that while they can go ahead and do things like this, it will cause elements of the game that are important to its enjoyment to simply go away. If you can get the players to understand why its a bad idea to use an infinite wealth loop (or why its a bad idea to always teleport around and skip the travel time in between) then not only do you prevent the one problem, but the players will also proactively watch out for new problems of that sort and intentionally avoid them or point them out to you in advance.

Sure, number three sounds great....and it works...in a perfect world. But sadly it does not work in the real world. It's kinda like saying ''if we tell everyone crime is bad, then on one will commit crimes''. A lot of players are jerks or at best can be very selfish...or maybe they just don't care. In any case you can explain why ''X'' is bad for the game....and they won't be moved one bit. They see no problem with having a billion gold coins, so you can't make them understand.



It depends on the intent of that rule as well as how you implement it in practice. If you basically do this at a low level most of the time but then decide to apply it in a major way to Joe's character all of a sudden then that can be a problem. From Joe's point of view, its hard to tell whether you're doing it because its the legitimate effect of in-game causes, or if you're doing it because of some out-of-game slight. Is this happening because Joe's cleric failed to give alms to that beggar last game (and what about the fact that when Fred's cleric didn't give alms ten sessions ago, nothing happened)? Or is this happening because Joe got into an out-of-game rules argument with you last session about his deity's domains, and you're just taking your frustration out on Joe in game?

Who cares about out-of-game stuff? I don't mess with players as they took the last Mt. Dew. Again that is just silly.

But if Joe wants to be a ''Victim Player'' and think the DM is out to get him.....then he has ruined the game for himself.



The important thing is not whether it actually 'is' a player punishment from the viewpoint of some external objective observer. It's whether or not the players feel as though the DM is out to get them out-of-game, versus feeling as though the DM is just doing their job of putting challenges in front of their characters. Something which is much more inconvenient for the player than it is for the character (like e.g. having to track lists of free material components) sends a strong signal that it's the player being attacked, not the character - because it does nothing to actually change the in-game situation.

A player paranoid about the Dm is a lost cause. They will be happy when they are told to leave.

And plenty of the rules are made to control players, but not ''attack them''.








Edit: Because it wasn't clear in my response, I'm not at all saying you can't do the 'gods watch their clerics' thing without it being a player punishment. I'm saying that you have to do it in a way such that it appears fair to the players. That might mean creating a 'fake' system for it (clerics have a Favor score, certain punishments become activated at different Favor levels, and you tell clerics when they lose Favor or let them use a Phylactery of Faithfulness to detect it) or giving warning in advance of actions that will provoke an intervention or even just making sure that every person who is playing a divine caster experiences spells getting changed during the first few weeks they're playing that character, so they're used to the idea that it happens to everyone.

Except to make something ''look and feel'' fair....it has to be fake. Like if you held a Top Three Lottery in Waterdeep. You'd get 500 humans that put in tickets, 100 halflings, 50 dwarves, 30 gnomes and 5 evles. So, if you just ''draw random tickets''...then chances are you will get three humans. And your Lotto will ''look and feel'' unfair. So it make it right, you need to rig the lotto so one human, one halfling and one dwarf win.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-15, 04:07 PM
The point I'm trying to make is that this is a player who would not be a problem at all if you took a different approach. All this kind of hostile approach does is create and amplify bad behavior.

Modifying the rules, including making a particular mechanic more difficult to use is not in and of itself hostile behavior and any player who assumes it is without evidence is an immature child.


At the point where you've applied that mechanic (detailed tracking of free material components, lets say), no one has yet misbehaved! However, my point is that that sort of mechanic is likely to induce problematic behavior in otherwise reasonable players because it will be interpreted as a sign that you are not making rules modifications for their enjoyment, but instead to inflict an out-of-character punishment.

Again see above. Any player who assumes that a DM ruling or house rule which doesn't go in their favor or makes something more difficult is made specifically to attack them and makes this assumption without any prior evidence is an immature child and should not be played with. Period. Mature adults work out their differences with communication. The DM is responsible for communicating the rules. A player who has issue with those rules and whom does not understand the purpose of the DM's rule should then seek clarification and discussion if necessary. Becoming a passive aggressive petulant child is not acceptable behavior, even if your feelings were hurt.


For example, lets take this rule about material component tracking. If you wanted to achieve the same effect as that rule without pissing people off as much, then you could do the following: don't make the players track each material component, but instead make all spells with 'free' or cheaper components instead have material components which cost 10gp per spell level squared, and let them purchase those components retroactively after the adventure (e.g. they don't need to have the stuff on their sheet, or even the gold for it, when they cast the spell; they just have to keep track of how many spell levels they used, and it comes out of the loot for the adventure at the end of the session, with excess being a debt to the local wizard guild). This makes the out-of-game act of actually playing the game no more difficult for the players than before, but it uses in-game consequences to disincentivize frequent spell casting.

Post hoc resource tracking is not at all the same thing (nor does it produce the same results) as a priori resource tracking. The only thing your suggested mechanic does is tax spell casting. It does not change the calculations that go into which spells to use and when. In other words, unless you're also running a treasure poor campaign and the wizard's guild has knee cappers that come after you for your debts, your suggested mechanic does nothing to address the OP's primary issue which was the prevalence and ease of magic throughout the system. Also, any player who feels that being required to keep track of their bat guano for fireballs is an attack against them personally is likely to react exactly the same way to a rule that boils down to "You must pay the GM 500GP per use of your class abilities." They're also just as likely to cheat about the number of spells and levels they cast as they are to cheat about the resources they still have. Or in short, you still have a player problem.




Maybe we do. This is about using annoyance-based mechanics in the first place. My point is that if you design a game (keeping specific players out of it for now) that uses annoyance-based mechanics to try to incentivize particular behavior, you're basically doing option 1 before the players even sit down. You're presuming up front that you can't do option 3 and instead have to hard-code it into the game system. Otherwise, rather than building an annoyance-based-mechanic into the game you could just ask the players to behave differently - or use a non-annoyance-based mechanic (e.g. option 2)

There's no such thing as an "annoyance-based" mechanic without a person to be annoyed. For example, magic in Call of Cthulhu always comes with a price, often a very steep one that can and will end your character's life right then and there. Some people would find this annoying but it creates a world and feeling that would not be possible with say a mechanic that magic might kill you later on. Resource tracking is not and has never been an "annoyance-based" mechanic. It is a mechanic. One that some people find annoying, and other people find gives them the game they want. The problem is you're making value judgements as to the intent of the mechanic (to attack a person) without regard to the intent or setting desired.



If we're talking 'shoulds', the DM should endeavor to design and run the game in a way that doesn't give Joe a cause to be concerned in the first place. Another should: the DM should be aware of how their rulings and actions might be perceived by their players and take that into account in deciding how to act.

Yes they should. I have never suggested otherwise.



The DM doesn't have to be honest or forthright or even fair and impartial, but they must at least give a convincing illusion of being so.

Yes they do. They must be all of the above and failure to be so is to fail as a DM. Perhaps this is your problem with these mechanics, it appears you don't (or can't) actually trust your DM. And one who can't trust their DM would of course assume that every ruling or rule the DM makes the negatively affects their character would be an attack on the player as opposed to designed to further the game and the fun of all involved. You should find a better DM.

jedipotter
2014-11-15, 05:16 PM
Imagine, for a moment, that you don't have absolute power in the group. Imagine a group where your expected to be polite, and where kicking someone out of a group due to a play style difference will get you kicked out of the group and the first player invited back.

That's what groups where I live do with players. Nobody even wants to suggest to kick someone out, at worst you'll act passive aggressive to try and make them leave (followed by getting chewed out by the rest of the group, because McFireball was fine if you gave him a combat per session).

Yea, I don't go for passive aggressive.....I like aggressive aggressive. And if i somehow got in the spot like that...I would simply not DM.




I am amazed at the power your group let's you have. What if the rest of the group has no problems with the player? Most people aren't going to just let you kick out their friend because "he won't follow my house rules/play style", and will find someone else to GM the next game.

I'm amazed too...great ones to not take power, they have to trust apron them. Well, the DM is all powerful is a good rule for a group to have, as is the host is all powerful.....and if the DM is both they are all mighty.

I don't really ask what other players think...and they don't often share. I only kick out as a last resort, after a strike or two. It's much more common for a player to leave with the ''you guys suck I'm going home!''





I find that the more I keep track of the slower the game moves. Also, there's only a limited amount of space behind the screen, I don't want to have to keep my session notes, an initiative chart, a health chart for enemjes, and a list of my player's material components, because at that point I can't find anything.

You just need to be better organized. Get some binders with tabs. And paperclips.

Though it also helps to have a fast game too. Like only giving players five seconds to state an action in combat. And not allowing game questions or discussions. Not allowing OOC stuff. And so on.





A GM only has the amount of power the group allows them to have. Assuming the scientific method exists in your universe I see no fair reason to ban the second one, rather than say "it will take you five seasons to research the spell".

Sure, that is kinda the point though. And I'm Unfair....so....




You are entitled to your opinion. But imagine I had never played D&D before, and join your game. I already have to keep umpteen rules straight, but now I have to try and work out all the houserules screwing a cleric over? Why can't he just edit my spell selection at the beginning of the game and tell me so?

Also, "poorly written and incomplete" only applies to certain games. And if it applies to all the games you play, prove that your house rules are well written and complete.

I don't recommend playing a cleric for newbees. Repeat: ''I want to play a Fighter character''. And Idon't like bans, Ilike ''you can use it...with an * after it :) "




I "just know" most of my players, but I wouldn't say that most of them aren't my friends. Sure, most of them aren't in my normal social group, but we crack jokes, share drink and snacks, and laugh when the Indonesian girl accidentally makes an innuendo.

In fact, I find that the players I know well are more disruptive, because they know that I'll put up with them.

Well, I don't ''put up with much'' any time. So people I know fit that type. If they don't....then I don't know them. It just depends what type of person you are.

Knaight
2014-11-15, 05:49 PM
Except to make something ''look and feel'' fair....it has to be fake. Like if you held a Top Three Lottery in Waterdeep. You'd get 500 humans that put in tickets, 100 halflings, 50 dwarves, 30 gnomes and 5 evles. So, if you just ''draw random tickets''...then chances are you will get three humans. And your Lotto will ''look and feel'' unfair. So it make it right, you need to rig the lotto so one human, one halfling and one dwarf win.

That's 500 humans out of a population of 685. The three humans scenario has a whopping 38.9% chance of happening, which is well within the range that makes things look and feel fair, provided that it didn't happen time and time again (where the odds start getting worse). A half decent understanding of probability is enough to pick up on that.

The same thing applies to a lot of other cases. If the thing actually is fair, and people actually pay attention to the events, it will look fair. It might not seem fair from a very cursory perspective, but the context of RPGs is one where everyone involved is an active participant (generally, occasionally there are passive players who just don't do anything, but I've found that people either switch to being an active participant pretty quickly or stop playing). The cursory perspective problem is a non-issue.

Erik Vale
2014-11-15, 07:16 PM
Just from first post I'm going to stop you and say:
3.5 is built with assumptions, one of which is common magic. If you don't like and then don't use that assumption, you're gimping your players hard outside of a small number of conditions [i.e. E6]. Thus, if you don't like how 3.5 does magic, don't play 3.5. And perhaps, avoid dnd.
Might I suggest Heroes? [Shamelessly promoting my favourite system.] Or maybe Gurps? [Or different, apparently similar system.]

Nagash
2014-11-15, 07:40 PM
The point I'm trying to make is that this is a player who would not be a problem at all if you took a different approach. All this kind of hostile approach does is create and amplify bad behavior. Its sort of like saying 'Well, whenever I invite someone over for dinner I punch them in the face to see if they'll punch me back. Because that lets me tell if they're a violent person, and I don't want violent people in my home'.

Thats not even close. At all.

The example given in this thread is more like "when i invite people over I ask that they take their shoes off in the foyer so i can keep my carpet cleaner"

And then this player came in and refused to take off his shoes, spit on your kitchen floor and called your wife ugly while demanding you give him one of your beers.

jedipotter
2014-11-15, 11:21 PM
The point I'm trying to make is that this is a player who would not be a problem at all if you took a different approach. All this kind of hostile approach does is create and amplify bad behavior. Its sort of like saying 'Well, whenever I invite someone over for dinner I punch them in the face to see if they'll punch me back. Because that lets me tell if they're a violent person, and I don't want violent people in my home'. The hostility is created by taking an antagonistic stance to begin. Its not intrinsic to the player.

But see it's not attacking one player, it's having blanket house rules in place. I have Divine House Rules, 9 out of 10 players that have used them like them. So player Zak comes out of the woods and says ''your rules suck!", and so they should just be tossed out as King Zak does not like them?

It's kinda like if i invite you over to dinner I will serve you no alcoholic drinks...I don't drink. So, if you feel you must drink at dinner, you must bring your own supply.



A lot of people will be reasonable if they feel that they are being treated reasonably. But when a person is attacked or abused (or perceives their situation as such), that triggers an instinctual response to fight back. The trick is to correct peoples' misbehaviors in a way that doesn't make them defensive - e.g. don't do things that are going to be interpreted as an attack.

A lot of people are unreasonable too...all the time. And some people interpret anything as an attack.




I'm positing a player who resorts to such disruptive behavior because they feel the need to protect themselves in an environment where someone else has power over them and is using that power to attack them. The origin of this discussion was in using player-punishing mechanics to perform an adjustment on the thematic structure of the game mechanics (namely, to disincentivize magic). At the point where you've applied that mechanic (detailed tracking of free material components, lets say), no one has yet misbehaved! However, my point is that that sort of mechanic is likely to induce problematic behavior in otherwise reasonable players because it will be interpreted as a sign that you are not making rules modifications for their enjoyment, but instead to inflict an out-of-character punishment.

Well, the reasonable player just says ''ok'' and plays under the house rule....that is why they are reasonable. I'm more then willing to explain to them while the rule exists, and I have little doubt they know plenty of problem players that it targets.

And you don't apply all rules after the fact. Some you do before. You don't need to wait for a kid to be hit by a car to tell your kids ''don't play in the street''.




The thing is, if your goal is to change the thematic structure of the game, you can do that without annoyance-based mechanics! All you have to do is to design rules such that incentives and disincentives focus on things which have entirely in-game consequences and demands rather than spilling over into out-of-game stuff. For example, lets take this rule about material component tracking. If you wanted to achieve the same effect as that rule without pissing people off as much, then you could do the following: don't make the players track each material component, but instead make all spells with 'free' or cheaper components instead have material components which cost 10gp per spell level squared, and let them purchase those components retroactively after the adventure (e.g. they don't need to have the stuff on their sheet, or even the gold for it, when they cast the spell; they just have to keep track of how many spell levels they used, and it comes out of the loot for the adventure at the end of the session, with excess being a debt to the local wizard guild). This makes the out-of-game act of actually playing the game no more difficult for the players than before, but it uses in-game consequences to disincentivize frequent spell casting.

I don't really follow your ''out of game'' annoyance complaint. 3.5 D&D is a lot of bookkeeping....it just is. So if a player is not up for that, it is all on them. Just take spells. I expect all players to know basically what their spell does in detail. I encourage them to make spell cards. But when Lazy Larry shows up and does the ''hey DM what does this spell do?'' I don't encourage him....he gets his turn skipped. So, yea, it's a lot of ''out of game'' work to play a spellcaster in D&D, but if a player wants to, they must step up.

And for the Components....this house rule does work beautifully. First a lot of problem players simply do not make spellcasters. They stick to something mundane. It's also a nice low level feat tax for spellcasters to take Eshew Materials. And it gets players to pick easy material spells or no material spells....nicely limiting spell selection.




