What your state of resources are or are not should not be the mechanism that determines whether you are in or out of a fight.
The system has nothing to do with it. Resting is not guaranteed, and the DM has all the power he or she needs to make sure nova-and-resting is discouraged.
"You hear the stomping of feet and shouts in some sort of goblin-speech coming from the woods around you. There are no enemies nearby, but you can tell from years of experience that this is an unsafe place to rest.
a DM has more controls at low levels to prevent certain issues from cropping up. But what happens when the party gains access to more convient modes of transport? Teleporting back to a well-studied home base after carefully studying the location they wish to return the next day? This happens around 9th level with just a wizard in the group. An 8th-level wizard can hide the party in a rope trick for 24 hours with three castings. You could obviously subject the party to danger each time they rest a home after a teleport or each time they exit the rope trick, but it seems awfully contrived at some point.
I agree with VB's point here.
In the game I describred upthread - in which the PCs teleported 1000 miles to work everyday, and then teleported back home once they started running low on spell points, "home" was the imperial palace in The Great Kingdom.
There are ways to introduce time pressure, or constraints on resting, into such a game - NPCs waiting to ambush the PCs as they fly outside the castle's teleport wards read to teleport home; or functionaries in the palace waiting to send them on a different mission as soon as they telport back - but as VB points out, at a certain point this becomes contrived. The PCs are of a level - both mechanically, and within the social and political context of the gamewolrd - that there just aren't that many NPCs who can challenge them, and there aren't that many functionaries who are brave enough to tell them what to do.
The game would simply have been less inane if the PCs' access to their spells was regulated in some other fashion than "rest for 8 hours to get spell points that you can exhaust in a minute or two of action". (The caster vs martial issue didn't matter in this particular game, because all the PCs were casters - whether pure or "semi".)
The 15MAD/early-onset-LFQW is only a problem in a very specific and very narrow and very inflexible style of play.
The only thing you need in order for the 15MAD/early-onset-LFQW not to be a problem is a mildly reactive world which isn't put on PAUSE whenever the players aren't looking at it.
Adventures with imposed time-based deadlines are one way to achieve a reactive world, but other methods include:
- