Wednesday, 29th August, 2012, 01:26 AM #1091
In classic D&D, I give out XP as per the XP rules: monsters and treasure.
In 4e, I give out XP as per the XP rules: encounters (both combat and non-combat), "roleplaying" (as per the DMG 2, one monster's worth for every 15 minutes of free roleplaying that drives the game forward), and quests.
In Rolemaster, I started out using the RM rules - where XP are awarded for a range of activities that could be described as "hard training in the field" - but then moved to a variant of goal-based XP based on HARP's XP rules.
I would expect D&Dnext to have XP options reflecting a range of traditional approaches, both simulationist (RM, and to some extent 2nd ed AD&D, I think) and metagame (classic D&D, 4e, and HARP). And when it comes to metagame XP, I would expect a variety of metagame options to be canvassed, given the very different metagame rationales behind (for example) classic D&D and 4e.
Tunnels and Trolls: damage is rated numerically, and comes directly off CON;
Rolemaster/MERP/HARP: damage is rated in concussion hits, which are "meat" (bruising and blood loss), and in numerical penalties (eg -10 to all actions) and disabilities (eg blinded) of various sorts;
RuneQuest: damage is rated numerically, comes of hit points, which are "meat", and hit point loss leads to both numerical penalties and disabilities (eg maimed) of various sorts;
Burning Wheel: damage is rated on a scale, and the scale determines a numerical penalty (eg -1D to all actions) which in turn, as part of the healng mechanics, can lead to disabilities (eg maimed) of various sorts;
Traveller: damage is rated numerically, and comes directly off physical stats.
Hit points are not at all ingrained in how I think about RPGs. In fact, I see them as pretty distinctive to D&D.
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Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
ø Ignore Ahnehnois
I would debate that any of those, or any non-D&D rpg is "well-known", or has a comparable influence in how rpg players think about game design.Here are some well-known RPGs that don't use D&D-style hit points:
Rolemaster, RuneQuest and other purist-for-system mechanics presumably count as "associated" - they are definitely not metagame - but they don't have this feature. There is no "low stress" option in Rolemaster, for example - you have to choose a split between attack and defence every round - and in Runequest you don't have to choose, but every round is a gamble on your parry working or not.
So do you think the phenomenon that you describe is a combination of "association" plus a high level of abstraction? Which perhaps correlates to @Crazy Jerome 's "comfortable slippers" metaphor?
Traveller probably remains the best selling and most influential of all sci-fi RPGs.
RuneQuest is one of the three most influential RPGs of all time (D&D and Champions being the other two).
Tunnels & Trolls was, at one time (late 70s) a signicant rival to D&D - enough to seriously irritate Gygax. And during the 80s, ICE (publisher of Rolemaster and MERP) was the second-biggest RPG company after TSR, on the strength of its Middle Earth licence.
And Burning Wheel is, I would guess, the best-known of contemporary indie fantasy RPGs.
Whether or not these games influence how players think about game design, I can guarantee that they all influence how RPG designers think about game design. (Monte Cook, for example, and just to give one well-known example, first entered the industry as a designer for Rolemaster.)
If these games aren't allowed to count, then I guess hit points are inherent to RPGs. But I hadn't realised that "is inherent to RPGs" is to be treated as equivalent to "is inherent to D&D" on the grounds that no other RPGs count!
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
- Join Date
- Aug 2004
ø Ignore Hussar
Which seems to be the basic message of this entire line of discussion. A dissociated mechanic is only a bad thing if it came from 4e. Otherwise, we'll bend over backwards to do any mental gymnastics required to make this mechanic (whatever it is) acceptable to us. It's unbelievable.
The rules don't give the DM their authority. The consent of the players does. - Mallus
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- the south, the deep south
ø Ignore Dour-n-Taciturn
So much for uniting the base. Honestly, we accept hit points and many peculiar mechanics mostly due to tradition. Disassociation is being wielded like a bludgeon; such a highly subjective concept bandied about as a solid basis for core rules. People are going to have to compromise, but they won't, oh no, you see, I'm right, okay, no really, you don't understand anything about anything...
I am part of the small crew here reserving judgment. There is a long way to go and a lot of feedback to be incorporated before the final result is in. Can we all just get along? Naaaa.
Superhero (Lvl 15)
- Join Date
- Jan 2002
ø Ignore LostSoul
I think you describe a very valid concern. It's hard to get everyone on the same page, and if someone has a privileged role in judgement that can spell problems. I've had my share of issues with this style of play in the past. However, that role can be powerful if used well.
