A "Why Oh Why" RPG Thread [+]

niklinna

satisfied?
Chainsword-wielding wizard go!

It's got to be more than that. I've noticed the vehemence since long before the Internet as we know it was a Thing.
the-thing-1982-image-3.png
 

log in or register to remove this ad


In my interpretation, because that doesn't actually happen.

Even on an extremely simulationist view of the game world, the rules are only a simplified model of what the world actually is. It has to be!

I don't think D&D characters have any idea of their level. All they know is that they're getting better over time. Probably spellcasters know when they manage to cast a new level of spell, but that's about it. Levels, hit points, experience, and so on are just abstractions that let us handle the game world in bite-sized chunks.

I will admit there is one piece of evidence against my view, though, and that's level titles. If those were actually supposed to be used in play (I don't know anyone who did, except for the name levels) then levels would indeed be baked into the IC reality.
There's level titles; there's required training* to level-up; there's monks/mystics and druids who need to defeat existing high-level members of your class before raising to some of the upper-tier levels of each class. The last two I guess you could say are just messing with the causation (since, as an example, it would be fairly natural for someone to train with an expert to get better at a thing), but then you can say that the level title is just the kind of thing people start calling you when you get that good.
*Also one has to spend a lot more if you can't find a trainer of the right class and level.

Regardless, there's not a huge number of things that can't make sense if you just say that these are the things that would naturally coincide with getting better and ignore causation (a fighter starts to attract followers and might reasonably be able to build and hold a keep and fiefdom as they get more competent). But that will always run into acute little disconnects like not being able to figure out a water-breathing spell because you are one xp away from levelling, but a quick sidequest to a in-no-way-water-related dungeon somehow makes it all work (although you can always say they just needed to take their mind off it for a while, and then it would click).
 

Emoshin

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Why oh why don't player characters (and any NPCs close to them) discuss/analyze their special status as individuals who rapidly gain in supranormal abilities and fortitude coinciding with the start and end of a series of incidental activities (ie., adventures)?

I asked the AI and it had this to say...

It can be assumed that characters do not typically discuss or analyze their special status because it is a natural part of the world they inhabit. In most D&D settings, magic and other fantastical elements are commonplace, and it is accepted that individuals can gain supernatural abilities through training, experience, or exposure to magical forces. In addition, the characters' growth in power and abilities is often gradual and incremental, occurring over many adventures rather than all at once, which may make it less noticeable or remarkable to them.

Furthermore, within the context of the game, the focus is often on the adventure at hand and the challenges the characters face rather than on their own personal growth and development. This may leave little time or opportunity for characters to reflect on their abilities or to discuss them with others. Finally, as with many works of fiction, the characters in D&D are often written as archetypes or tropes, designed to fit certain roles within the story rather than as fully developed individuals with complex thoughts and feelings about their abilities.

Finally, it is ultimately up to the players and the Dungeon Master (DM) to decide how much they want to roleplay their characters' thoughts and feelings about their growing abilities, and such discussions may occur in some games or campaigns.

In other words, it sounds like the AI recommends that it is a naturally understood part of the fantasy world that certain individuals can show sudden bursts of incremental powers.
 

Why oh why are so many players so vehemently attached to alignment?

Because gaming is often a form of escapism, and we like to escape to a world with simpler, clearer rules. Specifically, many people dislike to spend much time in a world of moral relativism, so they like rules that make the world less focused on moral choices and more on action.

In other words, they want this:

GM: "You see a bat-winged creature fly towards you"
A: "I recall knowledge on it"
GM: "It is a desire demon. They are evil, fire-resistant and have mind-affecting powers"
A: "I cast lightening bolt at it"

and they don't want:

GM: "You see a bat-winged creature fly towards you"
A: "I recall knowledge on it"
GM: "It is a desire demon. They are inhabitants of hell, are fire-resistant and have mind-affecting powers"
A: "I cast lightening bolt at it"
B: "Wait, it might not be bad, maybe we should talk to it?"
C: "Or it might be attacking us because it was brought up that way; we can't blame it for its parents' faults"

If you find fun in problem solving, tactical combat and system mastery (all the things D&D is designed for), an alignment system helps you get to the fun and avoid the things you don't want. If you really are more interested in a world where you explore moral questions, then rather than removing alignment from D&D and thus having no system support for what you want to do, maybe pick a game where exploring morality is part of the design?

