Why are we okay with violence in RPGs? - Page 23
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  1. #221
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    since the game appeared in 1974, well within living memory, it clearly came first. Of course, it was preceded by Chainmail & other wargames, which carried with them an expectation of being combat simulators - but, for the most part, that wasn't /our expectations/ as Roleplayers, because we didn't exist as a community until after D&D came on the scene.
    But they were basing their initial design on things that already existed. One was Chainmail and other wargames, but the other was genre. Lieber and Howard and Tolkien and Vance and Lovecraft and so on. The game was designed with those stories in mind...so rules for fighting were definitely necessary because those stories all included fighting, or the possibility of it, at least.

    So the stories influenced the game design, and then the game design influenced the stories players told with their game.

    So why is a specific game so combat heavy? Because Gary designed the rules that way? Or because of the genre the rules are meant to reproduce?

    I feel like it has to be a bit of both.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    There are reasons a game /could/ be more focused on combat, like it's a combat simulator, or the stakes of combat are life-and-death or combat is always there as a last resort - negotiations break down, exploration triggers hostility, whatever. But no reasons it must or should be, and reasons it might not be: combat could be out of the scope of the genre, or instance, or a (comparatively) minor part of it. In a murder mystery genre, for instance, violence is actually pretty rare, overall in what would correspond to play - there's /a/ murder, which is viewed as a terrible thing, but generally happens 'off stage,' anyway, and the murderer rarely fights his accusers (more often confesses, gives up, flees or dies trying), and it'd be an odd twist if he got away with it by resorting to violence.
    A murder mystery is a great example of a genre that wouldnt really require combat mechanics. There are others, as well, but even within genres wed typically think must have them, there may not always be a need. Im thinking of fiction where most of the action occurs offscreen. Or where its minimal. Something like The Wire, lets say. Five seasons of cops and drug dealers, and there are very few gunfights. Rome had almost all of the warfare take place offscreen, although it did show more small scale fights.

    These shows were still very compelling. I dont know if theres any reason that a RPG couldnt replicate such fiction.

  2. #222
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post
    the other was genre. Lieber and Howard and Tolkien and Vance and Lovecraft and so on. The game was designed with those stories in mind...
    IDK, I feel like there'd be a lot more rules for walking around, building fires in the snow, and Expositon, Joel, EX-PO-SITION ... We're Tolkien really a lot more than a cosmetic inspiration. Likewise, Lovecraftean influence would have meant more insanity, less combat. Lieber? You'd need some exhaustive rules for the *ahem* interaction /pillar/...

  3. #223
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    In 1e an ancient red dragon was worth 7758, or 1939 xp each for a party of 4. An ancient red dragon can easily have 250,000gp worth of treasure, not including magic items. That equates to 62,500 xp each for that party of 4. Gaining the treasure is 32 times more xp than killing it, and you get that same exp if you steal the treasure rather than fight the dragon.

    D&D was originally concieved as a get the loot game where you sometimes had to fight, but really tried to avoid it when possible so you didn't end up dead.
    Now, how exactly did you manage to get that couple of tons of treasure out of the lair without fighting the dragon?

    Again, why did folks avoid combat when the PC's after about 6th level were FAR more powerful than anything they were facing? And Ancient Huge Red Dragon had 92 HP (IIRC). That was about 1 round of damage output for a 9th level party of 6-9 PC's.

  4. #224
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    I'm just blown away by folks that want to paint early D&D as anything other than a hack and slash wargame with a thin veneer of story laid over top. 99% of the rules were related to combat. Virtually everything your character got was either directly related to combat, or as a result of combat. This shouldn't be terribly contentious. This is D&D after all. Y'know, back to the dungeon, the mega dungeon, dungeon crawling, that sort of thing? I mean, good grief, look at most modules published up until about 1982, which is a pile of them - they're pretty much nothing but hack fest dungeon crawls.
    And that's what makes them great!
    XP Hussar gave XP for this post

  5. #225
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Now, how exactly did you manage to get that couple of tons of treasure out of the lair without fighting the dragon?