Maybe we do. This is about using annoyance-based mechanics in the first place. My point is that if you design a game (keeping specific players out of it for now) that uses annoyance-based mechanics to try to incentivize particular behavior, you're basically doing option 1 before the players even sit down. You're presuming up front that you can't do option 3 and instead have to hard-code it into the game system. Otherwise, rather than building an annoyance-based-mechanic into the game you could just ask the players to behave differently - or use a non-annoyance-based mechanic (e.g. option 2)

Right, but what do you do when people are not reasonable? There is nothing wrong with being proactive.





If we're talking 'shoulds', the DM should endeavor to design and run the game in a way that doesn't give Joe a cause to be concerned in the first place. Another should: the DM should be aware of how their rulings and actions might be perceived by their players and take that into account in deciding how to act. The DM doesn't have to be honest or forthright or even fair and impartial, but they must at least give a convincing illusion of being so.

I disagree. I like being clear and honest. I don't get why you'd want an illusion.

Aedilred
2014-11-16, 01:20 AM
One of the editions of Warhammer had some text about how you cannot play the game without using official Games Workshop miniatures, and even went so far as to say this applied even when playing a friendly game in your own home.

My friends and I cracked up when we first read that last bit and ever since have been making jokes about Games Workshop special forces agents watching us whenever we play just getting ready to storm our houses if they see a model they don't like.

I like a good whinge about GW as much as - possibly rather more than - the next man, but that seems to me like a wilful misconstruction. I've actually just checked all the rulebooks since 6th edition (and I'm certain it wasn't in any previous ones since they were still openly allowing third party figures at that point) and while it's possible I've missed it and I'm certainly not going to scour ~700 pages of repetitive, dreary rules for it I've checked all the places I would expect such a rule to appear. All the rulebooks say you will need an army. The later ones make a point of going on about Citadel miniatures and including lots of glossy advertisements photos for them and the phrase "you will need an army of Citadel miniatures" does appear at least once.

But nowhere does it say anything to the effect that you cannot play the game unless you have official Citadel miniatures, that miniatures from other manufacturers are forbidden (unsurprisingly, it makes no mention of them at all, since GW likes to pretend they don't exist) or anything of the sort unless you take an extremely and pretty much deliberately narrow interpretation of "you will need an army of Citadel miniatures. There are lots of Citadel miniatures. Here are some pretty pictures. BUY OUR MINIATURES". Moreover they make no mention of whether different rules apply whether at home or in another venue, with regard to acceptable figures or indeed anything at all.

(And, I mean, why would they say something like that unprompted? GW's whole shtick for the last eight years or so has been pretending their competition doesn't exist. Acknowledging it while simultaneously forbidding it just makes customers more likely to investigate and purchase it. An utterly boneheaded move, even for them, and moreso than that, completely against normal practice. I can see it appearing in a particularly ill-judged FAQ but the production or lack thereof of FAQ has been a consistent bone of contention against GW for years, so that seems unlikely too).

It's possible that some lines to that effect might have appeared in White Dwarf towards the end of its death spiral, but by that point WD had no value or bearing on anything at all and was only for those people who had swallowed the last drop of GW Kool-Aid (the people who still buy Visions) and therefore wouldn't need to be told that in the first place since they wouldn't consider possessing a non-GW figure in the first place.

There are many, many reasons to complain about or laugh at GW, but let's try to stick to reality.

Prince Raven
2014-11-16, 01:36 AM
There isn't anything specifically stating that you can't use third party models that I can tell (apart from their Warrior's Code, which only applies to official events). But there are bits like "This section explains how to fight battles with your army of Citadel miniatures in the grim darkness of the 41st Millennium." and "The Citadel miniatures used to play games of Warhammer 40,000 are referred to as ‘models’ in the rules that follow." So by strict reading of the rules, anything that isn't a Citadel miniature isn't a "model".

Also, I think we might be going off on a tangent, maybe we should go back to the original tangent of people arguing about houserules.

NichG
2014-11-16, 01:41 AM
Is it neutral to just fix the spells so there is no loop? Sure it needs to be done for all the loops, but so what?

Yes, that's neutral as well.



Sure, number three sounds great....and it works...in a perfect world. But sadly it does not work in the real world. It's kinda like saying ''if we tell everyone crime is bad, then on one will commit crimes''. A lot of players are jerks or at best can be very selfish...or maybe they just don't care. In any case you can explain why ''X'' is bad for the game....and they won't be moved one bit. They see no problem with having a billion gold coins, so you can't make them understand.

It works pretty well in the real world too. You have to understand the way your players think and communicate the consequences in ways they understand. Sometimes you can do it just by telling. Sometimes you have to lead them to the answer by asking questions (e.g. Socratic approach). Sometimes you can do it with social pressure by having the discussion as a group and then the player with the minority opinion will explicitly recognize it. Sometimes you have to use a demonstrative approach - let them have infinite power for one session and show directly how it makes the game crappy. Sometimes it takes more time than the alternatives as well. The upside of taking the effort to do this is that you cultivate the player for the long term - once they deeply understand, it lasts, and they become a better player for it and even teach other new players those ideas.


Modifying the rules, including making a particular mechanic more difficult to use is not in and of itself hostile behavior and any player who assumes it is without evidence is an immature child.

Again see above. Any player who assumes that a DM ruling or house rule which doesn't go in their favor or makes something more difficult is made specifically to attack them and makes this assumption without any prior evidence is an immature child and should not be played with. Period. Mature adults work out their differences with communication. The DM is responsible for communicating the rules. A player who has issue with those rules and whom does not understand the purpose of the DM's rule should then seek clarification and discussion if necessary. Becoming a passive aggressive petulant child is not acceptable behavior, even if your feelings were hurt.

Post hoc resource tracking is not at all the same thing (nor does it produce the same results) as a priori resource tracking. The only thing your suggested mechanic does is tax spell casting. It does not change the calculations that go into which spells to use and when. In other words, unless you're also running a treasure poor campaign and the wizard's guild has knee cappers that come after you for your debts, your suggested mechanic does nothing to address the OP's primary issue which was the prevalence and ease of magic throughout the system. Also, any player who feels that being required to keep track of their bat guano for fireballs is an attack against them personally is likely to react exactly the same way to a rule that boils down to "You must pay the GM 500GP per use of your class abilities." They're also just as likely to cheat about the number of spells and levels they cast as they are to cheat about the resources they still have. Or in short, you still have a player problem.

There's no such thing as an "annoyance-based" mechanic without a person to be annoyed. For example, magic in Call of Cthulhu always comes with a price, often a very steep one that can and will end your character's life right then and there. Some people would find this annoying but it creates a world and feeling that would not be possible with say a mechanic that magic might kill you later on. Resource tracking is not and has never been an "annoyance-based" mechanic. It is a mechanic. One that some people find annoying, and other people find gives them the game they want. The problem is you're making value judgements as to the intent of the mechanic (to attack a person) without regard to the intent or setting desired.


This tells me that you aren't getting the meaning of the term 'annoyance-based' mechanic, and that's probably the source of our miscommunication.

Let's be crystal clear about that first before moving forward. A mechanic can produce an annoyance or inconvenience for a player, but that doesn't make it annoyance-based. What makes a mechanic annoyance-based is when the intended purpose of the mechanic to incentivize/deincentivize something is achieved through making the player uncomfortable or annoyed, rather than through changing the in-game factors. A mechanic that charges people gold for using their class abilities isn't fundamentally annoyance-based, even if it penalizes characters asymmetrically. A mechanic that lets you use your class abilities but only if you do something tedious out-of-character is an annoyance-based mechanic, because it relies on taxing the out-of-game patience and enjoyment of players in order to implement the incentives.

- 'Casters must pay half their WBL in dues to the Wizard Guild' is perhaps annoying to some people, but it isn't annoyance-based. There is a direct mechanical consequence of that rule, which is that casters have less wealth than other characters.

- 'Casters must individually record each material component and must announce its purchase at the table to the DM.' on the other hand is annoyance-based, because as stated it has no actual in-game direct mechanical consequences, but it makes playing a caster far more tedious.

One test for whether something is annoyance-based is to ask what happens if you take a PC operating under this rule and turn them into an NPC. If the majority of the effect of the rule was because there was a player behind that character, then it might be annoyance-based.


Yes they do. They must be all of the above and failure to be so is to fail as a DM. Perhaps this is your problem with these mechanics, it appears you don't (or can't) actually trust your DM. And one who can't trust their DM would of course assume that every ruling or rule the DM makes the negatively affects their character would be an attack on the player as opposed to designed to further the game and the fun of all involved. You should find a better DM.

I only ever play with DMs I can trust, and unlike a lot of people here I've had a particularly good track record in finding such DMs for the past decade. But I also understand that the majority of the gaming experience is about illusions and the control of player perception. I don't actually need the DM to be a paragon of virtue for me to enjoy their game. For example, I have no problem with the DM fudging the hitpoints of a monster to extend combat or to cause it to end earlier because it's dragging on. However, it is important that I don't know when its happening. A DM who does that openly is still on firm ground with me, but it makes the gameplay kind of tepid - it's a rookie move. A DM who does it in secret and makes it seem as if he hasn't done so is doing a good job, because regardless of whatever the truth is behind the screen, I still feel as if the world exists independently of the metagame concerns.

If the DM wants to run a game with no visible mechanics, and it's entirely 'consult with me and I'll tell you what happens' then, great! If its a DM I know, or even a DM who seems like they have a cool idea going, I'm down for that. But if they tell me 'actually, its totally arbitrary, I just make whatever I feel like happen' then that takes the energy out of that idea. Now there's no longer secrets to uncover, there's no point in examining anything deeply or trying to figure stuff out - the answer is that its just the DM being arbitrary. The problem isn't that they were just being arbitrary, the problem is that they let on that that's what they were doing.

So if you want to be an unfair, biased, etc DM, go for it - as long as you successfully trick me into believing you're not. I'm willing to give out a lot of slack as long as the DM maintains the illusion of actually trying to make things fun for everyone, even if the reality is different. It doesn't matter to me what the truth behind the screen is, so long as you can do things in a way that doesn't let me perceive the stuff it seems I should get upset about. If you want to e.g. secretly consult one of the players outside of game and let their decisions drive the actions of the villainous organization while not giving everyone else that same opportunity, then fine, go for it - but keep it a secret, don't rub people's faces in it.


Thats not even close. At all.

The example given in this thread is more like "when i invite people over I ask that they take their shoes off in the foyer so i can keep my carpet cleaner"

And then this player came in and refused to take off his shoes, spit on your kitchen floor and called your wife ugly while demanding you give him one of your beers.

How is asking people to take their shoes off in the foyer an 'annoyance-based mechanic'? Because if it isn't, it isn't the example given in this thread - all of this discussion is centering around Grod's Law, which is explicitly only about annoyance-based mechanics.

Maybe something 'when I invite people over, I ask them to rub their feet against their pants-leg because I don't want them to track mud into the house, and if they have muddy shoes they won't want to make their pants dirty either'.


But see it's not attacking one player, it's having blanket house rules in place. I have Divine House Rules, 9 out of 10 players that have used them like them. So player Zak comes out of the woods and says ''your rules suck!", and so they should just be tossed out as King Zak does not like them?

Are those rules annoyance-based mechanics, or just rules that King Zak doesn't like? If they're annoyance-based mechanics you should toss them, not because King Zak doesn't like them, but because they're bad game design.



I don't really follow your ''out of game'' annoyance complaint. 3.5 D&D is a lot of bookkeeping....it just is. So if a player is not up for that, it is all on them. Just take spells. I expect all players to know basically what their spell does in detail. I encourage them to make spell cards. But when Lazy Larry shows up and does the ''hey DM what does this spell do?'' I don't encourage him....he gets his turn skipped. So, yea, it's a lot of ''out of game'' work to play a spellcaster in D&D, but if a player wants to, they must step up.


Yes, 3.5 D&D is a lot of book-keeping. This is a downside to the system, but it's in principle counter-balanced by the breadth of things you can do in the system as a result. Making the book-keeping worse as a way to disincentivize certain behaviors is just straight-out bad design, because the additional book-keeping is not being added because it's necessary for a particular increase in breadth, it's being added because you know people don't like book-keeping and you're trying to make them unhappy enough that they behave differently. That's what makes it a bad idea.



Right, but what do you do when people are not reasonable? There is nothing wrong with being proactive.


Why don't you just kick them proactively? You seem to be comfortable with doing that. If you're willing to kick players, there's no need for you to make bad game design decisions out of fear that you'll get an unreasonable player, because if that happens you can just boot them.


I disagree. I like being clear and honest. I don't get why you'd want an illusion.

Because the illusion is what determines what people will do, not the underlying reality. Often the reality has different demands than the psychology of the players - the players want a sandbox, but you've only prepared part of the world; the players want to be all powerful, but if that happens then the game will break down and be un-fun; the players want to be challenged, but they also want to succeed all the time. A big part of good DMing is knowing how to fulfill contradictory demands.

jedipotter
2014-11-16, 01:42 AM
That's 500 humans out of a population of 685. The three humans scenario has a whopping 38.9% chance of happening, which is well within the range that makes things look and feel fair, provided that it didn't happen time and time again (where the odds start getting worse). A half decent understanding of probability is enough to pick up on that.

The same thing applies to a lot of other cases. If the thing actually is fair, and people actually pay attention to the events, it will look fair. It might not seem fair from a very cursory perspective, but the context of RPGs is one where everyone involved is an active participant (generally, occasionally there are passive players who just don't do anything, but I've found that people either switch to being an active participant pretty quickly or stop playing). The cursory perspective problem is a non-issue.


Wait..wait..wait....see the population of Waterdeep is 120,000. The numbers are just the people that bought lotto tickets. But people don't know about probability....they just want things to ''look fair''.

And that is a big problem, as ''fairness'' is just ''whatever anyone wants it too be''.

Just take my divine magic rule. I sure think it's fair. Play your cleric and follow your gods ethos, is perfectly fair. Basically, all a player needs to do is play their character the right way. And if you do, you won't even notice the rules. How would it be more fair?

But, tons of people don't like it.....and they will say it's ''unfair''. Because ''unfair'' is whatever ''they don't like''.

Talakeal
2014-11-16, 02:11 AM
I like a good whinge about GW as much as - possibly rather more than - the next man, but that seems to me like a wilful misconstruction. I've actually just checked all the rulebooks since 6th edition (and I'm certain it wasn't in any previous ones since they were still openly allowing third party figures at that point) and while it's possible I've missed it and I'm certainly not going to scour ~700 pages of repetitive, dreary rules for it I've checked all the places I would expect such a rule to appear. All the rulebooks say you will need an army. The later ones make a point of going on about Citadel miniatures and including lots of glossy advertisements photos for them and the phrase "you will need an army of Citadel miniatures" does appear at least once.

But nowhere does it say anything to the effect that you cannot play the game unless you have official Citadel miniatures, that miniatures from other manufacturers are forbidden (unsurprisingly, it makes no mention of them at all, since GW likes to pretend they don't exist) or anything of the sort unless you take an extremely and pretty much deliberately narrow interpretation of "you will need an army of Citadel miniatures. There are lots of Citadel miniatures. Here are some pretty pictures. BUY OUR MINIATURES". Moreover they make no mention of whether different rules apply whether at home or in another venue, with regard to acceptable figures or indeed anything at all.

(And, I mean, why would they say something like that unprompted? GW's whole shtick for the last eight years or so has been pretending their competition doesn't exist. Acknowledging it while simultaneously forbidding it just makes customers more likely to investigate and purchase it. An utterly boneheaded move, even for them, and moreso than that, completely against normal practice. I can see it appearing in a particularly ill-judged FAQ but the production or lack thereof of FAQ has been a consistent bone of contention against GW for years, so that seems unlikely too).