When I play D&D style games, I use alignment. If I want a game to focus on morality and so on, I'll run Fate or something similar.
 

Because gaming is often a form of escapism, and we like to escape to a world with simpler, clearer rules. Specifically, many people dislike to spend much time in a world of moral relativism, so they like rules that make the world less focused on moral choices and more on action.
Things can be as evil as evil can be without needing a "Chaotic Evil" label on them?

If alignment really means nothing more than "okay to kill without question", then why do PCs have alignments? Why do shopkeepers, who generally aren't okay to kill, even if they're evil?

And if alignment is instead the choice of a side... How many people formally choose an abstract side in cosmic conflict? And surely the choice of a side needn't reflect one's personal morality at all? Declaring oneself "Lawful Good" in that case might stem from, "Those guys seem to be winning."

My point is that things like, "I follow Pelor" communicates much more and is more interesting than putting "LG" on one's character sheet.
GM: "It is a desire demon. They are inhabitants of hell, are fire-resistant and have mind-affecting powers"
A: "I cast lightening bolt at it"
B: "Wait, it might not be bad, maybe we should talk to it?"
C: "Or it might be attacking us because it was brought up that way; we can't blame it for its parents' faults"
In a great many settings, "inhabitant of hell" conveys everything that "evil" does and more besides but is considerably more evocative.

If it doesn't convey "evil" in a particular setting, then it seems that setting isn't a good fit for alignment from the get-go.
When I play D&D style games, I use alignment. If I want a game to focus on morality and so on, I'll run Fate or something similar.
I'm not even talking about focusing a game on morality. Even from a purely action-oriented point of view, alignment seems to me to be more a hindrance than anything.
 

There's level titles; there's required training* to level-up; there's monks/mystics and druids who need to defeat existing high-level members of your class before raising to some of the upper-tier levels of each class. The last two I guess you could say are just messing with the causation (since, as an example, it would be fairly natural for someone to train with an expert to get better at a thing), but then you can say that the level title is just the kind of thing people start calling you when you get that good.
*Also one has to spend a lot more if you can't find a trainer of the right class and level.
I'll give you the high-level monks and druids, I'd forgotten about them. In those cases, it does seem that IC levelling is an actual thing.

A lot of groups back in the day straight-up ignored the level-training rules. I don't recall ever using them, though perhaps I'm misremembering.

In any case, it seems likely that at least part of the reason why those things didn't make it into later editions is because they reified levelling more than most people cared for. (And in the case of monks and druids, probably also because it foisted too much in the way of setting assumptions on everyone's game.)
But that will always run into acute little disconnects like not being able to figure out a water-breathing spell because you are one xp away from levelling, but a quick sidequest to a in-no-way-water-related dungeon somehow makes it all work (although you can always say they just needed to take their mind off it for a while, and then it would click).
I already granted that spellcasters had to be aware when they gained a new level of spells.
 

Emoshin

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Friendly reminder that this is a + thread :)

The basic premise of this + thread is re-clarified here

Please endeavor to stick to the Q&A format wherever it makes sense. If you wish to refute or expound one's argument, one is encouraged to create or participate in a different thread, perhaps leveraging the initial learning and information gathering you got here via question asking.
 

I'll give you the high-level monks and druids, I'd forgotten about them. In those cases, it does seem that IC levelling is an actual thing.
Like everything with that era of gaming, it's probably both ways at once. Consistency not being a strong suit and all that.
A lot of groups back in the day straight-up ignored the level-training rules. I don't recall ever using them, though perhaps I'm misremembering.
I feel like every group tried it, didn't understand the benefit (keeping you a little cash-hungry, so you had to make hard choices about selling off that nifty magic doo-dad to get training money or potentially wasting some xp/the risk to acquire it), and moved on. I think there was a lot of AD&D-isms that were oft ignored because they weren't well explained (whether people would have used them if they knew to purpose, I've no idea).
In any case, it seems likely that at least part of the reason why those things didn't make it into later editions is becausethey reified levelling more than most people cared for. (And in the case of monks and druids, probably also because it foisted too much in the way of setting assumptions on everyone's game.)
Could be. Or just the hassle and individual questing (before that was as common, I think) all to the annoyance of the rest of the party who didn't have such hoop-jumping. Especially for the end result of a AD&D druid or monk, which are cool and everything, but honestly kinda hard to use and not as clearly upgrade options like paladins and rangers were.
I already granted that spellcasters had to be aware when they gained a new level of spells.
Right, and I'm discussing it.
Friendly reminder that this is a + thread :)

The basic premise of this + thread is re-clarified here

Please endeavor to stick to the Q&A format wherever it makes sense. If you wish to refute or expound one's argument, one is encouraged to create or participate in a different thread, perhaps leveraging the initial learning and information gathering you got here via question asking.
So ask and answer, but don't discuss? Why?
 