    Again, why did folks avoid combat when the PC's after about 6th level were FAR more powerful than anything they were facing? And Ancient Huge Red Dragon had 92 HP (IIRC). That was about 1 round of damage output for a 9th level party of 6-9 PC's.
    If they won initiative.

    But if they lost they'd be eating a 92-point blast of fire (46-point on a made save), with potential subsequent item losses on failing the initial save, when the dragon breathed on them before they got to act. Chances are that'd turn the 6-9 character party into a 3-7 character party, with each of the remaining characters down a bunch of h.p. and possibly down some items as well. That evens the odds a bit...

    Not every party would want to risk getting hammered that hard, and so would look for ways to somehow lure the dragon away from its lair or somehow else make that treasure accessible without a direct confrontation.

  6. #226
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    If they won initiative.

    But if they lost they'd be eating a 92-point blast of fire (46-point on a made save), with potential subsequent item losses on failing the initial save, when the dragon breathed on them before they got to act. Chances are that'd turn the 6-9 character party into a 3-7 character party, with each of the remaining characters down a bunch of h.p. and possibly down some items as well. That evens the odds a bit...

    Not every party would want to risk getting hammered that hard, and so would look for ways to somehow lure the dragon away from its lair or somehow else make that treasure accessible without a direct confrontation.
    Meh, the dragon had a non-zero chance of being asleep when you got there. And, again, given that level of a party, you've got so much fire protection that the breath weapon is a joke. And, let's not forget, we're cherry picking the biggest non-unique monster in the 1e monster manual here. Most other monsters were nowhere near this dangerous. There's a pile of variables here. My point is, by and large, most groups are going to steamroll most encounters. Why did people feel the need to avoid combat?

    I dunno, then again, we left AD&D as soon as 2e came out and 2e was even worse - fighters really were damage gods.

    As I said, I'm always left rather surprised that folks worried about this sort of thing. It was so easy to curb stomp monsters in AD&D. The only real danger came from the plethora of save or die effects. Combat? A 9th level AD&D party could face multiple dragons and come out on top.

  7. #227
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Now, how exactly did you manage to get that couple of tons of treasure out of the lair without fighting the dragon?
    A bag of holding or four. It's not as if most of that didn't come from gems, jewelry and platinum anyway. One of the largest bags of holding could hold 150k of the 250k with 1000 pounds left over.

    Again, why did folks avoid combat when the PC's after about 6th level were FAR more powerful than anything they were facing?
    Death? Energy Drain? Save or die sucked and was all over the place with poison, and energy drain was hell. It had no save and you never got back all of your experience, even if you were lucky enough to be drained within a day of someone who could cast restoration. And you started encountering a lot of energy drain undead well before the party could cast restoration itself, assuming your cleric wasn't also drained.

    And Ancient Huge Red Dragon had 92 HP (IIRC). That was about 1 round of damage output for a 9th level party of 6-9 PC's.
    Sure, if it just hung out on the ground ready to duke it out. Played intelligently, that dragon would destroy a 9th level party. I also like how you made it a party of 6-9 NPCs, rather than the typical 4. Double the party size and you double the monsters. So 8 PCs against a pair or three of ancient red dragons.

  8. #228
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Meh, the dragon had a non-zero chance of being asleep when you got there. And, again, given that level of a party, you've got so much fire protection that the breath weapon is a joke. And, let's not forget, we're cherry picking the biggest non-unique monster in the 1e monster manual here. Most other monsters were nowhere near this dangerous.
    And worth nowhere as much XP. I went with ancient red dragon to illustrate just how piddly combat XP was. Especially vs. XP from treasure.