It's possible that some lines to that effect might have appeared in White Dwarf towards the end of its death spiral, but by that point WD had no value or bearing on anything at all and was only for those people who had swallowed the last drop of GW Kool-Aid (the people who still buy Visions) and therefore wouldn't need to be told that in the first place since they wouldn't consider possessing a non-GW figure in the first place.

There are many, many reasons to complain about or laugh at GW, but let's try to stick to reality.

IIRC it was 40k not fantasy and was in one of the early apocalypse / forge world super heavy vehicle rules. It has been 10+ years and I don't remember the exact wording, but I specifically remembering it telling you that these rules applied even in private games.

Marlowe
2014-11-16, 02:16 AM
I'm just going to skip all this business about houseruling your way to nirvana and say I've played in plenty of campaigns (by "plenty" read "more than enough") where the DM tried to limit magic in ways such have been suggested.

They did not make the game more fun. They simply shut down options. They did not "balance" the casters. They simply ensured that the casters had to build themselves in certain ways in order to get around the arbitrary nerfs. They did not make the mundanes more effective. They made the mundanes pretty much helpless after a certain level, because the magical support assumed by the rules did not exist. Making it harder for the party to use magic doesn't mean the party is now immune to it. It just means they now have fewer counters.

In one hilarious incident the DM responsible for most of these destroyed his own campaign by railroading (read:forcibly teleporting) the party into what amounted to a closed-ring deathmatch against a couple of monsters that, because of various immunities, and resistances, nobody in the party could even hurt. He just disappeared on the excuse of an errand about round three and never came back.

So you might say; "That's with a bad DM (true). I'd never screw up like that (maybe true)". But I'm just going to say "Rather than have you screw with rules and trust you not to mess up too badly; how about you don't screw with rules in the first place and let us make our own decisions".

You know. Like mature adults.

Kelb_Panthera
2014-11-16, 03:59 AM
I'm just going to skip all this business about houseruling your way to nirvana and say I've played in plenty of campaigns (by "plenty" read "more than enough") where the DM tried to limit magic in ways such have been suggested.

They did not make the game more fun. They simply shut down options. They did not "balance" the casters. They simply ensured that the casters had to build themselves in certain ways in order to get around the arbitrary nerfs. They did not make the mundanes more effective. They made the mundanes pretty much helpless after a certain level, because the magical support assumed by the rules did not exist. Making it harder for the party to use magic doesn't mean the party is now immune to it. It just means they now have fewer counters.

In one hilarious incident the DM responsible for most of these destroyed his own campaign by railroading (read:forcibly teleporting) the party into what amounted to a closed-ring deathmatch against a couple of monsters that, because of various immunities, and resistances, nobody in the party could even hurt. He just disappeared on the excuse of an errand about round three and never came back.

This is exactly why you need to understand the metagame before you start futzing about with houserules that change the basic assumptions of the game. Low or even, with some effort, no magic -can- work but it's not so simple as simply cutting away magic items.


So you might say; "That's with a bad DM (true). I'd never screw up like that (maybe true)". But I'm just going to say "Rather than have you screw with rules and trust you not to mess up too badly; how about you don't screw with rules in the first place and let us make our own decisions".

You know. Like mature adults.

This attitude seems a bit extreme. There's nothing wrong with houserules, even extensive ones if they're well done or at least properly announced up-front.

The biggest problem with house rules is that many of them are made haphazardly and, worse, in direct response to a player doing something a DM wasn't prepared to handle.

Houserules, like it or not, are a form of game design. They should be carefully considered before implementation and really need to be properly announced up-front if they would seriously impact player choices.

Nagash
2014-11-16, 04:43 AM
How is asking people to take their shoes off in the foyer an 'annoyance-based mechanic'? Because if it isn't, it isn't the example given in this thread - all of this discussion is centering around Grod's Law, which is explicitly only about annoyance-based mechanics.

its an example of annoyance based mechanics as much as anything mentioned in any post in this thread, which is not at all.

It is however an example of a houserule. And some self entitled douchebag of a player thinking it shouldnt apply to them and deciding to deliberately act like a jerk because of it.

Oh and all while demanding you spend your resources (time=beer) running a game for them and their personal preferences first.

NichG
2014-11-16, 05:12 AM
its an example of annoyance based mechanics as much as anything mentioned in any post in this thread, which is not at all.

It is however an example of a houserule. And some self entitled douchebag of a player thinking it shouldnt apply to them and deciding to deliberately act like a jerk because of it.

Oh and all while demanding you spend your resources (time=beer) running a game for them and their personal preferences first.

Not sure when this became a discussion of 'any houserule at all'. The current discussion is not 'all houserules are bad: y/n?', it's 'houserules which intentionally try to annoy players in order to achieve their effects are bad: y/n'.

Saying 'Take off your shoes before coming in, because I don't want dirt on the carpet' is perfectly reasonable. Saying 'You can wear your shoes inside, but if you do then you have to make your own dinner' is being a passive-aggressive jerk about something which could have been a lot simpler if you were just straightforward and did the former thing instead.

The problem with some of these suggested rules to lessen people's use of magic is that they have the structure of the latter, not the former. They don't say 'you can't do this' or even 'please do this less' or 'we've added a cost so that the balance point is shifted and you have to be more careful with your resources'. They say 'you can do it just as much as before, but there's a totally unrelated annoyance that we're going to inflict on the player to try to discourage it'. That is what is being objected to, not the fact that it happens to be a house rule.

Eslin
2014-11-16, 06:09 AM
I agree with a lot of what you have said, and that is why my D&D game has lots of house rules. Except I don't like rare magic, I like mysterious and unknown magic. And I control the game with high powered magic. And that works great to restore the balance, as no matter how good or powerful the PC's get, there is always plenty to stop them.

Limiting spells is a great way to limit spellcaster power. I allow all D&D Wizard spells in my game, but most players stick to the ''top 20 must have'' spells like zombies, so they often over look the other 3,000 spells and that works out great for the game. Not that many players look through the spells anyway. Plus add the other 1,000 from the other d20 books that the players don't have and the other 2,000 some homebrewed ones. and the players only get to know ''a bit'' of the magic out there.

And I have lots of spell and magic fixes, so lots of the ''great'' spells the players are obsessed with are not so ''great''.

In the setting I divide spells up by how rare they are and how well they are know to each race. So the PC's can have a hard time finding spells in the game.

And to top it all off, I have lots of house rules....many of them secret....that change the game.

If you want mysterious magic, why play D&D? In 3.5 magic is much more science than art, it follows rules that can be determined with experimention

SiuiS
2014-11-16, 01:33 PM
How is asking people to take their shoes off in the foyer an 'annoyance-based mechanic'?

You've developed tunnel vision friend. The point was that your example was a bad example, the shoe example was more relevant, and thus the issue you are debating is not in fact an annoyance-based mechanic.

JediPotter does not have annoyance based mechanics. JediPotter does have a "**** it, whatever" attitude in forum discussion wherein they give only the end result in a terse manner that makes it seem that way, but the basic chassis of the houserules involved in magic are sound. It's not science, it's not guaranteed, it can backfire. Players know this. If they pick a wizard anyway, they know what they're getting into.

If a player does not feel out the environment, makes blind choices and then demands that the game play straight RAW for him even though the table has been openly RAI and homebrew since it started, that player is the problem, not the homebrew.


If you want mysterious magic, why play D&D? In 3.5 magic is much more science than art, it follows rules that can be determined with experimention

And that can be changed. Easily, in fact.

Why use D&D? Because it's a well known, easy to find and simple to run system with a universal mechanic that fantastically models swords and sorcery and only falls apart when you get into the IP proofing arms race. Because is been a game that's been openly house-rule capable and hackable for decades and that doesn't stop now just because people think RAW matters more than everything. Because the game has always been about the rules as used by the DM to shape their game, not the rules as presented by an impartial officiator who doesn't influence anything.

veti
2014-11-16, 02:49 PM
I agree with the OP's premise, although as several people have mentioned, I think they might be better off playing a different game entirely. (Hackmaster perhaps.)


Magic Control Suggestions:

Just because you level-up, doesn't mean you instantly learn new spells.
Leveling up only means you are capable of learning new spells.
Spells are learned either by buying them to study and master over time, learning from a tutor, and/or as a quest reward.
Casters are few and far between in terms of a caster / population ratio.
Remove material components and xp costs, the rarity and aforementioned limitations will make getting the spells that have those requirements all the harder to obtain anyways.
Make players invent their own magic words for each spell. If they're going to role-play a caster, then make them actually role-play a caster.
Magic items cannot be bought from a store. Quest-rewards only.
Enchanted weapons and armor are super rare and generally quest-linked.
Wizards, Sorcerers, Clerics, and Druids are NPC classes only.
Rangers don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Monks don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Bards don't usually have spells. 10% chance of having them.
Paladins are rare as can be. 5% chance of existing.


1, 2, 3 - No problem with this. AD&D magic-users laboured under these sorts of rules, and it was one of the things that helped to keep them from dominating the game the way they do in 3.x.
4 - Ye-es, OK, but what does that actually mean? You can't find a cleric in every town? Casters are regarded with awe and suspicion? It's a setting thing, not by itself a rule change.
5 - No. "Harder to obtain" doesn't address the basic balance issue with those spells - it just means that when they are obtained (or researched), the caster can use them without limit, and they'll be unstoppable.
6 - This is just silly. Do you make players mime sword-fighting, shield blocking and lockpicking?
7 - This is another setting change, but it follows naturally from 4. anyway. If magic items are rare, there simply won't be enough of them - or enough people who can afford to buy them - to support such a thing as Ye Olde Magick Shoppe.
8 - See 7.
9 - Fine, it's always up to you what classes you allow for PCs. But rather than listing them, just say "no primary caster classes", otherwise you'll be extending the list every time some idiot brings in a new supplement.
10, 11, 12 - "Percentage chance of these classes getting spells" - this is a really bad solution because, again, it doesn't address the balance issue. It just means that every so often - for no good reason - you'll get a super-powered character. (And all others will be nerfed.)
13 - What do you mean, "5% chance of existing"? Is the DM supposed to roll at setting creation time, or what? I'm all for super-rare paladins, but my solution is to make them a prestige class available by invitation only, and with a limited number of places available in each order. (A low limited number. Charlemagne, whose empire spread from the Pyrenees to Poland, had a total of 12 paladins, and I think that's a bit on the generous side myself.)

NichG
2014-11-16, 04:21 PM
You've developed tunnel vision friend. The point was that your example was a bad example, the shoe example was more relevant, and thus the issue you are debating is not in fact an annoyance-based mechanic.

Nah, I'm just not interested in getting into the whole morass of 'anti-Jedipotter because it's Jedipotter thread' style of discussion. There was a specific comment Jedipotter made about Grod's Law, and that specifically is all I'm debating here. Jedipotter stated that she believes that Grod's Law is wrong and that annoyance-based mechanics are okay. That is the point of contention, not whether or not Jedipotter is a good DM or whether houserules are categorically good or bad or anything else of that sort. I'm going to take Jedipotter's statement at face value and debate that point and try to keep on that topic, because even if she does not in actuality use annoyance-based mechanics in her game, she has made an assertion about them and that statement, not the person behind it or their habits or GMing record or likes or dislikes or whatever, is the subject of debate.

It may well be that the confusion is that she thinks certain house rules from her game would be classed as 'annoyance-based' because people on the forum have expressed annoyance at those house rules in the past. In which case, the fastest way towards consensus is to clarify what 'annoyance-based' actually does or does not mean.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-16, 04:23 PM
This tells me that you aren't getting the meaning of the term 'annoyance-based' mechanic, and that's probably the source of our miscommunication.

Let's be crystal clear about that first before moving forward. A mechanic can produce an annoyance or inconvenience for a player, but that doesn't make it annoyance-based. What makes a mechanic annoyance-based is when the intended purpose of the mechanic to incentivize/deincentivize something is achieved through making the player uncomfortable or annoyed, rather than through changing the in-game factors.

Again, you're assigning the value judgement that the modification is intended to annoy the player. You keep saying it doesn't change in game factors, but changing from at "you have this all the time" to "you may not have this when you need it most" is absolutely changing in game factors.



- 'Casters must pay half their WBL in dues to the Wizard Guild' is perhaps annoying to some people, but it isn't annoyance-based. There is a direct mechanical consequence of that rule, which is that casters have less wealth than other characters.

It also means casters a penalized for being casters. If making them do a bit of book keeping is an annoyance based mechanic how is literally charging them extra gold (and therefore, at least in 3.x, actively hampering their effectiveness and advancement) not an annoyance based mechanic? I know I'd be damned annoyed if as a fighter I had to pay 10 GP per sword swing.



- 'Casters must individually record each material component and must announce its purchase at the table to the DM.' on the other hand is annoyance-based, because as stated it has no actual in-game direct mechanical consequences, but it makes playing a caster far more tedious.

This is absurd. Is it equally an annoyance based mechanic when you require your ranger to track their ammunition for their bow? Is it an annoyance based mechanic when you require the party to track their torches and rations? Look I get that book keeping can be annoying and I get that some people don't want to do any book keeping in their game and that's fine. But to say that book keeping is an annoyance based mechanic and doesn't have actual in game consequences is patently absurd.



One test for whether something is annoyance-based is to ask what happens if you take a PC operating under this rule and turn them into an NPC. If the majority of the effect of the rule was because there was a player behind that character, then it might be annoyance-based.


Since NPC should not operate under the same rules as PCs, this is a bad test.



So you might say; "That's with a bad DM (true). I'd never screw up like that (maybe true)". But I'm just going to say "Rather than have you screw with rules and trust you not to mess up too badly; how about you don't screw with rules in the first place and let us make our own decisions".

You know. Like mature adults.

I'm not sure where anyone has suggested you aren't allowed to make your own decisions.



The problem with some of these suggested rules to lessen people's use of magic is that they have the structure of the latter, not the former. They don't say 'you can't do this' or even 'please do this less' or 'we've added a cost so that the balance point is shifted and you have to be more careful with your resources'. They say 'you can do it just as much as before, but there's a totally unrelated annoyance that we're going to inflict on the player to try to discourage it'. That is what is being objected to, not the fact that it happens to be a house rule.

Except you explicitly can't do it as much as before. By implementing and requiring resource tracking for spell casting, you immediately are unable to cast as often and as much as before because you can't be guaranteed to have the resources you need to cast a spell. Just because a component is "free" doesn't mean you can always come by it. For example, if you're in the middle of a dessert and your spell has a water component, where are you going to get it from? Will you use party resources? Are there plants locally that you might be able to get water from? Water is free, doesn't mean it's around. Same with bat guano. Sure it's free, but when you're 10 levels deep in a dungeon and haven't seen a bat since level 1, you're not going to just sling fireballs willy nilly if doing so means running out of the component necessary for fireball.

Sartharina
2014-11-16, 04:47 PM
It also means casters a penalized for being casters. If making them do a bit of book keeping is an annoyance based mechanic how is literally charging them extra gold (and therefore, at least in 3.x, actively hampering their effectiveness and advancement) not an annoyance based mechanic? I know I'd be damned annoyed if as a fighter I had to pay 10 GP per sword swing.That's because a sword swing isn't worth 10 GP. But, if a fighter needs 10k GP of Magic Stuff to reach his output-by-level, yet a Wizard only needs 5k GP of stuff to reach his expected output-by-level, then halving the WBL of the Wizard works, as a tradeoff for the caster's greater power.

runeghost
2014-11-16, 04:53 PM
D&D: The Problem With Magic

As a dungeon master, I very much dislike how saturated D&D is with magic. I personally like stories where magic is scarce but when it appears it is highly significant. My favorite example is J.R.R. Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings where there are five wizards in the entire world, two of which never even appear in the story. In this story, magic is special, it is rare, and so whenever it does appear, it has that much more of an impact on the reader and anyone engrossed in the story. It enhances things and makes the world more fantastical. The rarity of magic accents the story, it isn't the crutch of it.

