Freitag, Februar 15, 2013

OSR and lethality - One does not simply walk into 'Megadungeon'

'One does not simply walk into that place of darkness!' Boromir actually has an old school perspective, while Aragorn and the rest are a bunch of new school story-tellers who rely on their DM's good-will (read DM's fiat) when setting out as nine companions and with no hirelings to invade the realm of darkness and destroy the enemy's artifact of power, firmly believing that, because they are the player characters, they ought to succeed for the sake of the story. And of course, the DM being a new school type himself lets the old school guy die.

Suggested Reading
Over at the Basic Fantasy RPG Blog there is an article on 'What is Old School?'. A good read on the effects of long and detailed character generation in some systems, game balance and some thoughts on the Basic Fantasy RPG, as well. (Tolkien obviously spent a lot of time on character creation.)

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I read another post on the fighter class with statistical data on the chances of survival in different editions of the D&D game. (I cannot find the link anymore. It's on the great 1d8 blog.) Way-back editions were rather dangerous (lethal) systems for player characters while the 3+ editions seem to be piece-of-cake/god mode-variants where players can drive their characters through hordes of enemies. It seems to me to be a mixture of hubris-inspired day-dreaming, video game aesthetics, and ignorance. I understand the video game experience, and day-dreaming is important. The ignorance part bothers me. Players have to accept boundaries, at the table, in their off-table lives, and within the game world. Ignoring the boundaries of another character (PC, NPC, or monster) leads to conflict.
There is one thing I do not like about AI in computer games. These AI controlled characters act like players, attacking everything on sight. It is such a bad thing, that there are no encounter reaction tables for player characters.

Lethality should make you pause, and think for a while.

Walking into the dragon's den is trespassing, intrusion of its territory, and is easily interpreted as threatening. So, why wonder, if the dragon attacks? Leave him alone, you plate-mailed magic-sword wielding bullies. And you dwarves! Thinking you can claim your old gold, and defeat the mighty Smaug by brandishing your old grudge, and a hobbit-thief alone? And who slayed your dragon, anyway?
When you delve into the dungeon, be prepared, or else leave the site to live another day, and find suitable adventure elsewhere. (Remember how Boromir did not want to delve into the Megadungeon of Moria?)

On your next encounter evade, move along. Take a walk on the sunny side of the street, instead.

Lose balance to find balance.

Notes: 
  • I love Tolkien's work, and I like the Jackson-cum-Henchmen&Hirelings-interpretation of The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit. 
  • And I defend DM's fiat over exacting rules enforcement. The rules are made for the gamers, not the other way around. 
  • And I like different playing styles: old school types, and new school types.
  • Also, I do like Aragorn, and the Companions' bold effort to sneak into Mordor. In fact, they did not behave like players in some games. They snuck. Players don't do that.
  • I yet have to find out what that last cryptic sentence means to me. I wrote it with some blurred idea on game balance in my mind. 
  • I know that my LotR/TH example is not quite appropriate as the stories were written by an author, and not invented during play.
  • There is no real problem here. Move along. Play a game.

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