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Author Topic: D&D  (Read 4431 times)
Zak Arntson
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« on: May 31, 2001, 01:20:00 PM »

Okay, guess what I just played ...

But, it went okay.  There's a bunch of newer players (including the DM) who seem to be pretty happy with learning the game, getting a feel for roleplaying, and have fun with the dungeon crawl.  Though I'm starting to see a Dungeon Crawl as a pretty dull thing, when used generically (generic dungeon crawl being the driving force behind D&D modules, it seems).

So, some observations.

I created a PC with Simulationism in mind (I wanted to play an Upper-Class Archaeologist, regardless of what the real classes are!), though I knew it would be a Dungeon Crawl, so I min-maxed (w/ two attacks and a good hit/damage bonus, stuck the low stats in Wisdom and Charisma).  A bit of Gamism to survive.

So during play, there is a lot of wandering around, obligatory searching for traps, and about one combat per session so far.  I prefer Gamism (i.e., competition, winning losing) or loosely-ruled Simulationist/Narrativist.

My big beef with D&D is that it can't figure out what it wants to be.  It can't decide between a Match Wits With DM Dungeon Crawl, or a Simulation of Heroic Fantasy Archetypes.

So ... my coping mechanisms?


     
  • Distance myself from the Character. If he dies, I'll just roll up a new one.  This in no way indicates a loss of love for the PC.  In fact, sinc he's expendable, I can have that much more fun!
     
  • Engage in combat whenever possible.  I recognized that this is a Dungeon Crawl with the focus on fighting monsters.  So armed with a justification (low Wisdom combined with an effete sense of "romantic adventure"), I can charge headlong into combat without being a walking tank.
     
  • Have as much fun as possible.  Playing an snobbish uppercrust fellow allows for all sorts of funny quips and complaints.  As an archaeologist, being more interested in the sarcophagi and ancient carvings than any mundane gold or gems, much to the surprise and delight and laughter of the other players. (I even purchased a bunch of colored wax and parchment to do rubbings.)


So, in short, if you're not too excited about playing, it's not always a problem with the group (in my case, they all seem happy to dungeon crawl) ... it could be a matter of your own attitude!
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2001, 02:07:00 PM »

Hey Zak,

About seven years ago, I sat in on a friend's Warhammer game. I took over one of their NPCs (a grotesquely combat-effective elf dude), and found myself adopting precisely your tactics of play.

I decided to make him an outrageous fop ("Hit it? I just had my nails done!"); being deadly made it even more fun.

Best,
Ron
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2001, 09:33:00 PM »

Ha, I did the exact same thing with my most recent D&D outing.  Resigned to the fact that I had to play it, I designed a foppish rapier-wielding fighter.  I proceeded to spend all my Skill Points in cross-class abilities - all social based (Bluff, Diplomacy, etc).  Charisma was my high Attribute, and Strength my lowest.

On more than one occasion I entered a fray dressed only in my silk pajamas, complete with night cap with the goofy little ball-thing hanging off its tip.  :smile:

Is there such a thing as Anti-Munchkinism, where you feel obliged to brag about your totally incompetent characters?  If so, I suffer from it.
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Clay
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2001, 09:14:00 AM »

I don't know if there's an anti-munchkin, but I do know that playing characters that you don't intend to survive the session can be a lot of fun.  I did this about six months ago, when I sat in on a regular D&D game as a visitor.  Not caring if the character survived allowed me the exact same freedom that others here have mentioned.  

The character's presence was very memorable, which I found amusing since I can't remember any of the other characters.  One player, whom I didn't know before the session and hadn't seen since, commented on the character when I saw him three or four months after the session.  The DM may have been permanently traumatized by the event, since I persisted in doing exactly what he didn't expect (who expects the thief to charge the large and very hideous monster, or set fire to the manor house that any other respectable thief would have looted).
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Clay Dowling
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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2001, 10:08:00 AM »

It looks like it's a pretty common thread among us (like-minded ?) folks.  I wonder if there's a new RPG to be had in the mindset ...

a) Gamist/Simulationist Dungeon Crawl
b) Quick Character Creation
c) Emphasize Expendability for Characters
d) Also emphasize LOVE for Characters

Okay, I'm on it.  I'll call it Anachronism, unless someone comes up with a better term.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2001, 11:27:00 AM »

I'll chime in with my "me too". About a year ago I got involved in a game of D&D2E with a group that was decidedly gamist, but with a GM that I knew was very creative. My friend Dave and I looked at our options and saw that we had in our youth done just about everything. So we talked and decided to come up with some sort of coherent background and then tack classes on top.

