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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 77 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: The Grognard Speaks: System and Step on Up in OD&D  (Read 13313 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2004, 08:25:18 PM »

Sean: I'm 28, pa! (in responce to 'what's your age, son?') :) Younger than the first conglomerations of D&D.

What I'd say your talking about here is speaking through the rules Vs speaking (about the game) through negotiation. By speaking, I mean how, in relation to a certain activity, your adding something.

See, I don't really think Ron's story counts as an example of speaking through negotiation. He used the breath holding and drowning rules and won. That's speaking through the rules (unless there were no rules for that, then my example is screwed!)

While Erick Wujcik's story is about him speaking through negotiation, where he's dealing with the other user/GM. They talk shit loads about the traps description and when they get back to the actual rules, his thief doesn't die. This SOUNDS like it's speaking through the rules, but just as easily they could have been negotiating on anything, eg buying the GM some pizza (and when they get back to the rules, the thief doesn't die). I'm not knocking this when I say this, just contrasting the difference.

For example, if Ron's story involved him saying 'Hey, all geeks masturbate furiously. So I hand him a girlie mag and that'll distract him while we go past!' THAT isn't anything to do with the rules, it's speaking through negotiation. And I'd buy into that deal, I have to say.

I also think Rafiels story, though some of it is speaking through rules, is a good example of speaking through negotiation. Especially that "you can send your greatest hero along with me to make sure the ox comes back (I can always use more muscle!).", where, with nothing to do with the rules, he's just neatly negotiated a resource for himself. I mean, hell, he's convinced me and I have nothing to do with that game!


I have to say I didn't use the word Drift right. I meant not so much bending a rule, but drifting away from how the rulebook and its material is used as a whole. Sort of like taking a cooking pot, turning it upside down and turning it into a drum/musical intrument. That's what I ment by drift (bad use of forge lexicon though, by me).


I'd like to make a comparison to universalis here, too. I mean, in that game, having coins doesn't mean anything. They are a tool of negotiation. They provoke you to negotiate (and aid it). You don't go 'whey hey, I've got lots of coins' like you might say 'whey hey, I've got lots of gold' in D&D.

In this old D&D your talking about, HP (and other resources) don't mean much. You can't do any cool things through the combat rules, it's just like snakes and ladders. What happens, happens, you can't change much at all. So what can you do?

I really think that your trying to identify that in doing that, OD&D provokes negotiation. And I think your right. It doesn't aid it like universalis. But just like universalis say 'hey, imagine some stuff', D&D said 'imagine a fantasy world' and this was the route a user is propelled through via the rules lack of stuff (universalis could be said to do the same...coins are boring by themselves of course, therefore you either negotiate or don't play).

This whole imagination thing answers the question 'So what can you do? with Start using your imagination and cut a deal with the GM.

It's great, but I think my problem is that where universalis is like the drum (from my analogy) and it's clear you use it as a drum, this version of D&D mentioned says to use it like a pot, and if users don't figure out that yes, its shit as a pot but it's way wicked if used as a drum, they walk away and were left with a tiny hobby.

Wonderful, but terribly dangerous to emulate in new RPG designs, IMO.

Quote
Another great issue for another thread is the use of Drama-driven system-trumps in all manner of RPGs to support Narrativism in general, and why people who came to Narrativism using those kinds of techniques maybe have the hardest time of all 'getting' Narrativist-facilitating design.


Astute observation! Just wanted to high five you on it! Memorising it now. :)
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Callan S.
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« Reply #16 on: August 10, 2004, 08:41:13 PM »

Quote from: Rafial
However, others reacted to this situation by elaborating the rules to cover more situations, and while the same clever problem solving can still go on, there are often many more points of contact between the SIS and system. The intention was to be freeing (you now have more in system options that just hitting the monster with the sword), but it can also be seen as constraining (the system doesn't say you can do that, so you can't). With early D&D, adopting the second view was quickly self defeating, because the system was so obviously incomplete. With the greater detail of many current systems, it's much easier to become trapped within the box of system.


Emphasis mine.

I think the fear of being 'trapped' in the mode of thinking inside the (system) box is very prevalent around the roleplay community. RPG.nets many D20 sucks rants seem to revolve around it. And I understand what you mean.

As I suggested above though, if your stopping people from staying inside/being trapped inside the box by making it a pretty horrible box (like that old 'snakes and ladders' like D&D is), it's not any more healthy than trapping them in the box with lots of rule options, IMO.

Increasing the rules to cover more situations isn't contraining. It just doesn't encourage everyone to get the hell out of dodge city/negotiate. And the other way isn't any better.
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Philosopher Gamer
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efindel
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« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2004, 07:40:16 AM »

Beyond individual gamer anecdotes, Dragon was full of advice on that sort of stuff, back in the '80s.  Articles on 'interesting' ways to use spells and magic items, people in the letters column sharing their tricks, articles talking about adventuring equipment to use like crowbars, continual light cubes, etc.

Robert Plamondon's book Through Dungeons Deep enshrines a lot of this in its advice as well, with its methods of searching for traps, opening doors, opening treasure chests, etc.  Such behavior was common enough that Grimtooth's Traps had a section called "various killers of paranoids" -- traps on chests and the like designed to leave anyone who just walked up and opened them normally unhurt, but to kill those who were opening them at a distance with spears, throwing a rope around the chest and dragging it out, etc.

And in my own personal experience, I dealt with a lot of it too.  Players would get very creative with avoiding combat, even within the rules -- especially when given access to things like a passwall spell.
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Sean
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« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2004, 06:09:04 PM »

Hi folks -

This has been a great thread for me personally. I'm posting to it because I got some emails about it, but I'm really not sure I have too much left to say. Everyone seems to be pretty close to each other in terms of views and understanding.

I'm really interested in the idea of mechanics and formalized system-level techniques for harnessing this kind of play, so if anyone has more suggestions (beyond Elfs and Donjon/Hackmaster and Munchkin d20/OD&D itself) I'd love to hear them. Looking at that list, I'm actually inclined to write a 'straight' game that facilitates this sort of play (and not by the absence of system as per OD&D). However, I just got bombed with work, so I doubt I'll be posting much anywhere for the next little while.

Other than that, unless there's further disagreement or nuance, I'm willing to declare victory. Thanks to everyone for a thought-provoking discussion!
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