I think I (as DM here) don't have many problems with fictional positioning influencing mechanical resolution because I take the view that we're all in this game together. I rarely say "No" flat-out; usually it's "I can't see that working; help me out here." When it comes to modifiers, I prefer to let the players add their own - because it's easier and I trust them - while everyone accepts the fact that I have final say.
We also get up and physically act things out if they are confusing, so that helps.
As for rewarding players for having the same world-physics model: I think that's true, but I think it's a powerful tool. It helps get people on the same page, imagining together. I also think that you have to be willing to give and change your perception of the world-physics model as either DM or player.
I think this is similar to the "don't be a dick" rule, but maybe it's a little more... nuanced. I think the game should make it clear that everyone is working at the same goal - an enjoyable experience - and everyone should keep that in mind while filling their roles and responsibilities.
I wonder if DMs who take on that role (that is, the responsibility to describe the details of abstract actions in a compelling way) suffer more burnout than those who don't.
"If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."
-- Ernest Hemingway, "A Farewell to Arms"
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The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
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- Aug 2007
ø Ignore Crazy Jerome
So initially, I'm not saying that every player in every action is producing BW-type compelling fiction. But we did gradually establish that responsibility for producing, well, "compelling color" for lack of a better phrase, would rotate amongst all the people at the table. If we have "compelling color", are joking around (in and out of character), having some fun scenes, roleplaying in and out of combat--then we get a bit of that "comfortable shoes" feeling, that often turns into something more--maybe not compelling fiction, but cheap read fantasy novel fiction. With all the other stuff packed in, that's often plenty going on.
I'm not dramatic enough or fond of 1st person narrative to drive compelling fiction by myself, with the characters only reacting. It's burnout every time I try it.
Last edited by Crazy Jerome; Wednesday, 29th August, 2012 at 04:18 AM.
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
- Join Date
- Aug 2007
ø Ignore Crazy Jerome
As for the rest, I'm disagreeing with your assessment of the centralness of hit points to the success and future success of D&D. If D&D survives, it will be because it kept hit points. All the 4E changes together are a drop in the bucket compared to what dropping hit points as the default health mechanism would do to the game. Obviously, we have very different views on this point.
I suspect that my game is low on the sorts of descriptions of the shared fiction that you are talking about - maybe closer to @Balesir 's, although it can be hard to get a sense of these things on a message board.
But for "compelling fiction" (by which I mean something closer to @Crazy Jerome 's "cheap novel") I have always relied on situation and stakes, with colour a contributor to that, but otherwise allowed to rise and fall as the mood takes the participants.
In Rolemaster and 4e combat, the mechanics go quite a way to making some of the stakes (the tactical stakes, if you like) evident. But I also rely on the embedding of the combat into the broader narrative of the game. (Pause to reiterate: nothing very high brow about the narrative in my game - very familiar, even hackneyed, fantasy tropes.) And in non-combat, where in both games the resolution system is mechanically much more abstracted from the action, the fictional embedding is the overwhelming source of and signaller of stakes. I think (or at least I hope) my various actual play posts and examples help convey the sort of thing I'm talking about here.
This is why the 4e DMG comment on the encounter with the gate guards didn't both me one bit - because it's advice I've been following for 20+ years of GMing in any event. I don't sweat over "mere colour" encounters (or "filler encounters" as they're often called when they involve combat): I like to handle these quickly and move on. And if an encounter with some guards evolves or escalates from mere colour to something more serious, I still won't be narrating the colour of their eyes or hair or cloaks, or (generally) putting on a distinctive voice. I'll be emphasising whatever it is that they're talking about that matters to the players, and establishes what is at stake that is making the encounter more than just a source of colour.
Anyway, this approach to GMing (which I really started to work out with Oriental Adventures back in 1986-87), probably helps explain why I find 4e supports rather than hinders my immersion with and engagement with the game.
It also means that, for me, the threat of burnout comes not from the pressure of keeping up the narration of colour, but rather from the pressure to keep up the framing and evolution of compelling situations. My first long-running RM campaign (1990-97) came to an ignoble end when even I, let alone the players, could no longer keep track of which NPC was doing what and why any of it mattered. Since then, though, I think I've become better at handling my side of things and keeping the players (via their PCs) fully engaged. Letting go a lot of (for my purposes) needless world building and associated world exposition/exploration has been one part of that.
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