I understand where you're coming from. I dislike the 'mechanistic' feel D&D seems to push towards magic sometimes myself. But I'm not sure that Lord of the Rings is as good an example as you think it is. Tolkien made is magic an organic part of the story, and depicted it as art (or sub-creative ability) rather than anything like modern games tend to do. But there was still an awful lot of it.

The Fellowship, for example, are loaded up to the edges of Monty-Haul-dom with potent magical loot:

When he leaves Rivendel, Gandalf has: a Staff of Power, Glamdring - the personal sword of the Last King of Gondolin (+3 at least, it causes orcs to make morale checks when they see it), AND the one and only Ring of Fire, one of the most powerful magical items in existence, behind only Vilya and the One. (Oh yeah, the One is in the party, too!) Plus he's got a virtual jug of potion of healing - enough to give the whole party multiple doses.

Now move on to Frodo who has, upon leaving Lothlorien: the One Ring, aka. the most potent magical item in the campaign world. A suit of mithril mail "worth a king's ransom" (+3 at a minimum, arguably +5). Sting, another sword from ancient Gondolin, likely not quite as potent as Glamdring, but particularly potent vs. evil creatures. The Phial of Galadriel - a high-powered magic item. In additions to its nifty "continual light" function, it bursts through magical wards and makes evil creatures (even those of great power) flee and/or suffer considerable penalties. Also apparently grants the power to speak, but not understand, Quenya.

Aragorn makes out like a bandit. (Maybe he's friends with the GM? :smallbiggrin:) He gets Anduril - the reforged sword that *killed* the Big Bad's last physical incarnation. (+5 *at least*). He also gets a nifty magic sheath for Anduril. One that apparently grants immunity to item saving throws to the sword drawn from it. Then there's the Elfstone - basically aRing of Power, without the drawbacks, arguably the "best" magic item in the whole campaign world. And, because he's not carrying enough loot yet, he also has the Ring of Barahir - thousands of years old, originally owned by King Finrod Felagun of Nargothrond in the First Age. Once coveted by Morgoth himself, this is arguably the oldest magic item in the campaign world. Oh, by the end of the game, he's gotten not one, but *two* crystal balls (though one of them is borked).

Sam, Merry, and Pippin get magic daggers all around, with extra bonuses vs. undead. Pippin also ends up getting a mithril helm. Sam's Gift is basically a 9th level spell (maybe even epic) in a box - just because its not useful in combat doesn't make it less magical or potent. Along with that, Sam also gets a Rope of Climbing - don't know what else to label elf-rope that burns evil, is unnaturally tough, and unties itself when you want it to but not before...

Legolas has the Bow of Lothlorien (with matching arrows) - (exact bonus arguable, but I'd say at least +3, possibly with some other enchantments. Legolas wasn't shooting Nazgul out of the sky before he got it, that's for sure.)

The rest of the party is a little lighter in the obvious magic department, but don't forget that everyone is packing Cloaks of Elvenkind, and a ton of magic rations that take up virtually no encumberance. (And magic boats too.)


And as for casters, here's a short list of characters we see using magic on the pages of LotR: Gandalf, the Nazgul, the Barrow-wight, Tom Bombadil, Aragon, Glorfindel, Elrond, the Balrog, Galadriel, Frodo, Denethor, the Lord of the Nazgul, Saruman, Sauron, and Celeborn. And the Mouth of Sauron is explicitly described by Tolkien as a sorcerer in Return of the King.

Again, it's not that Middle-Earth doesn't have magic - it has loads of it. But it is presented and fells very differently from the "Vancian" extremely mechanical and tactical magic that D&D often focuses on.

(Sorry for going on so long, but "there's not much magic in LotR" is a pet peeve of mine, so I've spent a lot of time thinking and talking about this particular point. As you can probably tell. :smallwink:)

Knaight
2014-11-16, 05:51 PM
Wait..wait..wait....see the population of Waterdeep is 120,000. The numbers are just the people that bought lotto tickets. But people don't know about probability....they just want things to ''look fair''.

The relevant population is 685, as the word population applies just as well to subsets and the obvious subset is ticket buyers. As for people not knowing about probability, I don't buy it. Everyone playing D&D is playing a mechanically intensive game with a bunch of dice, some level of probability knowledge (at least at an intuitive level) follows. Plus, it's not like the math behind that particular case was hard - that's 6th grade probability math, not anything advanced.

jedipotter
2014-11-16, 07:06 PM
Jedipotter stated that she believes that Grod's Law is wrong and that annoyance-based mechanics are okay. That is the point of contention, not whether or not Jedipotter is a good DM or whether houserules are categorically good or bad or anything else of that sort. I'm going to take Jedipotter's statement at face value and debate that point and try to keep on that topic, because even if she does not in actuality use annoyance-based mechanics in her game, she has made an assertion about them and that statement, not the person behind it or their habits or GMing record or likes or dislikes or whatever, is the subject of debate.


I would not call any of my house rules for magic, like using material components, annoyance-based mechanics. I'm not setting out to annoy any one.

I'm setting out to:

1. Stop problems before they even start. Plenty of players that would make problems in the game if they played a spellcasting character take one glance at the material components houserules and either make a mundane character or don't play in the game at all.

2. Limit spellcasters power. A spellcaster can't just pick any spell they want, they need to pick spells with an eye on the material components. And the component limit effects spells per day, but also scrolls and other magic items.

3. It helps ground the game. A spellcaster has to be aware of where they are and what components are available. This gets players to pay attention to the setting more. They don't just adventure ''from place A to B'', they know the places in detail.

4. It helps make spellcasters more dependent on the rest of the group. After low levels, there is not much point in a spellcaster staying with a group...going by-the-book rules. The spellcaster has so much power at the wiggle of a finger that others just get in the way. For example in a by-the-book game a wizard can cast Sequester any time they would like. Under my rules, they are going to need the groups help to track down, find and kill a basilisk. And this goes double if it's a spell cast to further the groups goals.

5. It adds to the flavor. Spellcasters don't just ''cast' spells like a cheep video game that goes 'pew pew', they are characters tapping magical force and shaping spells. By-the -book you just ''cast the spell'', not too exciting. Under my rules it much more flavor as the spellcasters use the components.

6. It adds role play. A spellcaster can find, get and even take material components..assuming they can role play for a couple minutes. When the group get to town and all Zorn the wizard wants to do is ''go to a tavern and get into a bar fight'' then he gets nothing other then wasting his time. But when Alva the wizard visits the local hedge wizard she makes a contact that maybe useful in the future.


Now it's true, a lot of the above are targeted at a very specific type of player...and that is intentional.

Arbane
2014-11-16, 07:17 PM
Since NPC should not operate under the same rules as PCs, this is a bad test.


Why shouldn't they?

chaos_redefined
2014-11-16, 07:26 PM
I would not call any of my house rules for magic, like using material components, annoyance-based mechanics. I'm not setting out to annoy any one.

I'm setting out to:

1. Stop problems before they even start. Plenty of players that would make problems in the game if they played a spellcasting character take one glance at the material components houserules and either make a mundane character or don't play in the game at all.

How do you know they would make problems? How do you know that plenty of players who would not make problems in the game end up not playing the game because of your houserule? This is hard to determine at best.

And... the reason they make a mundane character is because your houserule makes it annoying to play a spellcaster. So... This doesn't change the facts.


2. Limit spellcasters power. A spellcaster can't just pick any spell they want, they need to pick spells with an eye on the material components. And the component limit effects spells per day, but also scrolls and other magic items.

If this is the case, then your world is unrealistic. If there is a powerful spell with an exotic material component, then it is in someone's interest to acquire them, just to profit from wizards who want it. Charging 1 gold piece per component is gonna make them rich. If there is a powerful spell with a common material component, then it is still in someone's interest to collect and sell, just because wizards would prefer to buy in bulk than go out and acquire 10000 pieces of bat guano. (Even though fireball isn't exactly a powerful spell).


3. It helps ground the game. A spellcaster has to be aware of where they are and what components are available. This gets players to pay attention to the setting more. They don't just adventure ''from place A to B'', they know the places in detail.

There are two problems with this. First, it means your world is unrealistic. Take my point above, and tack in teleportation effects, crystal balls for communication, etc... A wealthy merchant is born.

The second is that a good DM can make the setting valuable. I don't need material components to be relevant to know what country I'm in.


4. It helps make spellcasters more dependent on the rest of the group. After low levels, there is not much point in a spellcaster staying with a group...going by-the-book rules. The spellcaster has so much power at the wiggle of a finger that others just get in the way. For example in a by-the-book game a wizard can cast Sequester any time they would like. Under my rules, they are going to need the groups help to track down, find and kill a basilisk. And this goes double if it's a spell cast to further the groups goals.

Even if we ignore all the other problems with this... a spellcaster has plenty of reason to stick around with the others. They are his friends.


5. It adds to the flavor. Spellcasters don't just ''cast' spells like a cheep video game that goes 'pew pew', they are characters tapping magical force and shaping spells. By-the -book you just ''cast the spell'', not too exciting. Under my rules it much more flavor as the spellcasters use the components.

Under your rules, you just "cast the spell", and cross off a material component.


6. It adds role play. A spellcaster can find, get and even take material components..assuming they can role play for a couple minutes. When the group get to town and all Zorn the wizard wants to do is ''go to a tavern and get into a bar fight'' then he gets nothing other then wasting his time. But when Alva the wizard visits the local hedge wizard she makes a contact that maybe useful in the future.

Because when Zorn goes to a tavern and gets into a bar fight, he can't possibly meet anyone there. He definitely can't make friends with someone else in the bar. That would be insane.


Now it's true, a lot of the above are targeted at a very specific type of player...and that is intentional.

Back to the Grod's Law aspect... The aim of this is to intentionally annoy that specific type of player, correct? Now, let's reverse things a bit. Let's say I was running a game with a bunch of house rules that encouraged people to play in a way that you don't enjoy by annoying people who played in your style. But your significant other enjoys the game and you don't feel comfortable leaving. Would you prefer I push you to enjoy the game my way, or that we try to accommodate both styles of play? That is where the problem arises.

Your style is built around the viewpoint that your way of playing is right, and all others are badwrongfun. And that is one of the worst things a gamer can do as far as I'm concerned: Tell others they are having badwrongfun. I would prefer cheaters and rules lawyers over badwrongfunners. (I am serious. I have played with all 3, and the badwrongfun guy is the worst of the lot.)

1337 b4k4
2014-11-16, 08:34 PM
Why shouldn't they?

Because they serve different purposes.

jedipotter
2014-11-16, 09:49 PM
How do you know they would make problems? How do you know that plenty of players who would not make problems in the game end up not playing the game because of your houserule? This is hard to determine at best.

And... the reason they make a mundane character is because your houserule makes it annoying to play a spellcaster. So... This doesn't change the facts.

People are easy to read, if you know how. There are things you can look for and plan ahead for and stop before they even happen.

It's exact like the no cell phone rule. During a game a cell phone is a distraction. And people will disrupt the game using their cell phones. So you just make the blanket 'no cell phones' rule....and it fixes everything.




If this is the case, then your world is unrealistic. If there is a powerful spell with an exotic material component, then it is in someone's interest to acquire them, just to profit from wizards who want it. Charging 1 gold piece per component is gonna make them rich. If there is a powerful spell with a common material component, then it is still in someone's interest to collect and sell, just because wizards would prefer to buy in bulk than go out and acquire 10000 pieces of bat guano. (Even though fireball isn't exactly a powerful spell).

Yes, my game world with magic and dragons is ''unrealistic''......good call.

And sure there is a material component economy, but that does not mean there is a magic mart on every street corner with a huge selection.




There are two problems with this. First, it means your world is unrealistic. Take my point above, and tack in teleportation effects, crystal balls for communication, etc... A wealthy merchant is born.

The second is that a good DM can make the setting valuable. I don't need material components to be relevant to know what country I'm in.

Yea, again my fantasy world is ''unrealistic''....amazing call.

I don't really get why you assume a merchant mega magic mart empire must exist. Would you say it must exist even in a by-the-book world?



Even if we ignore all the other problems with this... a spellcaster has plenty of reason to stick around with the others. They are his friends

Of course that really only applies to good people and people that like having friends and value friendship.




Under your rules, you just "cast the spell", and cross off a material component.

And you can.




Because when Zorn goes to a tavern and gets into a bar fight, he can't possibly meet anyone there. He definitely can't make friends with someone else in the bar. That would be insane.

Zorn will meet plenty of adolescent drunk looser, just like himself, at the bar. He won't meet Samon the founder of magic mart, who despite being rich is just hanging out at the low life bar that lets in people like Zorn, and who just happens to have lots of components to sell.





Back to the Grod's Law aspect... The aim of this is to intentionally annoy that specific type of player, correct? Now, let's reverse things a bit. Let's say I was running a game with a bunch of house rules that encouraged people to play in a way that you don't enjoy by annoying people who played in your style. But your significant other enjoys the game and you don't feel comfortable leaving. Would you prefer I push you to enjoy the game my way, or that we try to accommodate both styles of play? That is where the problem arises.

Well you say ''annoy'', I say ''stop'' and ''control'' and ''drive away''.

Well, I would sure not expect you to change everything just for me. But I would be more then happy to take advantage of your offer and have you change your whole game, just for me.

And, for the rest of it......well, I'm not like everyone else. First, I would never, ever somehow end up over someone I did not know house and expect to play a game like D&D. Not going to happen. Even if my other says the DM walks on water, I'd still want to meet him first and look over his style and house rules.

And I can also...amazingly...let my other just do whatever she wishes to do...without me. I'd just be all like ''have fun honey at your game, see you later.''

But say I feel asleep and ended up at the game house.....well if the game style was not too bad, I could just sit back and play on auto pilot. But if the DM was like all ''everyone gets 1000 hit points and must go 'pew pew' when they attack''....then yea, I'd go wait in the car.




Your style is built around the viewpoint that your way of playing is right, and all others are badwrongfun. And that is one of the worst things a gamer can do as far as I'm concerned: Tell others they are having badwrongfun. I would prefer cheaters and rules lawyers over badwrongfunners. (I am serious. I have played with all 3, and the badwrongfun guy is the worst of the lot.)

Except I'm not telling anyone they are wrong?

Here is my game, my house rules and style. If you want to play in my game, this is the way it is....take it or leave it.

But if someone somewhere else wants to run a game, then they can do whatever they want too. I don't care. Across the frozen snow covered ground nearby DM Dave is running another one of his Alphabet Dungeons(it's a dungeon with 26 rooms, and one type of monster for each letter in each room....awesome, Iknow). The game has been going on a couple hours, they might be in room ''O'' by now....maybe fighting some ogres...and they are all having fun. I don't think very highly of Dave's game at all, but it's not like I tell him is game is ''badwrongfun''. I would never play in a game with him as DM, but I do help him find/create new monsters (especially for letters I, O, Q, U, V, X, and Z).

NichG
2014-11-16, 10:13 PM
Again, you're assigning the value judgement that the modification is intended to annoy the player. You keep saying it doesn't change in game factors, but changing from at "you have this all the time" to "you may not have this when you need it most" is absolutely changing in game factors.

It also means casters a penalized for being casters. If making them do a bit of book keeping is an annoyance based mechanic how is literally charging them extra gold (and therefore, at least in 3.x, actively hampering their effectiveness and advancement) not an annoyance based mechanic? I know I'd be damned annoyed if as a fighter I had to pay 10 GP per sword swing.

This is absurd. Is it equally an annoyance based mechanic when you require your ranger to track their ammunition for their bow? Is it an annoyance based mechanic when you require the party to track their torches and rations? Look I get that book keeping can be annoying and I get that some people don't want to do any book keeping in their game and that's fine. But to say that book keeping is an annoyance based mechanic and doesn't have actual in game consequences is patently absurd.


