The Paladin and the Stirges

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  1. #1

    The Paladin and the Stirges

    Note: updated below

    In the DDXP NDA-limited play reports, there was one scenario that stood out for attention:
    That same Paladin had previously charged a room full of stirges, and become close to death by blood loss, necessitating a several week recovery time back at the Keep.
    Turns out that was all just something one DM thought would be a great idea and not at all part of the 5e system they were playtesting:
    Since I’ve seen a lot of comments about this elsewhere, the whole thing with the several week recovery time from stirge blood loss was a call I made at the time at the table, not a rule that’s necessarily in the game. I also just handwaved the several weeks, so it’s not like the paladin’s player had to sit out the rest of the game while everybody else adventured.

    Basically, it was part of that whole “DM empowerment” thing I was talking about, where I made a rules call that I felt made the most sense for the table at the time, and even gave the players some options on how they wanted to continue.
    This makes a lot of the "system reports" we're seeing seem rather questionable, if that much detail is left up to the individual DMs at the 5e playtest tables. We may not actually be seeing any real rules at all, but just whatever a non-WotC DM like Dave Chalker sounded good at the time.

    Like, for example, in one description of play, we learn that if it's a DC 13 to bust down a door, and you have a 15 Strength, the door opens without a rule. But is this an actual rule from 5e, or is it just that the DM at that particular was tired of asking for die rolls, and said "well, it's normally a DC 13, what's your Strength? eh, seems high enough, don't bother."

    It makes it harder for those of us who are trying to discern what the 5e rules are -- like blind men feeling an elephant -- if we're not even actually dealing with 5e rules in what we're reading.

    I think WotC made a bad choice in how they're handling the NDA and playtest issue. It seems they'd do better with either a more open playtest with open discussion, or a more closed NDA that prohibits random bloggers from dribbling out pieces that might color the expectations for the game.

    The way they're doing it now just feels like a PR nightmare -- I've seen threads go on for dozens on pages based on the idea that the "paladin vs. stirge" scenario represented the 5e rules, when it doesn't seem to represent anything other than one particular DM's whim of the moment.

    UPDATE: I want to add an apology to Dave Chalker for the tone of this post, which might be interpreted as an attack on him. It's not meant as such -- I don't fault for anything he did at his game table or wrote at his blog. I have different opinions from many on the strategy that WotC is using to release information, but my phrase "PR nightmare" -- which I should have stated in a less inflammatory manner, such as "PR gaffe" -- is not meant as a description of anything Dave himself did or is responsible for.

    I'm sorry, Dave.
    Last edited by Kynn; Monday, 6th February, 2012 at 06:36 PM.


  • #2
    While I liked the idea of that being within the rules, I do appreciate you pointing it out. Thanks!
    As always, play what you like

  • #3
    That is interesting, in a good way.

    For the game to accomplish its goal of appealing to everyone it'll have to be pretty amorphous (and thus hard to glean much about). It's also good that something could put a paladin out of comission for a few weeks. And good that the DM handwaved it instead of them changing the rules so this couldn't happen.
    "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose"

  • #4
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    I think all the hysteria about stuff like this is a bit overblown. So some stirges caused debilitating injuries at that guy's table, so what?

    It doesn't mean that has to be the case your game regardless of its appearance in the rules. Your game belongs to you and I'm happy WOTC is starting to encourage that more.
    Death is for amateurs -Charlie Sheen

  • #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kynn View Post
    I think WotC made a bad choice in how they're handling the NDA and playtest issue.
    I think enthusiasts made a bad choice in treating NDA breeches as dependable information. I also don't really think we need a whole lot of information until there's something to show; and given the amount of hand-waving going on in the initial playtests, that ain't a whole lot right now.

    I'd rather see the system when it has gelled a little bit, and we can have a bit more meaningful critique of it.

    EDIT: It appears I'm wrong about breaking the NDA, and whatnot, and all this hullabaloo is due to trying the honor the NDA while sharing as much as possible. I apologize for the insinuation.
    Last edited by Halivar; Monday, 6th February, 2012 at 03:46 PM.

    My D&D Class:
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  • #6
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    From what I understood from the NDA I signed, cool stories talking about my game were OK, but talking about actual rules was not. I wanted to talk about my experiences running D&D at DDXP, so I told some cool stories about my game. One of them happened to include a case where I made a call at the table where I wasn't sure of the actual rule (like many things in the playtest, not every rule is clear) so I made a call to keep the game moving in a way I thought best for the table, as you do with convention games.

    Was it a mistake to write about it? Apparently yes, since I didn't expect that a potential rules interpretation of that one line would cause people to do things like "vomit in my mouth" as I've read in other forums. Would I take that line out had I known? Sure. Have I learned my lesson that trying to talk about fun games that I ran in this current situation is a bad idea? Definitely. Am I looking forward to the open playtest when players can judge for themselves? I specifically write about that in the article you quote.

    I just feel it's strange when talking about how much I enjoyed running it and telling some cool stories from it constitues a "PR nightmare."
    Dave Chalker, Editor in Chief of, Freelance Game Developer.

  • #7
    I'll be brief here, Dave. You're right and the haters are wrong.

    Parenthetically, photostat copies of the manuscript rules were made, and when the commercial game was published, fans not willing or financially unable to expend the princely sum of $10 for the product did likewise, copying the material on school (mainly college/university) machines. We were well aware of this, and many gamers who had spent their hard-earned money to buy the game were more irate than we were. In all, though, the 'pirate' material was more helpful that not. Many new fans were made by DMs who were using such copies to run their games. - Gary Gygax

  • #8
    *yawn* People overreacted and clearly that's the fault of the blogger and not, you know, the people who overreacted? Give me a break. Wake me up when we have something interesting to discuss.

  • #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedungeondelver View Post
    I'll be brief here, Dave. You're right and the haters are wrong.
    Thanks, I appreciate that.

    BTW, my comments thread on that post has been open, I was willing to clear anything up about my impressions
    Dave Chalker, Editor in Chief of, Freelance Game Developer.

  • #10
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    So let me get this straight:

    People are whining that Dave said that after the fight with the stirges, in which the paladin got damaged, he said (and I am paraphrasing, as I wasn't there and don't know anybody who played in that game) "OK, the stirges also did some other damage, and it will take a couple of weeks to recover." pauses "OK, the couple of weeks has passed, what are you guys doing?"

    I am guessing that the total time it took for it to play out was about 3 or 4 seconds. Total.

    And that results in a "PR nightmare"? Really? Seems more like "good DMing", "making things interesting" and "adding flavour" to me.

    Complaints like this is why we don't get nice stuff. Instead of saluting Dave for taking what could have been nothing and adding a little bit extra to make it interesting (and, at the same time, not punishing any players by way of interesting things happening), we get complaints like this "PR nightmare".

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