Things can be as evil as evil can be without needing a "Chaotic Evil" label on them?
Yes, but alignment is more about them being knowably evil. in our world, people can support one leader and say they are great for the country. Others can say he is evil. But because the latter is subjective, it’s not knowable. If you were able to know, with certainty, that a leader was evil, how would good people support him?

In a D&D campaign, evil leaders tend to be attacked and killed, and the generally good population and organizations cheer for the heroes who killed Sauron, dispatched the Dark Overlord, or whatever. The focus is on the fun of doing the action, not on questioning the morality of the leader. But when I ran Mindjammer, most missions required cultural re-alignment or meme-engineering, where the goal was less to defeat the leader than to render them unfollowable.

Alignment is a short-cut that says that we are happy with the GM and the world setting deciding the bulk of our moral decisions. Many people like that short cut.

If alignment really means nothing more than "okay to kill without question", then why do PCs have alignments?
Ah, that’s the old-school roots of D&D saying that players and opponents should follow the same rules. Not a huge fan of it myself either.

Why do shopkeepers, who generally aren't okay to kill, even if they're evil?
Interesting. I’ve never afforded shopkeepers any especial status in my games. In fact the last one I statted out was killed by the players because he had been hiring employees specifically to feed to a vampire. In fact, the way I run games, it’s probably evil guards that are the safest profession from PC retribution. Not sure this is anyhting more than a personal ng, though.

And if alignment is instead the choice of a side... How many people formally choose an abstract side in cosmic conflict? And surely the choice of a side needn't reflect one's personal morality at all? Declaring oneself "Lawful Good" in that case might stem from, "Those guys seem to be winning."
That’s not the way I or my players approach alignment at all. I tend to start thinking of characters in terms of Numenéra descriptors or Fate attributes — even if they are D&D character. So my conception of a character is likely to be “a young half-elf woman on the run from her family to avoid an arranged life”, or “a cleric dedicated to the good of his flock”, or “a Drow assassin who isn’t sure this is what she wants to be”. The alignment comes from my conception, not from any desire to “win”. I’m pretty sure that my players think similarly (or, occasionally, pick a deity because they want to choose Righteous Rage of Tempus as a feat. grrrr)

My point is that things like, "I follow Pelor" communicates much more and is more interesting than putting "LG" on one's character sheet.
But putting both on communicates even more! Or how about “my alignment is Unaligned, but I follow Pelor”? Very different from the LG follower of Pelor! Of course, the more you describe, the better. LG is the minimum, “LG follower of Pelor” is longer and more useful, but “LG follower of Pelor who believes blind faith is wrong” is even better.

In a great many settings, "inhabitant of hell" conveys everything that "evil" does and more besides but is considerably more evocative.
Yes, but only because you know the setting! The setting has already conveyed that hell is uniformly evil, so all you are saying is “if you have a well detailed setting, use it” which is hard to disagree with. But this is also the same as your last argument, which I don’t disagree with; the more description the better. “evil” is the minimum. ”evil inhabitant of hell” is better, and “evil inhabitant of hell who years to live somewhere else” is better still.


If it doesn't convey "evil" in a particular setting, then it seems that setting isn't a good fit for alignment from the get-go.
it’s probably rare for hell not to be uniformly evil, but I’m sure you can find examples of other areas where you might debate that. Are the Pits of Isengard uniformly evil? Are Death-Eaters? Is the Injustice League?

I'm not even talking about focusing a game on morality. Even from a purely action-oriented point of view, alignment seems to me to be more a hindrance than anything.
I’m not sure I can think of a common example where knowing that my enemy is evil makes it harder for me to play from an action-oriented viewpoint. Maybe an example?
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top