This is where the based part of annoyance-based comes in.

When the DM institutes a new rule, they are acting as a game designer. As a game designer, the DM has some purpose or reason for which they are creating that rule. That means that they have should have some idea or rationale about how adding the rule creates a change in the game or behavior of the players that they wish to achieve.

- A rule or mechanic is annoyance-based if the reasoning behind the rule is to create a change in behavior as a result of annoying the players.

- A rule or mechanic is not necessarily annoyance-based just because a particular player finds it annoying, or unfair, or silly, or any other particular complaint about the rule. It may not be a good rule for other reasons, but its besides the point.

So, are you trying to reduce the number of casters in the world? Okay, great. Are you making changes that may have the side-effect of making some people annoyed? Not necessarily a problem, though obviously be careful. Are you trying to do it by, as in through the mechanism of making it annoying to play casters correctly? Then that's bad design.


I would not call any of my house rules for magic, like using material components, annoyance-based mechanics. I'm not setting out to annoy any one.

I'm setting out to:

1. Stop problems before they even start. Plenty of players that would make problems in the game if they played a spellcasting character take one glance at the material components houserules and either make a mundane character or don't play in the game at all.

This is explicitly an example of annoyance-based mechanics. You're trying to annoy a specific type of player in order to change their behavior or 'out' them.

The rest of the list are not annoyance-based.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-16, 10:25 PM
This is where the based part of annoyance-based comes in.

When the DM institutes a new rule, they are acting as a game designer. As a game designer, the DM has some purpose or reason for which they are creating that rule. That means that they have should have some idea or rationale about how adding the rule creates a change in the game or behavior of the players that they wish to achieve.

- A rule or mechanic is annoyance-based if the reasoning behind the rule is to create a change in behavior as a result of annoying the players.

And again, you are assuming the purpose of the resource tracking rule is to annoy the player or that it's primary mechanism is player annoyance. That has not been proven, especially when there are plenty of other items and mechanics in the same game that require resource tracking. Why is this particular resource tracking mechanic "annoyance-based" while requiring your ranger to track ammo and the party to track food and torches, and the fighter to track healing potions, and the barbarian the number of times they've raged today not?

Prince Raven
2014-11-16, 10:39 PM
And again, you are assuming the purpose of the resource tracking rule is to annoy the player or that it's primary mechanism is player annoyance. That has not been proven...

I seem to remember jedipotter stating that the whole point of the rule was to discourage the sort of players that would find the resource tracking annoying from playing casters.


Why is this particular resource tracking mechanic "annoyance-based" while requiring your ranger to track ammo and the party to track food and torches, and the fighter to track healing potions, and the barbarian the number of times they've raged today not?

I get the feeling tracking every individual material component for every spell you know (particularly if you're a wizard) requires a bit more book-keeping than food, torches, ammo, potions and class features per day. Especially since the caster also has to track those things as well.

NichG
2014-11-16, 11:52 PM
And again, you are assuming the purpose of the resource tracking rule is to annoy the player or that it's primary mechanism is player annoyance. That has not been proven, especially when there are plenty of other items and mechanics in the same game that require resource tracking. Why is this particular resource tracking mechanic "annoyance-based" while requiring your ranger to track ammo and the party to track food and torches, and the fighter to track healing potions, and the barbarian the number of times they've raged today not?

You have to be honest with yourself as a game designer and ask 'what do I want to achieve' and 'how does this rule achieve it?'. That's why I've been saying 'how about this rule instead?' when talking about this - it's a test to evaluate what posters actually want the rule to do. If I propose a rule that does what they say they want but with less annoyance and they reject it, that's an indication that their actual train of thought in the design hasn't been made clear yet.

If you tell me what making the ranger track their ammo is supposed to do, then I can tell you whether or not you're approaching the game design problem with an annoyance-based mechanic by introducing it. If you want the ranger to track ammo because, e.g., you're running a survival horror game where there's a very limited overall pool of ammo then the situation is different than if you want the ranger to track ammo because you want to make the players really lust after that infinite quiver magic item you're going to introduce later on.

Even if it's the same rule, the former case is not annoyance-based whereas the latter is - because the thing you're trying to achieve is different in the two cases.

In this thread, the purpose has been given (creating a functional, low-magic game). Therefore we don't have to assume or guess anything - it's given to us by the design problem posed to us in this thread.

jedipotter
2014-11-17, 02:33 AM
This is explicitly an example of annoyance-based mechanics. You're trying to annoy a specific type of player in order to change their behavior or 'out' them.

The rest of the list are not annoyance-based.

Annoyance just is not the right word. I don't care about annoying people. I start at pure offense. I don't waste time with passive aggressive, I go right to overt aggressive.

And remember the mechanic has plenty of ways around it, for example a player can pick spells with no material components. Or easy to find ones.

Are the encumbrance rules an annoying mechanic? How about power points? Alignment? Hit points?

chaos_redefined
2014-11-17, 06:40 AM
Are the encumbrance rules an annoying mechanic? How about power points? Alignment? Hit points?

Encumbrance? Yes. Alignment? Yes. (Mostly due to poor design. The concepts were to add realism.)

However, they weren't added to the system with the intent of annoying a particular type of player. They were added with the intent of making the game more simulationist.

(And the number of arguments that alignment can cause, especially when Lawful and Chaotic aren't entirely mutually exclusive, make it annoying).

TheCountAlucard
2014-11-17, 08:31 AM
And as for casters, here's a short list of characters we see using magic on the pages of LotR: Gandalf, the Nazgul, the Barrow-wight, Tom Bombadil, Aragon, Glorfindel, Elrond, the Balrog, Galadriel, Frodo, Denethor, the Lord of the Nazgul, Saruman, Sauron, and Celeborn. And the Mouth of Sauron is explicitly described by Tolkien as a sorcerer in Return of the King.Does using a magic item count? If so, then you forgot Bilbo.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-17, 09:37 AM
You have to be honest with yourself as a game designer and ask 'what do I want to achieve' and 'how does this rule achieve it?'. That's why I've been saying 'how about this rule instead?' when talking about this - it's a test to evaluate what posters actually want the rule to do. If I propose a rule that does what they say they want but with less annoyance and they reject it, that's an indication that their actual train of thought in the design hasn't been made clear yet.

Except so far you haven't suggested a rule that does the same thing but with less annoyance, so you are unable to evaluate whether they're including the rule simply for its annoyance factor as opposed to it's actual mechanical effects on the game. Your post hoc magic tax doesn't generate the same thought process, plot hooks and choice weighing that a priori resource management does.

NichG
2014-11-17, 10:10 AM
Except so far you haven't suggested a rule that does the same thing but with less annoyance, so you are unable to evaluate whether they're including the rule simply for its annoyance factor as opposed to it's actual mechanical effects on the game. Your post hoc magic tax doesn't generate the same thought process, plot hooks and choice weighing that a priori resource management does.

I don't know why in particular you're so defensive about the material component tracking thing, but you seem to want to make this about 'he's calling me a bad DM!' rather than talking about the abstract game design problem of creating low-magic D&D. I don't really care about your particular goals for rules you use in your campaign, because what you do in your campaign doesn't really matter to me, or really anyone who isn't one of your players. It really isn't relevant if you're 'a good DM' or 'a bad DM' or whatever.

What I care about discussing is the game design principles which we're using to try to answer the OP's question in a way that will be most useful for them. So if you really want to evoke a particular thought process and you have a roundabout reason why the only possible rule to do that is this particular material components tracking rule, good for you! But it isn't really relevant to the rest of us, who have no particular reason to have that solitary and specific goal for creating a rule.

The discussion doesn't start from the rule, it starts from the reason behind the rule.

The OP requested help in making a functional low-magic D&D ruleset, which means that they need a way to make casters rarer otherwise they're going to run afoul of the 'removing magic items but leaving casters alone just nerfs the mundanes' problem. That is the stated goal by which proposed rules must be judged, not things like 'generating the same thought process as rule X which I personally happen to use at my table and feel like defending'.

chaos_redefined
2014-11-17, 10:17 AM
I kinda feel bad for saying this... but you could go with 4e. There was a class that used a bow that acted as a controller (can't remember what it was called, never played it and haven't looked at it in years). I assume more stuff has happened since. There exists mundane characters for the other roles (Striker, Defender and Leader), using martial classes. Sounds like you could pull off low magic with that.

As for items, give them static bonuses to make up for the lack, and it should be fine, from what I heard.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-17, 11:28 AM
I don't know why in particular you're so defensive about the material component tracking thing, but you seem to want to make this about 'he's calling me a bad DM!' rather than talking about the abstract game design problem of creating low-magic D&D. I don't really care about your particular goals for rules you use in your campaign, because what you do in your campaign doesn't really matter to me, or really anyone who isn't one of your players. It really isn't relevant if you're 'a good DM' or 'a bad DM' or whatever.

When you use loaded terms like annoyance-based mechanic and you describe the intention of the rule as "annoying the player" rather than in it's mechanical effects and intent, you should not be surprised when people react as if you are making a value judgment against them. To paraphrase you: "The hostility is created by taking an antagonistic stance to begin. Its not intrinsic to the player discussion."


So if you really want to evoke a particular thought process and you have a roundabout reason why the only possible rule to do that is this particular material components tracking rule, good for you! But it isn't really relevant to the rest of us, who have no particular reason to have that solitary and specific goal for creating a rule.

I don't actually think it's either necessary or the only way to create an overall low / limited magic experience. I do however think it is a way to contribute to that experience, think that it's a valuable tool if used appropriately. What I object to it being dismissed as an "annoyance-based" mechanic or a bad mechanic because you are assuming it's purpose is to annoy.


That is the stated goal by which proposed rules must be judged, not things like 'generating the same thought process as rule X which I personally happen to use at my table and feel like defending'.

I don't actually use that rule at my tables except when I'm playing games for which that rule is relevant (early D&D for example). But I strongly object to what is a common occurrence in these discussions where some rule which has been or can be used poorly by certain DMs becomes a "bad rule".

Prince Raven
2014-11-17, 12:27 PM
When you use loaded terms like annoyance-based mechanic and you describe the intention of the rule as "annoying the player" rather than in it's mechanical effects and intent, you should not be surprised when people react as if you are making a value judgment against them. To paraphrase you: "The hostility is created by taking an antagonistic stance to begin. Its not intrinsic to the player discussion."

Why not call it an annoyance-based rule when even jedipotter admits that the purpose of the rule is to annoy players into avoiding playing casters?


1. the vast majority of problem players do not like to be annoyed. They will avoid annoying rules, even house rules, they don't like. Or just leave the game, so it's win win.

Interestingly, they don't seem too concerned about all those who aren't "problem players" but still don't like dealing with annoying rules.

NichG
2014-11-17, 12:41 PM
When you use loaded terms like annoyance-based mechanic and you describe the intention of the rule as "annoying the player" rather than in it's mechanical effects and intent, you should not be surprised when people react as if you are making a value judgment against them. To paraphrase you: "The hostility is created by taking an antagonistic stance to begin. Its not intrinsic to the player discussion."

If anything's surprising to me with this, it's that anyone is willing to leap forward and actually defend the idea that it's okay to have a rule whose intention is "annoying the player". That strikes me as intentionally putting yourself in the judgement seat.

I mean, if we were discussing why its a bad idea to have a rule where when the player's character dies in the game, they get a life-threatening electric shock in real life, it should really be an obvious point. There shouldn't have to be a debate about whether that's actually a bad idea or not, with people jumping in and saying 'I do that in my campaigns so you're attacking me, now I'm going to get all self-righteous about it!'. It should be an immediate reminder of 'yeah, actually, that is a bad idea'.

This annoyance-based mechanic discussion is kind of like that. The idea that it's bad to design a mechanic specifically with the intent to make your players unhappy should be a no-brainer. The fact that it isn't being treated as such, and in fact that you and Jedipotter are rushing to shoehorn rulings you've made that aren't even like that into that mold in order to make the debate personal is, IMO, ridiculous.

If you want to argue that material component tracking achieves the low-magic desired result without actually being taken to the level of being annoyance-based, then that could perhaps be a coherent position. But instead you and Jedipotter are trying to argue something that is pretty much untenable by associating it - incorrectly, even - with matters of your own personal taste, so that in order to attack your position people would have to simultaneously attack you.

So, please clean up your debate tactics.



I don't actually think it's either necessary or the only way to create an overall low / limited magic experience. I do however think it is a way to contribute to that experience, think that it's a valuable tool if used appropriately. What I object to it being dismissed as an "annoyance-based" mechanic or a bad mechanic because you are assuming it's purpose is to annoy.

I don't actually use that rule at my tables except when I'm playing games for which that rule is relevant (early D&D for example). But I strongly object to what is a common occurrence in these discussions where some rule which has been or can be used poorly by certain DMs becomes a "bad rule".

Explain to me the logic of introducing material-component tracking in order to achieve a low-magic experience. Then I can tell you whether that design methodology is annoyance-based or not. Game design flows from purpose, not rules as static objects. But it's not purely subjective either. This isn't something where 'everything is just as good as everything else'. However, it only becomes objective once you've stated a goal/goals. Once you've done that, then you can objectively analyze how well a given rule achieves those particular goals.

'Tracking material components' is just a rule. On its own, you can't say anything about it. But add a goal and a rationale, and then you can objectively discuss its suitability for that. If you're using it because the primary task which the game tests is a player's resource management ability, and you make other design decisions which are consistent with that premise (e.g. make material components relatively heavy, perishable, and/or expensive), then it may well be a great rule for what you're trying to do!

If you're using it in order to add out-of-game book-keeping overhead that some players will dislike strongly enough to decide to not play casters, then it's a bad rule for that goal, for reasons which have been stated already. Namely: it won't work consistently, it creates a feeling of a hostile environment if players reason it out, and it incentivizes 'go big or go home' with the result of actually achieving the opposite of what you've proposed the rule to try to accomplish.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-17, 02:29 PM
Why not call it an annoyance-based rule when even jedipotter admits that the purpose of the rule is to annoy players into avoiding playing casters?

Because I'm not Jedipotter and I'm not here to fight Jedipotter's battles. Furthermore, just because one DM uses a mechanic specifically because it annoys one type of player does not in and of itself make the mechanic an annoyance based mechanic. Were that the case, any mechanic that any DM has ever used in part or in whole because it annoyed someone is an annoyance based mechanic, and I suspect that would lead us to defining every mechanic other than a "You win" button as an annoyance mechanic, and I'm sure there's a DM that did that one time to annoy someone too.


If anything's surprising to me with this, it's that anyone is willing to leap forward and actually defend the idea that it's okay to have a rule whose intention is "annoying the player". That strikes me as intentionally putting yourself in the judgement seat.

Again, you have not proven that the intention of resource management mechanics for spell casting is specifically designed to annoy the player as opposed to accomplish some other goal. You're the one that keeps begging the question here. You keep arguing that resource tracking is an "annoyance based mechanic", when I ask you why, you say it's because the purpose of the mechanic is to annoy, when I ask you to prove that, you say it's because it's an annoyance based mechanic. You haven't yet proven that the mechanic is or was designed to annoy players. Further, you have already argued that some players finding a mechanic annoying is not sufficient reason to declare a mechanic an annoyance mechanic. It logically follows that some DMs using a mechanic because it annoys some players is also not enough to declare the mechanic an annoyance mechanic. A given DM might implement material component tracking to annoy a player, but that does not make the mechanic itself an annoyance based mechanic. You are passing a value judgment on a value neutral thing.


I mean, if we were discussing why its a bad idea to have a rule where when the player's character dies in the game, they get a life-threatening electric shock in real life, it should really be an obvious point.