    My point is, by and large, most groups are going to steamroll most encounters. Why did people feel the need to avoid combat?
    You played with a generous DM, or perhaps one who didn't know how to run monsters. If the DM wasn't worried about killing you and used tactics that many of the monsters would know and use, combats were not easy, especially when you factored in save or die and energy drains.

    I dunno, then again, we left AD&D as soon as 2e came out and 2e was even worse - fighters really were damage gods.

    It was so easy to curb stomp monsters in AD&D. The only real danger came from the plethora of save or die effects. Combat?
    Those are mutually exclusive statements.

  9. #229
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    I think it depends on defining what you want the end goal to be in a social encounter, in fact it has to be really.
    Doing this in a concrete way requires a bit of preparation of the sort people generally don't do.

    You have to define the Duke as a social character. The 'Seven Sentence NPC' article in Dragon #184 is still in my opinion the definitive starting place for this. You then need to define the basics of the social challenge, essentially setting the Difficulty, the various obvious modifiers that might result from doing or saying things the Duke likes or dislikes, and defining before hand what partial success or success with complications looks like and under what circumstances such outcomes apply. These sort of challenges if well constructed have the sort of details we might otherwise lavish on traps or monsters. Social focused challenges can be really cool, if you have the right group of players, but they do take a bit of work and/or some experience to run them well. You don't necessarily need a ton of complicated mechanics and most systems - even 1e AD&D with its loyalty checks or a modified version of a common ruling like 'roll below an ability score' - usually have enough of a system to adopt to this sort of thing, but you do need some sort of tangible social reality you are describing.

    But if we borrow FATE...
    I'm really not a fan of FATE, and the only part of FATE that I'd ever advise anyone to borrow is less its system than the description it provides for outlining in some concrete way the elements of the game and challenges. The system itself leaves me cold for a ton of reasons, but it does in its advice to the GM push you toward good preparation to play. Unfortunately, I really think too often this good foundation is ignored and at most people attempting to play the game do no more than a rough draft and build nothing on it, thinking that they can get away with little or no preparation. Based on what I've seen from play run by even the designer of the system, this is not a great idea.

  10. #230
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    And worth nowhere as much XP. I went with ancient red dragon to illustrate just how piddly combat XP was. Especially vs. XP from treasure.
    Depending on the style of treasure allocation, XP from combat tended to be between 1/3rd and 1/10th as much as the XP from treasure.

    You played with a generous DM, or perhaps one who didn't know how to run monsters. If the DM wasn't worried about killing you and used tactics that many of the monsters would know and use, combats were not easy, especially when you factored in save or die and energy drains.
    The question I have for that statement is, "Is relying on Save or Die or Energy Drains to challenge PCs fun?"

    I dunno, then again, we left AD&D as soon as 2e came out and 2e was even worse - fighters really were damage gods.
    The problem started in 1e Unearthed Arcana. Fighters post UA were dishing about twice as much damage at a given level as the game had been built around, but even before UA AD&D had a problem that almost everything in the game was a glass cannon capable of dishing out far more damage than it could take. I used to joke that the initiative roll was the mid-game of AD&D combat, and that round 1 was the end game. Any monster that went last in the round would never get an attack off.

    Still there are a variety of things you could do about that. The most important is to not put your fights in 'tournament spaces'. Instead of arenas with flat floors, you put the fight where the PCs are at a disadvantage of some sort. And you use the sort of monsters that can actually manage to challenge PCs. You can also tweak monsters from the MM's a bit and end up with good challenges, which works well in any edition. For example, taking a standard Ogre and giving it better than normal equipment like plate mail and a two-handed sword can on its own make an encounter much more challenging. I wrote a short guide.

    I left AD&D in the early 90's, frustrated by the amount of rules and changes that I felt at the time I'd need to make to get the game to work. In many ways, it's a terrible game. In many ways it's brilliant. I get occasionally struck by nostalgia for the game, and want to run it with the knowledge I've accumulated since the time I left it.

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