• Resources are back! Use the menu in the main navbar. If you own a resource, please check it for formatting, icons, etc.

"Busywork" in RPG's...

Michael Morris

Villager
Interesting article today on, of all places, Magic's website..

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgcom/daily/rg1

(Not that their articles aren't always interesting, they just usually aren't relevant to RPG's). The article discusses the concept of 'busywork' and brings up the question - what parts of D&D do you consider the 'busywork'

I think the biggest one for me is character generation. Anything to speed up this without cutting too many corners in character variety is welcome - indeed this is one of the reasons I don't allow non-core races and classes in my games.

Thoughts?
 
Encumbrance other than by armor.

Tracking things like food, water, torches once you are past the very low levels.

Spell components, if your DM is a hard-ass and makes the PCs actually acquire them (instead of just assuming their availability).
 
I thought of some more:

* Random treasure generation, especially of non-magical treaures.
* Traps. Finding them, disabling them, or triggering them. (This is busywork because there is really no "skill" involved in the skill checks: they are all binary, fail/succeed, depending upon your total modifier in Search and Disable Device vs. the trap's DCs.)
* Setting watches / getting enough rest so the spellcasters regain their spells. (Take a party of 4 PCs with 2 spellcasters, each of whom needs 8 hours of rest, and combine this with a desire that there be 2 people on watch at any one time. Ugh.)
 
Mark CMG said:
NPC Generation (particularly high level) is one of the bits I hear most flags people's time.
It takes a lot of time, but is it really busywork?

American Heritage Dictionary defines busywork as "Activity, such as schoolwork or office work, meant to take up time but not necessarily yield productive results." I'd argue that generating NPCs definitely yields a productive result, even if it does take a lot of time.
 

Turanil

Villager
Joshua Randall said:
I'd argue that generating NPCs definitely yields a productive result, even if it does take a lot of time.
There is room for argument here... I say that in many instances it's wasted time, where the players slay the dude in just a couple of rounds (and he didn't use all his carefully determined feats, skills, etc.), or don't try to slay him, so stats are useless, or they didn't encounter him for whatever reason. But of course, stats can be reused. ;)
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
Joshua Randall said:
It takes a lot of time, but is it really busywork?

American Heritage Dictionary defines busywork (. . .)

. . .differently than I do and differently than the article defines it. You can do a lot of things that are productive that are still obstacles to getting at the fun, when it comes to gaming. Even if invested time yields a productive result, sometimes there are better ways to invest it.
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
KB9JMQ said:
I would agree. I may end up with an NPC to use but if it is a throw away encounter it is a boatload of work to get it.
I agree. I like having a stack of level one to twenty stats available that can be plugged in and re-used with small adjustments. With these eConics, I just switch out a weapon type (perhaps changing only the base damage) or add a special magic item here and there, as needed for a scenario, and it is a lot less work. Some like to fudge the whole thing but I prefer having a firm set of stats as a base and only having to fudge in minor ways. My players prefer that, too.
 

buzz

Villager
My vote is for dealing with treasure. Every 3.x game I've played eventually reaches a point where we have this massive Excel spreadsheet of all the loot we've accumulated, and then spend many email threads an much game time sorting, selling, redistributing, etc. It is my #1 least favorite aspect of the game.

I'd really like to run a game where PCs are just equipped according to their budget on the wealth-by-level table. You show up to game night with your PC outfitted and ready to go, and that's the end of it.
 

Masquerade

Villager
GreatLemur said:
Wow, seriously? That has literally been my favorite part of RPGs since I was 12.
Ditto. I love creating characters, both PCs and NPCs, and never consider the process to be work. The rest of the preparations I have to do as DM, however, can get tedious and annoying, especially when prepared material goes to waste.
 

Stalker0

Adventurer
To me, busywork is an aspect of the game that takes a lot of effort or paperwork to manage and whose productive yield (which in dnd terms is fun!!) is low.

I would add dispel magic rolls (basic negation of some magic items and alteration of stats because of it), and I second npc generation (other than BBEG, I always have fun with those).

I would also add searching and disabling traps (unless I'm the rogue).
 

buzz

Villager
GreatLemur said:
Wow, seriously? That has literally been my favorite part of RPGs since I was 12.
I think it all depends on whether the involved busywork has merit, in which case it isn't really busywork, per se.

The best examples I can think of are the old FASA Dr. Who RPG and second edition Chivalry & Sorcery. Both of those games involved a lot of generating numbers in order to generate other numbers that were in turn used to generate the numbers that you actually used. Most games with a clue have realized that this is a really stupid way to generate characters, and just cut to the chase.

Thankfully, I wouldn't classify D&D3.x as "busy" chargen in that sense, as you're not spending time on numbers that aren't intended to be used in some way. It does, however, get sticky when you're generating N/PCs above 1st level, as all the decisions that normally get spread over the lifetime of a character in play get collapsed into a single chargen attempt. It also doesn't help that it's often necessary to do one level at a time, which slows things down.
 

The_Gneech

Villager
Juggling everybody's schedule so that we can all get together and game for more than an hour every six months...

Actually, within the actual play, I find that identifying magical items falls under the heading. After you end up with a bag of "unidentified potion #4, unidentified short sword, unidentified ring #7" treasure stops seeming cool and starts seeming like a pile of accumulated junk.

-TG :cool:
 

buzz

Villager
Stalker0 said:
To me, busywork is an aspect of the game that takes a lot of effort or paperwork to manage and whose productive yield (which in dnd terms is fun!!) is low.
Exactly.
 

Aaron L

Adventurer
Masquerade said:
Ditto. I love creating characters, both PCs and NPCs, and never consider the process to be work. The rest of the preparations I have to do as DM, however, can get tedious and annoying, especially when prepared material goes to waste.


Me 3. I'm always baffled by the people who say that making characters is a chore.
 

Stalker0

Adventurer
Aaron L said:
Me 3. I'm always baffled by the people who say that making characters is a chore.
I don't think its the character creation as a whole, but parts of it. For example, some people love coming up with a character concept and background, but hate having to figure out classes, skills, items, etc to make that happen. Others are the opposite, they love to adjust the numbers, find just the right classes, but don't enjoy coming up with a big background.

Some people love all aspects of it, but not everyone:)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Joshua Randall said:
Encumbrance other than by armor.

Tracking things like food, water, torches once you are past the very low levels.

Spell components, if your DM is a hard-ass and makes the PCs actually acquire them (instead of just assuming their availability).
Agreed on all three here.

My personal pet busywork peeve is pre-memorizing spells for any class; if I ever start another campaign I'm going to use a different system and do away with pre-memorization.

Not that I've had to argue with it myself, but anecdotal evidence would indicate 3e ExP calculation takes far more time and effort than it should, if done properly; particularly if there's a spread of levels within the party.

Others have mentioned treasury division, but if everyone gets down to work that can often go quite efficiently. It really bogs down if only one or two players out of 5 are doing the paperwork. What I find slows things down are the shopping trips that come after any treasury division...

Lanefan
 

buzz

Villager
Lanefan said:
Not that I've had to argue with it myself, but anecdotal evidence would indicate 3e ExP calculation takes far more time and effort than it should, if done properly; particularly if there's a spread of levels within the party.
Calculating XP is pretty easy, IMO. I can't do it in my head like my Monday DM, but it's never taken me more than a few minutes.
 

Advertisement

Top