After a minute or two of disscuson, we decided to be slavers. I'm not sure how we came to that conclusion, but we went with it. Dave took a fighter specialized in using the mancatcher and club. I took a MU with all spells like charm person and sleep. We met up with the other first and second level characters outside of a dungeon they had already crawled half way through. They were preparing for yet another foray into its depths and we asked what kinds of denizens they had come across. When they responded kobolds a gleam that the other players didn't understand came into both my and Dave's eyes. We asked if we could join the expedition.

The other players demanded to know what classes we were. I refused to just present such OOC info, and instead just described my character. They couldn't decide if I was a MU or thief, but finally settled on MU as I had no armor (or weapons for that matter). They peggged Dave as a fighter right away. Then they asked what we wanted for coming along. A share of the treasure perhaps? Dave and I quickly consulted, and replied that they could keep all the treasure if we could keep any live kobolds that we came across. Perplexed, the group aceeded to our request and we entered the dungeon.

What proceeded next was amongst the funniest RPG sessions that I have ever engaged in. There being very little in the way of rules for setting up net traps and the like, the GM just winged it. Much hilarity was had as my character and Dave's kept having to stop the party from killing incapacitated or netted kobolds, much to the consternation of the other party members. By the time we were done, through ingenuity far beyond our putative levels, we had managed to wrangle some 35 kobolds or so.

At one point I asked Dave, "Who do you sell kobolds to anyway?"

Dave responded wryly, "Huh, hadn't thought about it. An Evil Overlord?"

I perked up and came back, "No, wait. WE could be Evil Overlords!"

Had to be there, I'm sure, but the tone of the conversation got the whole room laughing. Very Laurel and Hardy. Of course the problem is that we were really lambasting the differences in the style of play we were currently playing, and that which we really preferred to. The cliche dungeon crawl was just too easy to poke fun at. While we had fun with that session, we felt that it would just make sense for those characters to never return, and we haven't played in that game since. I think that it's more fun to speculate on their return that to actually try and do it.

And there is just something wrong about trying to break the system by acting "beyond our level". Which is what we were really doing. We were intentionally being disingenuous and not playing along with the gamist intent. Heck we didn't even care if we got EXP as long as we could find a buyer for the kobolds. Or become Evil Overlords...

Mike Holmes
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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2001, 12:15:00 PM »

There's a lot of charm that comes with playing outside the box, I think.  I have to keep from laughing out loud at work, reading these stories you're posting.

Reminds me of another D&D story.  _Severe_ Dungeon Crawl (to the point where the DM was just saying, there's a door, and when we'd opened it he'd pick a random room from the module ... it's the LAST time I was ever suckered into a "blind-date" game at a hobby shop).  I figured on playing a Samurai (yeah, worry about class later, so I was really playing a Fighter with funky armor).

So my cultured Samurai is observing all these barbarians busting open doors and killing monsters.  So he decides to assimilate a little, busts open the door, and kills a werewolf.  The werewolf loses its wolfness and turns into a teenage boy.  Appalled and disgusted at such a shameful act, the Samurai decides to disembowel himself right there on the spot. And he would've done it too, if it weren't for the other players freaking out and casting Hold Persons and such.




Anyhow, it looks like there's a lot of fun to be had going into a Dungeon Crawl with a contrary mindset.  Thing is, I'm wondering if it only works to have a serious group to play off of.  I'm really trying to come up with a game to wrap around this idea, where everyone can have a hand at making the laughs.

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[ This Message was edited by: Zak Arntson on 2001-06-01 16:16 ]
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greyorm
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2001, 02:42:00 PM »

Interesting...

I just offed a character in our regular 3E group, and nearly killed the rest of them -- well, truth be told they did it to themselves "You all have around 2 hitpoints and you're charging the nine-foot, armored, nasty looking goblin that wants you dead?  Who's on higher ground?  Ummmmm...aaaaalright!"

So with their main characters either dead or unconscious, two of the players took my suggestion to play bit parts...a couple of lowly royal guards, "1st level, scimitars and chain mail, standard fighter stats, give 'em a name."

