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[D&D]Balance killed my game

Started by Patrice, July 23, 2009, 09:35:39 AM

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There's one very interesting issue here. You tell me that, if I make the choices even, what I get is aimed at another goal than designing an optimal (whether build-based or situation-based) for winning. That's very true, I get color, I get background, I get flavor, I buy some limitations to carve my character's ways in a more specific way, a way that has no real consequence as far as the mechanics are concerned. This all screams of Creative Agenda-related issues!

More and more contributors here brought the same idea: choices are even and that's cool because it helps me to flesh out my character in what's specific to her peculiar style, to make her lively and special. Doesn't that ring a bell? This is Right to Dream logics! And what do you dream about? About your character facing challenges in a gaming fantasy setting. Do you actually really face the challenges in order to win? No.

This is looping back to D&D history. This is "let's dream we're playing D&D".

Of course, drifting it allows great content (look at your other Right to Dream Eberron/Shadowrun example) and even allows to push back winning logics inside as Guy explained it, with all the cool Stalker0 examples. Yes, I can find a way to design meaningful win-lose challenges in D&D4, I did it for some materials but eventually, I'm playing a game that readily supports another CA than mine. Your ideas to drift it with bare-bone simple mechanics is another track, taking the challenge back into the game with simple tactical frames. This is a great idea, which, as far as I'm concerned, is much akin to all the retro-clones I was highlighting. It's much easier to do this with, say, Swords & Wizardry White Box, than with D&D4 monty haul of rules.

So to get back to what Callan brought, its duration as far as win-lose is concerned is pretty short. There comes the Dream thing that might allow another extend. Waw, Eberron/Shadowrun and Ocean's Eleven! For how long? Or rather, for how many products?

Callan S.

QuoteThis is Right to Dream logics! And what do you dream about? About your character facing challenges in a gaming fantasy setting. Do you actually really face the challenges in order to win? No.
Oh yeah, I see alot of that! Having more complexity so as to dream more richly, rather than to directly face a challenge.
Philosopher Gamer


I didn't really mean it that way Callan, I was saying that if the choice tree is expanded with strategically equivalent options to accommodate more "right to dream" stuff, then the strategic complexity is not as great as it first appears. So it can be solved by squishing equivalent choices together, and adding on new rules dynamics that make the choices mean more. In slightly more abstract language, you add an extra dimension to the strategy space, by attaching it to the unused degree of freedom we have observed in the rules set. And this additional level of strategic choice should not be a general and front-loaded one; "Pick your eye colour as green or you get half hitpoints" but which is attached to the various situations that the characters approach, such as ways of making spatial orientation more relevant, using the information already supplied by 4e's focus on a visible board.

That's the kind of thing I'm getting at, plugging consequence into the choice system in a responsive way. One of the reasons I picked Ebberron was for the density of plot based manoeuvring that can easily go on considering all the various groups, lots of different elements of what you do will mean something to some group, and so are imbued with tactical significance. I suppose another example setting might be over the edge, although I haven't played that, just because settings with that much density of moving structures are often easier to turn into whirling puzzles of incredible complexity, possibly to the point where you loose track of it, but mainly because you can be fairly confident players can manoeuvre themselves out of your more absurd traps, because they can use those interactions too.

One day, my game will actually do all that, until then I'm hacking whatever I can find to create rule support for it!

Callan S.

I think if your attaching things more directly to some overall win condition, yeah, that fits. But if your trying to add tactical significance or meaning or consequences kind of as if they exist outside of win conditions, it's all just adding to the dream of tactical significance, meaning and consequences. What is tactically significant or meaningful is shown by whether you win or who wins - you might think somethings meaningful all game, only to find it pointless at the end in relation to winning. If you don't have a win condition to dispell that idea of meaningfulness...BING, there you go, the dream cannot be dispelled. That's dream support.

Philosopher Gamer