I'm fairly certain requiring players to track their resources doesn't result in actual bodily harm, so I'm not sure what relevance this has to the discussion.


This annoyance-based mechanic discussion is kind of like that. The idea that it's bad to design a mechanic specifically with the intent to make your players unhappy should be a no-brainer. The fact that it isn't being treated as such, and in fact that you and Jedipotter are rushing to shoehorn rulings you've made that aren't even like that into that mold in order to make the debate personal is, IMO, ridiculous.

Again I'm not jedipotter and not here to fight jedipotter's battles. Furthermore, I agree with you that designing a mechanic specifically with the intent to make your players unhappy is a bad idea. It does not follow from this that:
A) resource tracking mechanics are or were designed with that intent in mind.
B) that they primarily annoy players
C) that using mechanics which do not make your players unhappy but which might make hypothetical potential players unhappy is a bad thing.


If you want to argue that material component tracking achieves the low-magic desired result without actually being taken to the level of being annoyance-based, then that could perhaps be a coherent position.

I'm fairly certain that's what I've been saying all along, you know that whole "you haven't proven that resource tracking mechanics are designed with the intent of annoying players" bit. You're the one broadly painting such mechanics as "annoyance based mechanics". I have repeatedly taken the position that said categorization is not possible without further information about how the mechanic is used any why any given DM or game implements the mechanic.


Explain to me the logic of introducing material-component tracking in order to achieve a low-magic experience.

By requiring tracking of material components, magical spells, in addition to having their spell slots as a precious resource (for certain values of precious) now also compete with each other for access to another resource. This requires careful consideration not only of the spells to prepare, but the spells to use, how frequently to use them and how one will go about reacquiring those resources since they don't magically reappear after a long rest. Further more, if combined with a world that does not contain a "Ye Olde Magiks Shoppe" on every corner, adds a new wrinkle in the adventuring path for a party as the party must then balance between spending their time and other party resources hunting down magical reagents and actually adventuring. Further, depending on how much a spells power and flashiness relates to the number and quantities of components, it would contribute to a low magic experience by further limiting the use of higher power or flashier spells even at the same level as other spells.


'Tracking material components' is just a rule. On its own, you can't say anything about it. But add a goal and a rationale, and then you can objectively discuss its suitability for that. If you're using it because the primary task which the game tests is a player's resource management ability, and you make other design decisions which are consistent with that premise (e.g. make material components relatively heavy, perishable, and/or expensive), then it may well be a great rule for what you're trying to do!

I'm fairly certain you just restated exactly what I've been telling you over the past 2 or 3 pages. In fact, if I may quote myself a few times:


Modifying the rules, including making a particular mechanic more difficult to use is not in and of itself hostile behavior and any player who assumes it is without evidence is an immature child.

...

Any player who assumes that a DM ruling or house rule which doesn't go in their favor or makes something more difficult is made specifically to attack them and makes this assumption without any prior evidence is an immature child and should not be played with. Period. Mature adults work out their differences with communication. The DM is responsible for communicating the rules. A player who has issue with those rules and whom does not understand the purpose of the DM's rule should then seek clarification and discussion if necessary. Becoming a passive aggressive petulant child is not acceptable behavior, even if your feelings were hurt.

...

There's no such thing as an "annoyance-based" mechanic without a person to be annoyed. For example, magic in Call of Cthulhu always comes with a price, often a very steep one that can and will end your character's life right then and there. Some people would find this annoying but it creates a world and feeling that would not be possible with say a mechanic that magic might kill you later on. Resource tracking is not and has never been an "annoyance-based" mechanic. It is a mechanic. One that some people find annoying, and other people find gives them the game they want. The problem is you're making value judgements as to the intent of the mechanic (to attack a person) without regard to the intent or setting desired.

...

And again, you are assuming the purpose of the resource tracking rule is to annoy the player or that it's primary mechanism is player annoyance. That has not been proven, especially when there are plenty of other items and mechanics in the same game that require resource tracking.



So either you and I are in violent agreement, or you have been purposefully ignoring my point. I choose to believe the former.

NichG
2014-11-17, 04:52 PM
Because I'm not Jedipotter and I'm not here to fight Jedipotter's battles. Furthermore, just because one DM uses a mechanic specifically because it annoys one type of player does not in and of itself make the mechanic an annoyance based mechanic. Were that the case, any mechanic that any DM has ever used in part or in whole because it annoyed someone is an annoyance based mechanic, and I suspect that would lead us to defining every mechanic other than a "You win" button as an annoyance mechanic, and I'm sure there's a DM that did that one time to annoy someone too.

Again, you have not proven that the intention of resource management mechanics for spell casting is specifically designed to annoy the player as opposed to accomplish some other goal. You're the one that keeps begging the question here. You keep arguing that resource tracking is an "annoyance based mechanic", when I ask you why, you say it's because the purpose of the mechanic is to annoy, when I ask you to prove that, you say it's because it's an annoyance based mechanic. You haven't yet proven that the mechanic is or was designed to annoy players. Further, you have already argued that some players finding a mechanic annoying is not sufficient reason to declare a mechanic an annoyance mechanic. It logically follows that some DMs using a mechanic because it annoys some players is also not enough to declare the mechanic an annoyance mechanic. A given DM might implement material component tracking to annoy a player, but that does not make the mechanic itself an annoyance based mechanic. You are passing a value judgment on a value neutral thing.


I have said in the last couple of posts that this isn't about mechanics as stand-alone entities, it is about game design methodology. 'Resource tracking', or 'swords', or 'hitpoints' are just mechanics. They aren't annoyance-based or not-annoyance-based or anything, until you attach a goal to them.

Once you attach a goal to them, then it becomes well-defined. A DM who implements material component tracking to annoy a player is using an annoyance-based mechanic as part of their game design. A DM who implements the exact same rule but with some other goal in mind that doesn't involve the logical leap of 'if I annoy them, then good things happen!' is not using an annoyance-based mechanic as part of their game design.

It's the same exact mechanic, but the 'annoyance-based' attribute is a function of the use to which the mechanic is put, not the mechanic itself.

(Also, just for the record: my position so far does not actually require me to prove anything about whether material component tracking is an annoyance-based mechanic when used to implement low-magic games for my central point, because the central point to refute is Jedipotter's comment:


Well....Grod is wrong. Or maybe Grod's things only apply when your playing with the best of the best friends.

And that comment doesn't actually refer to material component tracking or any specific rules at all. But since we're talking about material component tracking and it seems like we're turning a productive corner, lets just leave that be. We seem to at least agree on that point. )


Furthermore, I agree with you that designing a mechanic specifically with the intent to make your players unhappy is a bad idea.

Consensus then. Except I'm a bit confused by what follows.



It does not follow from this that:
A) resource tracking mechanics are or were designed with that intent in mind.
B) that they primarily annoy players
C) that using mechanics which do not make your players unhappy but which might make hypothetical potential players unhappy is a bad thing.


Point A is weird to me. What does what Gygax originally intended have to do with what we're trying to do in this thread? I don't think what resource tracking mechanics in other games and at other tables were designed to do is relevant here, except perhaps as a source of examples.

I disagree with point B in the specific case of 'cheap material component tracking requirements', but not for something as broad as 'all resource tracking mechanics ever'. However, I'm going to leave the details until later in this response where they become relevant.

Point C seems to be phrased a bit weirdly to me. What do you mean by saying "which might make hypothetical players unhappy"? I would say that I nor anyone else in the thread has actually made the claim in point C as you've said it. I would, however, make the following claim (bold text changed):

C) Using mechanics which do not make your players unhappy but which are intended to make hypothetical potential players unhappy is a bad thing.

So, is there still a point of contention or not?



I'm fairly certain that's what I've been saying all along, you know that whole "you haven't proven that resource tracking mechanics are designed with the intent of annoying players" bit. You're the one broadly painting such mechanics as "annoyance based mechanics". I have repeatedly taken the position that said categorization is not possible without further information about how the mechanic is used any why any given DM or game implements the mechanic.


But for the purpose of this thread, we aren't talking about any existing DM or game in which the mechanic is used. We don't need to know why Jedipotter uses it, or why Gygax used it, or anything like that. We are proposing mechanics for a new game, or at least a set of house rules on D&D. So the point of view that determines that 'why any given DM implements the mechanic' is given to us - it's our point of view in proposing the mechanic. This may be different than how the rule has been used by other GMs, but those other GMs are not relevant to this discussion.



By requiring tracking of material components, magical spells, in addition to having their spell slots as a precious resource (for certain values of precious) now also compete with each other for access to another resource. This requires careful consideration not only of the spells to prepare, but the spells to use, how frequently to use them and how one will go about reacquiring those resources since they don't magically reappear after a long rest. Further more, if combined with a world that does not contain a "Ye Olde Magiks Shoppe" on every corner, adds a new wrinkle in the adventuring path for a party as the party must then balance between spending their time and other party resources hunting down magical reagents and actually adventuring. Further, depending on how much a spells power and flashiness relates to the number and quantities of components, it would contribute to a low magic experience by further limiting the use of higher power or flashier spells even at the same level as other spells.

So, lets examine this. Abstracting this from the details, the design goals appear to be:

- Players will be challenged on their ability to conserve and acquire resources.
-- Multiple resources are used in order to force the player to prioritize between things which are not fungible or directly comparable
- Players will be challenged on their ability to manage time
- Disincentivize using 'flashy' solutions when less flashy solutions are available

Do you agree? If so, we can proceed analyze the proposed rule with respect to these goals.

In terms of the question in this thread, namely low-magic D&D, only the last point seems to be directly relevant, and that's the one which the use of the rule in this context is being called out for being annoyance-based.

The reason is that there is no correlation between material component rarity and the flashiness of spells in D&D. Material components with >1gp cost already must be tracked, and all spells with material components <1gp cost are going to end up having the same resource cost to the player (only rarity modulates this as given). Furthermore, the choice of material components to go with spells is fairly arbitrary - a very common component like bat guano can go with a very flashy spell (Fireball), where a fairly rare thing such as 'a small wooden replica of an archery target' or 'chameleon skin' can go with very subtle spells (True Strike, Obscure Object). Add on to that that prices <1gp are basically irrelevant to PCs, so there's very little actual in-game dis-incentivization of flashy solutions.

Now, that by itself just makes the rule non-functional. The reason it's being called out as annoyance based is the elephant in the room, which is that despite the fact that the rule does very little game mechanically, it is actually quite annoying to players, and most people can see themselves thinking twice about bothering with playing a caster at a table using this rule.

So we combine those two things and it begins to look suspicious. Someone proposes a rule that doesn't actually do much to achieve its stated purpose using the in-game mechanics, but one which seems like it might push in that direction through metagame effect. Because of that, to me this reads as a potential situation where the rule has been chosen not for its game mechanical effects but rather for its meta-game effects. And normally it'd probably end there, because the safer assumption in that case is that the person designing the rule either didn't think deeply about the game as it currently stands, or they were assuming that this rule would only be one of a number of simultaneous alterations that adjust the other parameters which are problematic for its function.

However, bizarrely, when it was proposed that this was an attempt to use annoyance to achieve a metagame goal, the response of people on the thread was not 'okay, lets try to modify it to be less annoying' but instead to defend the decision of making a rule to intentionally annoy players! Which means that the suspicion seems to hold true, at least for those people.

I believe that sums up where we are now.

To productively go forward, I'd say the thing to do is two-fold:

- Fix the mechanical problems with the rule in achieving its design goals
- Modify the rule to remove the tedious factor while preserving the design goals

The result of that should be something which doesn't run afoul of Grod's Law, because it won't be nearly as annoying, but at the same time since now we have an explicit list of goals to work with should also serve the same purpose as the annoying version.


So either you and I are in violent agreement, or you have been purposefully ignoring my point. I choose to believe the former.

Given the last post, I think that's likely.

jedipotter
2014-11-17, 09:01 PM
The result of that should be something which doesn't run afoul of Grod's Law, because it won't be nearly as annoying, but at the same time since now we have an explicit list of goals to work with should also serve the same purpose as the annoying version.



Well, I'm never going to agree that ''A DM can make any house rule they want, as long as it does not annoy the players''. It's just silly. The DM could have a house rule like ''say your current hp when i ask'' and a player can say ''nope that rule annoys me''.

It's seems like your dancing around and saying ''as long as a DM makes house rules for ''vague other reasons'' and not ''annoyance'' then the house rules are ok? So if I say ''my material component tracking houserules create the right ambiance and atmosphere for my game setting''. That would be ok?

Kelb_Panthera
2014-11-17, 09:33 PM
Well, I'm never going to agree that ''A DM can make any house rule they want, as long as it does not annoy the players''. It's just silly. The DM could have a house rule like ''say your current hp when i ask'' and a player can say ''nope that rule annoys me''.

It's seems like your dancing around and saying ''as long as a DM makes house rules for ''vague other reasons'' and not ''annoyance'' then the house rules are ok? So if I say ''my material component tracking houserules create the right ambiance and atmosphere for my game setting''. That would be ok?

No one's saying ''A DM can make any house rule they want, as long as it does not annoy the players,'' because that is, indeed, silly. What's being said is "Don't make a houserule that you know will annoy the majority of players when you can get the same effect with a different housrule." It's one thing to implement an annoying but useful houserule and quite another to implement an intentionally antagonistic one that doesn't really accomplish much.

Gavran
2014-11-17, 09:55 PM
Without getting into the last handful of pages of debate, I'd just like to say:

OP: I think the things you have a problem with are as much symptoms of the edition you play and its metagame as the way D&D traditionally handles fantasy. I think most of your rules are designed to counter that, rather than the idea of D&D style magic itself. I firmly believe you would be happier playing a different system, but since you've stated you aren't interested in that (and others have put forth better suggestions than mine, probably) I am going to only say that I think Fourth Edition did an excellent job at fixing the "magic solves/bypasses everything" problem as well as empowering all other archetypes to be fun and feel rewarding. So far it appears Fifth has accomplished a bit of the same while remaining much more true to the... style of Third. It is also possible you would be happier with a non-D&D game, but I don't have the experience with those to point you toward one.

People who aren't Jedipotter: Do you think you could try harder not to derail threads into jediverse debates? He's shown before that he's willing to make/participate in a thread specifically to address these things.

Jedipotter: I don't think that the people in the "woah his game is different from how I like to play" club are wrong but then you're not ever saying they have to play your way either. I just want to say that I totally respect how you handle consistently being argued at by a lot of people, and that while on paper a lot of the things you say sound iffy, in practice by extreme show of good faith and repeated attempts to explain your position, I am very securely in the "I would have to play in one of your games, and give you a chance, to judge it" camp.

jedipotter
2014-11-17, 10:22 PM
No one's saying ''A DM can make any house rule they want, as long as it does not annoy the players,'' because that is, indeed, silly. What's being said is "Don't make a houserule that you know will annoy the majority of players when you can get the same effect with a different housrule." It's one thing to implement an annoying but useful houserule and quite another to implement an intentionally antagonistic one that doesn't really accomplish much.

Ok...that makes sense.

Pex
2014-11-18, 01:08 AM
It's the DM's job to be the arbiter of the game, sometimes to make a ruling when something happens where the rules aren't clear. Some rulings are in a player's favor, some are not. If a player cannot trust the DM to be fair, thinking or perhaps even knowing the DM will not be fair, then he shouldn't be playing with that DM at all. The reverse is also true. If the DM cannot trust his players, if he has to make arbitrary rules to control player behavior, then instead of those rulings he shouldn't be playing with those players in the first place.

It's the DM's campaign, but it's everyone's game.

Sartharina
2014-11-18, 02:20 AM
No one's saying ''A DM can make any house rule they want, as long as it does not annoy the players,'' because that is, indeed, silly. What's being said is "Don't make a houserule that you know will annoy the majority of players when you can get the same effect with a different housrule." It's one thing to implement an annoying but useful houserule and quite another to implement an intentionally antagonistic one that doesn't really accomplish much.