Within five minutes of the start, one had been killed, crushed under a rowboat-sized gemstone they pried from its perch at the command of the royal princess (a PC).
The other had broken his leg in the same attempt...BUT both players were having a roaring good time with these two "nobodies" and the players both got INTO the roles.
There was no real personal attachment, either, but very good role-playing and an honesty about the characters that wasn't available, or less available, with their normal PCs.

Do too many gamers try TOO HARD with their regular PCs?  Invest too much into them for the characters to be actually usable as interesting, game-moving characters (because of the personal investment)?

I sometimes feel that players create characters they don't want anything to happen to...because they're too important to the player personally...like a work of art?
I wonder if that attitude of attachment is beneficial or baneful to good role-playing?

Comments?
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2001, 04:42:00 PM »

Hey Raven,

I sometimes feel that players create characters they don't want anything to happen to...because they're too important to the player personally...like a work of art?

I think this is definitely true. And I know I'm guilty of it. I think the players' cautious handling of the phone argument and the medieval hallucination that I describe in the Theatrix in Action thread is an example. It comes from an RPG tradition of a player creating a character and a background for that character, and then wanting to play the character he wrote. Drama like the the phone argument and the medieval hallucination could change the whole nature of the character as perceived by the player, and he doesn't want that. He wants to play the character as written. It's half of the Mexican standoff within traditional RPG gameplay, where the GM controls the world, but only the world, and the player has absolute and inviolate control of the guy, but only the guy.

And I'm sure I would have reacted with just as much fear of drama to that phone conversation sequence as my friend did.

We've talked a lot about how the Narrativist game delivers some of the GM's traditional power over the game world to the players, but not a lot about how players also need to learn how to let their characters be affected by the game. It's one of the reasons I'm excited about playing Soap with my group tomorrow (since I think it'll be good training) and about having players create sketchy characters for the Prince Valiant scenario I've been working on.

Paul
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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2001, 04:53:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-06-01 18:42, greyorm wrote:

I wonder if that attitude of attachment is beneficial or baneful to good role-playing?


I think it's the STYLE of attachment.  I love my effete archaeologist, but I've come to terms with the fact that he will die.  I'm pretty amazed he didn't with the last encounter ...


"You open the door to reveal a room with five sarcophagi."
"I rush in and enthusiastically examine the first one!  Does it possess any historical signifigance?"
"Nope."
"Oh, I touched it, by the way."
"What?"
"I was examining it thoroughly, so I wanted to let you know that I touched it."
"You sure?"


Somehow he managed to survive being at 1/2 hit points and surrounded by skeletons that take 1/2 damage from a rapier and main gouche (well, it's a short sword but I insist on calling it a main gouche).

So ... encouraging an attachment to an already dead character is the way to go.  Note that Call of Cthulhu works best when you realize that your Investigator is going to be insane or dead before the night's over.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2001, 06:07:00 PM »

Right on Zak, with the Cthulhu comment. I've had players ruin CoC scenarios by playing them like careful dungeon crawls. Even before they had encountered anything paranormal! Yikes. The best is when players blythely go into the basement alone to investigate that strange sound. The discovery of the body later is such a delight.

I once had a player who was making a Paranoia charater for the first time complain that he felt that the character didn't have enough background. Fortunately that game is so well designed that he was broken of that problem in about fifteen minutes.

Something to think about in design; methods to keep player investment in character at a beneficial level.

Mike Holmes
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2001, 07:57:00 PM »

Quote
Right on Zak, with the Cthulhu comment. I've had players ruin CoC scenarios by playing them like careful dungeon crawls. Even before they had encountered anything paranormal! Yikes. The best is when players blythely go into the basement alone to investigate that strange sound. The discovery of the body later is such a delight.


CoC fosters the "dungeon crawl" environment with an emphasis on skills that are meant to keep your character alive...no wonder the players are so cautious?  I'd love to see CoC re-written as a Narrativist system that tackles the issues that HPL wrote about.
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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2001, 10:23:00 PM »

Quote


CoC fosters the "dungeon crawl" environment with an emphasis on skills that are meant to keep your character alive...no wonder the players are so cautious?  I'd love to see CoC re-written as a Narrativist system that tackles the issues that HPL wrote about.



I accept your challenge!  Okay, so I wrote a game tentatively titled Chthonian, where character creation takes about 2 seconds, and its very Narrative.

I posted a link up in the Game Design area, and I'll put it up here, too:
http://zaknet.tripod.com/hmouse/
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