Monte on Logic in RPGs




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    Monte on Logic in RPGs

    Monte Cook (one of the designers of D&D 3E, and until recently of D&D Next) has written a short essay on "Logic in RPGs" over on his journal, The Chapel Perilous. It largely deals with the concept of rules-heavy and rules-light systems ("rulings not rules") and the effects such systems have on gameplay, while clearly stating his preference for the latter. It's not a new theory by any stretch, but it goes some way to codifying it clearly.

    You can read the essay here.

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    He nailed it right down.
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    Thankfully he defined what he means by "logic" at one point, by which he basically means "whatever basis the DM and players want to use to drive their play experience."

    Also interesting that the D&D edition that most offends the principles in his post is 3E (IMO), the edition which he had a hand in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monte
    If this seems like a salvo in the so-called Edition Wars, let me assure you that it's not. It's a game design issue and it extends far beyond editions of any one particular game. I lament that there are now so many game design issues that one can't even discuss without them turning into Edition War name calling and finger pointing. In that regard, that detracts from, rather than adds to, the discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fifth Element View Post
    Also interesting that the D&D edition that most offends the principles in his post is 3E (IMO), the edition which he had a hand in.

    Two posts in. Not a record but close.
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    Reading this makes me even more curious as to why he left the 5e design team, as 5e is starting to look like it might need a bit of this kind of thinking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    Reading this makes me even more curious as to why he left the 5e design team, as 5e is starting to look like it might need a bit of this kind of thinking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark CMG View Post
    Two posts in. Not a record but close.
    Nice try, but not every comment about the good stuff/bad stuff in a particular edition is an attempt at an edition war. Guess which edition of the game I'm playing right now?

    And whether this was even a comment about bad stuff is a matter of opinion anyway, all I said was that it went against what he was talking about - if you disagree with his post you'd see that as a good thing, and I offered no comment on whether I agreed with his post in toto or not.

    Also, note that I only said it was "interesting". I didn't say it made his comments invalid or that he was a hypocrite or something stupid like that.

    So no, people can discuss various editions of the game without warring about it. But it's difficult, because there tends to be someone who will interpret it that way anyway.

    Back to the thread!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fifth Element View Post
    (snip)

    Rather than just discuss the content sans edition, you felt the need to put it in terms of edition despite that being the exact opposite of the sentiment in the blog.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fifth Element View Post
    Thankfully he defined what he means by "logic" at one point, by which he basically means "whatever basis the DM and players want to use to drive their play experience."

    Also interesting that the D&D edition that most offends the principles in his post is 3E (IMO), the edition which he had a hand in.
    Note that he does say there are games out there like that that are excellent. I'd say that's true. So maybe he doesn't want to work on games like that anymore. Does that justify the cheap shot?
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    This is a tricky question, because IMO it isn't as simple as "rules-heavy" versus "rules-light." A rules-light game can be an enormous burden on the GM who has to adjudicate everything on the fly, not to mention frustrating for players who have trouble figuring out what their PCs can do.

    I think a better way to view it is this: Every game has a GM who is capable of independent thought and judgement. This is a powerful resource. But it is also a finite resource; the GM only has so much time and mental energy to spend on adjudication. Therefore, it is the task of the game designer to build a system that uses the GM's talents to greatest effect. That means applying that resource in a focused, efficient way, in the places where it will yield the most benefit.

    In particular, the GM should not be called upon to arbitrate routine events. In a D&D-style heroic fantasy game, when a player swings an axe at an orc with intent to kill, no special circumstances in evidence, the rules should handle that without either GM or player having to do anything but work the numbers and roll the dice. It's when the player wants to backflip off a cliff, catch hold of a vine on the way down, swing across a chasm, swing her axe to knock over a stone idol on the far side, and then swing back before the falling idol hits the bottom, that the GM should get involved.

    But even then, a good system will provide both GM and players with a framework to build on. As others have pointed out, RPG players are very vulnerable to Hammer-Related Nail Observance Syndrome. If the rules tell you exactly how to whack an orc with an axe, and offer not so much as a hint on the backflip-vine-swing-idol-knock-swing-back maneuver, you won't see much of the latter.
    Last edited by Dausuul; Thursday, 7th June, 2012 at 05:21 PM.

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