Actually, I think he was saying "Don't make house rules for the explicit purpose of annoying players".

Malistrae
2014-11-18, 01:08 PM
If I really wanted to restrict magic in D&D 3.X, I would go with the Hyborean Age / Ctulhu Mythos routine. Make arcane magic inherently evil, difficult, addictive and just plain unpleasant. Two books can really help with this: Book of Vile Darkness and Heroes of Horror. Apply the taint mechanic to regular spellcasting. The more a mage casts, the more twisted and tainted he becomes. Add gruesome material components, such as humanoid parts, the higher level the spell the more elaborate and difficult to acquire. Add sacrifice mechanisms to powerful spells (great power requires great sacrifice, from blood flows arcane might). Increase the casting time of many spells and introduce ritual elements. Magic items corrupt their users.
Wizards are outcasts from society, and hoard their knowledge in tombs and lairs, most dying due to madness or witch-hunters before they reach their full potential. Sorcerers are inherently unstable, psychotic and regarded as demon-spawn, most killing themselves in a blaze of insanity before the authorities can burn them on a pyre. Arcane casters are never Good (sorcerers can start as Good but their hereditary insanity will quickly turn them Neutral / Evil, while wizardry is just too nasty for Good) and even the most Neutral will slowly slip into Evil. The best way to study arcane magic is to hunt down ancient grimoires and torture secrets out from other mages. Magic shops are extremely rare and only exist in the most secretive parts of the biggest black markets. And gold isn't the only thing you need to pay...
With Divine spellcasters we will take a different route. While arcane magic's themes are "Power demands Sacrifice" and "With great power comes great insanity", divine mostly deals with slavery, alienation and loss of self. Divine spellcasting isn't obviously evil, but many stronger spells require elaborate supplication. As Clerics become more powerful, they slowly lose their free will. Deities will sometimes demand certain actions (the higher the cleric level, the more frequently), failure to cooperate leading to a loss of magic and a curse. Furthermore, clerics slowly gain the personality traits of their deities as they advance in level. The deity starts taking a more and more active role in the cleric's life. Higher level clerics are nothing more than warped flesh puppets, unable to refuse their deity's slightest whim, since their minds have been twisted into an exact, but subservient replica of their deity's, serving the original with fanatical zeal.
Druids experience similar things. But it's different for every single one of them. Some of them become more and more animalistic both in mind and flesh, eventually becoming unable to assume their original shape or communicate meaningfully. Others become embodiments of natural phenomens or concepts.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-18, 02:04 PM
C) Using mechanics which do not make your players unhappy but which are intended to make hypothetical potential players unhappy is a bad thing.

So, is there still a point of contention or not?

On this item absolutely. As a DM, my job is to provide a game that is fun for myself and my players. I have no responsibility to any hypothetical players except in as much as I might want to recruit those players at a future time. If my players and I agree on a rule which furthers the fun of the game (in whatever manner that is) and we find that the rule annoys certain other players or types of players, and we find that having that rule acts as something of a social signal and keeps players or player types who are incompatible with the group from trying to join or joining the group, that isn't a bad thing. We are under no obligation to allow any particular player or type of player in our group, nor are we under any obligation to remove any rules which annoy players that we want to exclude and then exclude those players via some other method (i.e. explicit denials). If I find I enjoy playing games with the sort of people who like resource tracking rules, and I find I don't enjoy playing games with people who are annoyed by resource tracking rules, and having that resource tracking rule acts as a deterrent to the people I don't enjoy playing with, that is not a bad thing, and it's not bad to continue to keep the rule around even if as a group we don't always use that rule.




In terms of the question in this thread, namely low-magic D&D, only the last point seems to be directly relevant, and that's the one which the use of the rule in this context is being called out for being annoyance-based.

I remain confused as to why you don't think limiting a previously unlimited resource which is necessary to produce magic will not by definition reduce the frequency of magic. If your argument is that this rule alone is insufficient for producing a low magic campaign, I would agree with you on that point, but that's true of almost any individual rule you could implement.


Add on to that that prices <1gp are basically irrelevant to PCs, so there's very little actual in-game dis-incentivization of flashy solutions.

Price is not the only barrier to the acquisition of spell components. Let's take the bat guano as an example. If you haven't been near a cave recently (say you're on a water adventure, or in a dessert), where do you expect to acquire it? Ye olde magick shoppe? Perhaps, but what if the game doesn't have those? What are you carrying it in? How does the rest of the party feel about someone who keep insisting on stopping to scrape bat poop off the walls?



- Fix the mechanical problems with the rule in achieving its design goals
- Modify the rule to remove the tedious factor while preserving the design goals


On this front, were it me (and given that I enjoy the things that resource tracking creates, but tend to dislike the tedium), I would perhaps take a page from the Dungeon World folks. In DW, "ammo" consumables (arrows and bolts) are tracked as abstract "units", so your archer might have 3 or 4 "units" of arrows that are purchased for roughly the D&D equivalent of 20 arrows. When your archer gets a partial success, you have to choose a drawback to your success and one of those is losing a "unit" of ammo. Additionally, when your archer fails a roll (or any other time the DM "makes a move", your DM may chose to have your lose a "unit" of ammo. In this way, DW archer classes are not stuck with the tedium of recording a quiver of 30 arrows and marking them off one at a time each round and then gaining some back (if you allow that rule) after the battle, but they are still have a limited amount of ammo that could run out at a most inconvenient time.

Taking this back to a D&D type game, I might implement something like:
Your component pouch contains a number of common components for your spells in a limited number of uses, high value components (that is, ones with explicit costs) are not included. When casting a spell, roll 1d10. If the result is less than (or equal if you want) to the level of the cast spell, mark off a usage of spell components (in this case, 0 = 0 on the d10). The only part then is to set a price for the component pouch uses that is not negligible (you don't want the PC walking around with 50 uses) but also not absurdly punishing (given the frequency of component use in this vs the DW version, you need more than 2 or 3 uses). Additionally, you would probably want some sort of "crafting" mechanic for wizards to craft their own components out of resources. Perhaps something like Xd4 hours of preparation time (which means down time, not traveling, not in combat) per usage or some such. Admittedly this heavily abstracts the resource tracking, and also doesn't quite produce the same effect, but I think it would largely be close enough. As an option if one wanted more "realism" one could implement individual usage counts for all of the components and mark of usages for the individual components of the spell cast.


It's the DM's job to be the arbiter of the game, sometimes to make a ruling when something happens where the rules aren't clear. Some rulings are in a player's favor, some are not. If a player cannot trust the DM to be fair, thinking or perhaps even knowing the DM will not be fair, then he shouldn't be playing with that DM at all. The reverse is also true. If the DM cannot trust his players, if he has to make arbitrary rules to control player behavior, then instead of those rulings he shouldn't be playing with those players in the first place.

It's the DM's campaign, but it's everyone's game.

Quoted for truth. Ultimately if you find yourself constantly crafting rules to play wack a mole with a player you don't trust or who won't respect the game, then you shouldn't be playing with them at all.

NichG
2014-11-18, 05:14 PM
On this item absolutely. As a DM, my job is to provide a game that is fun for myself and my players. I have no responsibility to any hypothetical players except in as much as I might want to recruit those players at a future time. If my players and I agree on a rule which furthers the fun of the game (in whatever manner that is) and we find that the rule annoys certain other players or types of players, and we find that having that rule acts as something of a social signal and keeps players or player types who are incompatible with the group from trying to join or joining the group, that isn't a bad thing. We are under no obligation to allow any particular player or type of player in our group, nor are we under any obligation to remove any rules which annoy players that we want to exclude and then exclude those players via some other method (i.e. explicit denials). If I find I enjoy playing games with the sort of people who like resource tracking rules, and I find I don't enjoy playing games with people who are annoyed by resource tracking rules, and having that resource tracking rule acts as a deterrent to the people I don't enjoy playing with, that is not a bad thing, and it's not bad to continue to keep the rule around even if as a group we don't always use that rule.

I would say that it is a bad thing because it's passive aggressive rather than just openly communicating the preferences and assumptions of your game to potential players. If you don't want particular types of players, you should just communicate that directly to applicants to your game rather than creating a hostile environment to them and hope they get the hint. It's not a safe assumption that these potential players are going to take the hint.

Instead, you're likely to end up with situations where you have players who join your game, (rightly) feel singled out and get frustrated, but don't understand that you're basically telling them to leave because you aren't communicating it directly to them. So they end up sticking around and whining, misbehaving, and otherwise making things bog down not just for them but for everyone else at the table. Without exception, you're going to have a better time of it if you just told that player 'no' to begin with and didn't do the spiral of discontentment thing until they finally act out enough that you kick them or they leave.



I remain confused as to why you don't think limiting a previously unlimited resource which is necessary to produce magic will not by definition reduce the frequency of magic. If your argument is that this rule alone is insufficient for producing a low magic campaign, I would agree with you on that point, but that's true of almost any individual rule you could implement.

Price is not the only barrier to the acquisition of spell components. Let's take the bat guano as an example. If you haven't been near a cave recently (say you're on a water adventure, or in a dessert), where do you expect to acquire it? Ye olde magick shoppe? Perhaps, but what if the game doesn't have those? What are you carrying it in? How does the rest of the party feel about someone who keep insisting on stopping to scrape bat poop off the walls?


It's because the limit doesn't actually do all that much in-character. It's sort of like adding a mechanic where you have to pay 3cp in maintenance cost for every time you swing your sword or it eventually breaks - yes, by definition it 'increases the cost of being a sword-user', but not by an amount that actually matters.

So if we take the bat guano example, lets say that for some reason it isn't something sold to farmers as fertilizer (which, historically, it was - at least, by local peoples in the Andes and then later by Europeans starting in the 17th century). There's quite a few things I can do to get a supply, and the only significant cost is screen-time, not actual in-character difficulty.

For example, I post a bounty on the stuff in town: 1sp per dose of bat guano to any peasant who brings it, up to 5gp. But even that is overly generous: a trained hireling costs 3sp/day, and I can just keep two or three 'material component harvesters' in my continuous employ to wander around the countryside gathering all the random crap I need, then have it waiting when I get back to town. By the time I'm casting Fireball I'm 5th level, which means by WBL is 9000gp. Using just 1% of my WBL, I can retain a material component harvester in my employ for almost a year.

Or, I let the local merchants know: 'hey, I want all this stuff, keep an eye out' and they pay the harvesters for me - upside is I'm not maintaining employees, downside is the markup, but I probably still end up ahead.

Or, I get a pet bat. I don't actually know that there's a listed price for a pet bat in D&D, but I'm guessing its less than a trained guard dog (25gp). So if I don't want to worry about wages for the material component harvester and I really just want my daily dose of Fireball, I can go this route.

Or, absolute worst case scenario, I just pay the feat tax and take Eschew Materials. As a wizard, I'm not incredibly feat starved, but the upside is now I'm a wizard who gets to ignore a rule which in the DM's setting logic imposes practical limits on what casters can do. Which means that if the DM is playing it straight, NPC casters should be limited by regional access to material components. So now, compared to the ambient level of magic, I'm actually slightly higher magic than I would have been in regular D&D (this is just another version of the problem of low-magic-items nerfing mundanes more than casters).

As to the incidentals of carrying the stuff around: 'The party might be grossed out' is not a balancing factor for anything, because a person can simply choose to play a character who doesn't care about the opinions of their peers about their personal habits. And the party is not going to kick out the wizard for his harvesting habits since A) there's a metagame constraint of 'my friend is playing this character and we're all here to play an RPG so we have to let him be in our party', and B) the wizard can simply say 'do you want me to be able to cast spells for you guys or not?' - its not a random quirk, its a necessity of the profession.

That's basically the problem with the rule - it's something which you're almost guaranteed to be able to get around and at very little actual cost to your character, but potentially at the cost of a lot time spent at the gaming table negotiating these particular convoluted schemes with the DM. That time is annoying to have to spend out of character, but it doesn't actually cost in-character time or resources (or at least, not an amount that is significant under most gaming conditions).

If you run a game where the party is stranded away from civilization in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, then obviously that changes the balance of factors. But that's the kind of thing that needs to be specified.



On this front, were it me (and given that I enjoy the things that resource tracking creates, but tend to dislike the tedium), I would perhaps take a page from the Dungeon World folks. In DW, "ammo" consumables (arrows and bolts) are tracked as abstract "units", so your archer might have 3 or 4 "units" of arrows that are purchased for roughly the D&D equivalent of 20 arrows. When your archer gets a partial success, you have to choose a drawback to your success and one of those is losing a "unit" of ammo. Additionally, when your archer fails a roll (or any other time the DM "makes a move", your DM may chose to have your lose a "unit" of ammo. In this way, DW archer classes are not stuck with the tedium of recording a quiver of 30 arrows and marking them off one at a time each round and then gaining some back (if you allow that rule) after the battle, but they are still have a limited amount of ammo that could run out at a most inconvenient time.

Taking this back to a D&D type game, I might implement something like:
Your component pouch contains a number of common components for your spells in a limited number of uses, high value components (that is, ones with explicit costs) are not included. When casting a spell, roll 1d10. If the result is less than (or equal if you want) to the level of the cast spell, mark off a usage of spell components (in this case, 0 = 0 on the d10). The only part then is to set a price for the component pouch uses that is not negligible (you don't want the PC walking around with 50 uses) but also not absurdly punishing (given the frequency of component use in this vs the DW version, you need more than 2 or 3 uses). Additionally, you would probably want some sort of "crafting" mechanic for wizards to craft their own components out of resources. Perhaps something like Xd4 hours of preparation time (which means down time, not traveling, not in combat) per usage or some such. Admittedly this heavily abstracts the resource tracking, and also doesn't quite produce the same effect, but I think it would largely be close enough. As an option if one wanted more "realism" one could implement individual usage counts for all of the components and mark of usages for the individual components of the spell cast.

Yes, I think this is a good way to go about it. What I'd suggest is to make the limiting factor weight rather than gp cost, because gp cost limits that work at Lv1 won't work at Lv5 even. Five abstract units of material components weighs, say, 1lbs. Low-strength wizards are going to have light load carrying capacities in the range of 30lbs or so, much of which will be going towards other gear. If the game is otherwise low magic and Heward's Handy Haversack is rare, then that may continue to be a problem or at best lead to the wizard needing a pack animal or to have someone else carry their components for them.

Alternately, you have to also make the campaign a low-wealth game, where wealth doesn't increase much over levels.

Sartharina
2014-11-18, 05:48 PM
I would say that it is a bad thing because it's passive aggressive rather than just openly communicating the preferences and assumptions of your game to potential players. If you don't want particular types of players, you should just communicate that directly to applicants to your game rather than creating a hostile environment to them and hope they get the hint. It's not a safe assumption that these potential players are going to take the hint.

Instead, you're likely to end up with situations where you have players who join your game, (rightly) feel singled out and get frustrated, but don't understand that you're basically telling them to leave because you aren't communicating it directly to them. So they end up sticking around and whining, misbehaving, and otherwise making things bog down not just for them but for everyone else at the table. Without exception, you're going to have a better time of it if you just told that player 'no' to begin with and didn't do the spiral of discontentment thing until they finally act out enough that you kick them or they leave.You tell them the rules before they join, upfront.

I find that without heavy houserule support, players start ignoring the intended 'theme' of a game and start reverting to situationally optimal strategies/tactics.

Talakeal
2014-11-18, 07:05 PM
I understand where you're coming from. I dislike the 'mechanistic' feel D&D seems to push towards magic sometimes myself. But I'm not sure that Lord of the Rings is as good an example as you think it is. Tolkien made is magic an organic part of the story, and depicted it as art (or sub-creative ability) rather than anything like modern games tend to do. But there was still an awful lot of it.

The Fellowship, for example, are loaded up to the edges of Monty-Haul-dom with potent magical loot:

When he leaves Rivendel, Gandalf has: a Staff of Power, Glamdring - the personal sword of the Last King of Gondolin (+3 at least, it causes orcs to make morale checks when they see it), AND the one and only Ring of Fire, one of the most powerful magical items in existence, behind only Vilya and the One. (Oh yeah, the One is in the party, too!) Plus he's got a virtual jug of potion of healing - enough to give the whole party multiple doses.

Now move on to Frodo who has, upon leaving Lothlorien: the One Ring, aka. the most potent magical item in the campaign world. A suit of mithril mail "worth a king's ransom" (+3 at a minimum, arguably +5). Sting, another sword from ancient Gondolin, likely not quite as potent as Glamdring, but particularly potent vs. evil creatures. The Phial of Galadriel - a high-powered magic item. In additions to its nifty "continual light" function, it bursts through magical wards and makes evil creatures (even those of great power) flee and/or suffer considerable penalties. Also apparently grants the power to speak, but not understand, Quenya.

Aragorn makes out like a bandit. (Maybe he's friends with the GM? :smallbiggrin:) He gets Anduril - the reforged sword that *killed* the Big Bad's last physical incarnation. (+5 *at least*). He also gets a nifty magic sheath for Anduril. One that apparently grants immunity to item saving throws to the sword drawn from it. Then there's the Elfstone - basically aRing of Power, without the drawbacks, arguably the "best" magic item in the whole campaign world. And, because he's not carrying enough loot yet, he also has the Ring of Barahir - thousands of years old, originally owned by King Finrod Felagun of Nargothrond in the First Age. Once coveted by Morgoth himself, this is arguably the oldest magic item in the campaign world. Oh, by the end of the game, he's gotten not one, but *two* crystal balls (though one of them is borked).

Sam, Merry, and Pippin get magic daggers all around, with extra bonuses vs. undead. Pippin also ends up getting a mithril helm. Sam's Gift is basically a 9th level spell (maybe even epic) in a box - just because its not useful in combat doesn't make it less magical or potent. Along with that, Sam also gets a Rope of Climbing - don't know what else to label elf-rope that burns evil, is unnaturally tough, and unties itself when you want it to but not before...

Legolas has the Bow of Lothlorien (with matching arrows) - (exact bonus arguable, but I'd say at least +3, possibly with some other enchantments. Legolas wasn't shooting Nazgul out of the sky before he got it, that's for sure.)

The rest of the party is a little lighter in the obvious magic department, but don't forget that everyone is packing Cloaks of Elvenkind, and a ton of magic rations that take up virtually no encumberance. (And magic boats too.)


And as for casters, here's a short list of characters we see using magic on the pages of LotR: Gandalf, the Nazgul, the Barrow-wight, Tom Bombadil, Aragon, Glorfindel, Elrond, the Balrog, Galadriel, Frodo, Denethor, the Lord of the Nazgul, Saruman, Sauron, and Celeborn. And the Mouth of Sauron is explicitly described by Tolkien as a sorcerer in Return of the King.

Again, it's not that Middle-Earth doesn't have magic - it has loads of it. But it is presented and fells very differently from the "Vancian" extremely mechanical and tactical magic that D&D often focuses on.

(Sorry for going on so long, but "there's not much magic in LotR" is a pet peeve of mine, so I've spent a lot of time thinking and talking about this particular point. As you can probably tell. :smallwink:)

While I agree with what you say, a lot of it is circular logic. You assume that because the items are said to be powerful in the world, therefore they are powerful in D&D, therefore it must be a high magic world.

If the strongest sword in the world is, say +2, then Anduril could still be the strongest sword in the world without being a +5 weapon. We have no point of reference here.

A lot of the items you describe are never given any powers by Tolkien, and others have only very minor powers described. Many could merely be masterwork or alchemical items, composed of exotic materials, or simply have a lot of monetary / historical / cultural significance without any magic powers at all.



The relevant population is 685, as the word population applies just as well to subsets and the obvious subset is ticket buyers. As for people not knowing about probability, I don't buy it. Everyone playing D&D is playing a mechanically intensive game with a bunch of dice, some level of probability knowledge (at least at an intuitive level) follows. Plus, it's not like the math behind that particular case was hard - that's 6th grade probability math, not anything advanced.

I would NEVER assume that the average gamer has a grasp of higher math or statistics just because they play dice games. I have seen an astonishing number of players who fill up entire notebooks just calculating whether or not they hit or how many damage they do to a creature with DR, and have heard many statements like "This dice has roll 3 ones in a row, so there is no way it can roll another one."



Yes, my game world with magic and dragons is ''unrealistic''......good call.


I believe he means "logically inconsistent" rather than "unrealistic".

NichG
2014-11-18, 07:07 PM
You tell them the rules before they join, upfront.

I find that without heavy houserule support, players start ignoring the intended 'theme' of a game and start reverting to situationally optimal strategies/tactics.

The point here is about making rules whose purpose is not to establish any kind of theme or anything like that, but specifically to upset and annoy players you want to drive away. If there are certain people you don't want to play with, simply don't play with them.

Sartharina
2014-11-18, 07:13 PM
The point here is about making rules whose purpose is not to establish any kind of theme or anything like that, but specifically to upset and annoy players you want to drive away. If there are certain people you don't want to play with, simply don't play with them.

That's Jedipotter's logic. My own logic (I can't speak for 1337 b4k4, but think it's similar) is to add a greater strategic limitation on Tier 1 spellcasters, and somewhat limiting campaign-wide spell-selection in a consistent, fair, and world-grounded way.

jedipotter
2014-11-18, 07:44 PM
I would say that it is a bad thing because it's passive aggressive rather than just openly communicating the preferences and assumptions of your game to potential players. If you don't want particular types of players, you should just communicate that directly to applicants to your game rather than creating a hostile environment to them and hope they get the hint. It's not a safe assumption that these potential players are going to take the hint.

I'd say I've very clear on the types of players I want in my games. Really, really, in your face very hard core clear. But not everyone listens or can take a hint or even a direct word spoken to them. So you will always get players that try to slip in to the game.



Instead, you're likely to end up with situations where you have players who join your game, (rightly) feel singled out and get frustrated, but don't understand that you're basically telling them to leave because you aren't communicating it directly to them. So they end up sticking around and whining, misbehaving, and otherwise making things bog down not just for them but for everyone else at the table. Without exception, you're going to have a better time of it if you just told that player 'no' to begin with and didn't do the spiral of discontentment thing until they finally act out enough that you kick them or they leave.

I'm all about saying 'No', and still find house rules useful.



For example, I post a bounty on the stuff in town: /Or, I let the local merchants know/Or, I get a pet bat.


All fine ideas, but your missing the point. See: the problem player won't want to ''waste the time'' doing stuff like that. They want to cast spells, go 'pew pew' and dominate the game. They don't want to waste time hiring an NPC to care for a pet bat, they want to attack the magic shop in town...again.




Which means that if the DM is playing it straight, NPC casters should be limited by regional access to material components. So now, compared to the ambient level of magic, I'm actually slightly higher magic than I would have been in regular D&D (this is just another version of the problem of low-magic-items nerfing mundanes more than casters).

NPC's never have a problem as they are not run by problem players, they are run by the amazing DM. And NPC's value flavor over mechanics, unlike problem players. And NPC's have no problem picking spells that have easy to get materials, they are not like the problem player that ''must have'' the list of ''awesome'' spells at all times to have ''fun''.



That's basically the problem with the rule - it's something which you're almost guaranteed to be able to get around and at very little actual cost to your character, but potentially at the cost of a lot time spent at the gaming table negotiating these particular convoluted schemes with the DM. That time is annoying to have to spend out of character, but it doesn't actually cost in-character time or resources (or at least, not an amount that is significant under most gaming conditions).

But your saying you can work with the rule and get along just fine and it would be easy.....so the rule should not exist? But again, think of the point that the problem player can't even do your 'easy plan'. All they can do is complain, not be a spellcaster or leave.

Funny Story:Player Bob of the character Zamfor goes to a random small town. He buys a pet bat, and then hires some NPC to take care of the bat, and even gives him 10 gold. On his sheet Bob just writes ''in 'some town' have 'Bat-Guy' with pet bat''. As DM I very, very very loudly tell Bob the town is called Sweetwater, and the farmers name is Jolen and his farm is on South Road south of the town. Bob does not listen or change what he wrote.

Next week. Zamfor runs out of bat guano! Bob says ''oh, oh...Zamfor runs back to the town were Bat Guy lives and gets more!''

Ah, the DM sits back for the show.....

The DM asks ''so what town does Zamfor run too?""
Bob-"Oh, don't play that game...you know the town, er, it's that one."
DM-''that one...is not a town.''
Bob-''Aww, no fair! You can't expect me to remember that stuff from the last game!"
DM-"Why not? I remember."
Bob-"It's not fair! I can't remember!''
DM-"I know remembering is hard. But you know what I also do. I write stuff down'' ** DM holds up his whole paragraph of notes just on this small topic.
Bob-"It's not fair! Ok, fine! Zamfor starts at the town of Deadwood. Is this the right town?"
DM-''You have no idea."
Bob-''Ok, Zamfor walks all around town and looks for that guy he hired"
DM-''Zamfor does not see 'that guy' on the streets as he walks around"
Bob-"Ok, Zamfor stops a commoner and asks him if he knows Bat Guy and were Bat Guy lives.''
DM-"The commoner does not know anyone named Bat Guy."







If you run a game where the party is stranded away from civilization in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, then obviously that changes the balance of factors. But that's the kind of thing that needs to be specified.

No? Are you saying you expect the game to take place right next to a town at all times? I'm not talking about ''the whole world'', i'm just talking about the tiny corner where the PC's are......because in my games they are ''cut off'' from civilization all the time.

1337 b4k4
2014-11-18, 07:48 PM
I would say that it is a bad thing because it's passive aggressive rather than just openly communicating the preferences and assumptions of your game to potential players. If you don't want particular types of players, you should just communicate that directly to applicants to your game rather than creating a hostile environment to them and hope they get the hint. It's not a safe assumption that these potential players are going to take the hint.

There's nothing passive aggressive about it. The rules that the game will play by are clearly stated up front. Players may choose to play or not as the case may be. Short of actively being aggressive ("If you don't like resource mechanics, I don't want to play with you"), which has it's own problems, I can't think of a more direct way to communicate the preferences and assumptions of the game than by the rules themselves and the setting information.


Instead, you're likely to end up with situations where you have players who join your game, (rightly) feel singled out and get frustrated, but don't understand that you're basically telling them to leave because you aren't communicating it directly to them. So they end up sticking around and whining, misbehaving, and otherwise making things bog down not just for them but for everyone else at the table.

Again, players who join the game in full knowledge of the rules who dislike the rules and misbehave are ejected from the game. There is no "sticking around" because I have no obligation to provide for you any type of game other than the one I told you was going to be provided when I agreed to DM. A player who does not understand the purpose or implications of a rule is of course free to discuss that with the DM, but again, that's how adults handle things. Immature children whine and misbehave and I don't play with immature children.



That's basically the problem with the rule - it's something which you're almost guaranteed to be able to get around and at very little actual cost to your character, but potentially at the cost of a lot time spent at the gaming table negotiating these particular convoluted schemes with the DM. That time is annoying to have to spend out of character, but it doesn't actually cost in-character time or resources (or at least, not an amount that is significant under most gaming conditions).

If you run a game where the party is stranded away from civilization in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, then obviously that changes the balance of factors. But that's the kind of thing that needs to be specified.

Well yes, I sort of assumed that if you implement a resource tracking system with the intent on it limiting the amount of magic in the system, that it went without saying you would also need to limit the availability of those same resources. Even if you didn't pick that up as part of the assumed rule, it would be covered in my previous statement that a resource tracking system alone is not sufficient to accomplish the goal in question.


Alternately, you have to also make the campaign a low-wealth game, where wealth doesn't increase much over levels.

This is probably the better approach. Wealth buys too many resources.


The point here is about making rules whose purpose is not to establish any kind of theme or anything like that, but specifically to upset and annoy players you want to drive away. If there are certain people you don't want to play with, simply don't play with them.

Except I haven't suggested doing that. I've simply refused to condemn the idea of having a rule in your game which in addition to accomplishing some goal in game also has the effect of dissuading players you don't want to play with from playing.

Knaight
2014-11-18, 10:21 PM
I would NEVER assume that the average gamer has a grasp of higher math or statistics just because they play dice games. I have seen an astonishing number of players who fill up entire notebooks just calculating whether or not they hit or how many damage they do to a creature with DR, and have heard many statements like "This dice has roll 3 ones in a row, so there is no way it can roll another one."

Higher math, no. I'm not going to assume that everyone at the table can handle differential equations, or cryptography, or whatever else (though at my current table about half can for each). The probability I was doing in sixth grade? That much I'm willing to assume.

NichG
2014-11-18, 10:34 PM
Except I haven't suggested doing that. I've simply refused to condemn the idea of having a rule in your game which in addition to accomplishing some goal in game also has the effect of dissuading players you don't want to play with from playing.

There are two parallel discussions going on here, and they're getting mixed together in very misleading ways. The text which you quoted from me is in response to the remaining contention about your point C), which was explicitly:



C) Using mechanics which do not make your players unhappy but which are intended to make hypothetical potential players unhappy is a bad thing.


The part that I am condemning is making a game design decision with the specific intent of making hypothetical potential players unhappy. If you claim you are not suggesting doing that, then there is no discussion left on this point. But you previously posted that you did disagree with this statement.

So which is it? If you're asserting that this can be good design (e.g. 'suggested doing that'), I stand by my objection that you should just filter out those players ahead of time rather than modifying your game for people who, ideally, won't even be playing it. If you're not asserting that, then I don't understand your earlier objection to my version of point C.


There's nothing passive aggressive about it. The rules that the game will play by are clearly stated up front. Players may choose to play or not as the case may be. Short of actively being aggressive ("If you don't like resource mechanics, I don't want to play with you"), which has it's own problems, I can't think of a more direct way to communicate the preferences and assumptions of the game than by the rules themselves and the setting information.

In this situation, you should be actively aggressive. Out of game solutions for out of game problems. You don't have to punch them, but you can say: "I run a game that focuses on a lot of setting details, flavor, and trying to capture the feel of living in this world rather than a focus on the game and metagame, personal power, or wish fulfillment. If you think that having a 30 minute chat with the local merchant about news from the north and the emergence of a new heresy of the Indolene faith is boring, you aren't going to enjoy my game."

Talakeal
2014-11-18, 10:56 PM
Higher math, no. I'm not going to assume that everyone at the table can handle differential equations, or cryptography, or whatever else (though at my current table about half can for each). The probability I was doing in sixth grade? That much I'm willing to assume.

Maybe I have just gamed with a lot of dumb people, but I find many of them unable to deal with simple addition and subtraction without numerous mistakes and plenty of scratch paper, and most have no knowledge of probability or statistics. To be fair, I graduated college without ever having a class, even college statistics, that dealt with things similar to the probability of a dice roll.

McBars
2014-11-18, 11:52 PM
Maybe I have just gamed with a lot of dumb people, but I find many of them unable to deal with simple addition and subtraction without numerous mistakes and plenty of scratch paper, and most have no knowledge of probability or statistics. To be fair, I graduated college without ever having a class, even college statistics, that dealt with things similar to the probability of a dice roll.

Yeah well if people can't grasp or don't have even a rough concept of the probability of dice rolls, then yes they're dumb. But that's their fault, not the game system's. That said all you really need to know is in the player's handbook, especially in 5E where there is less addition and subtraction etc. of static variables than in previous editions.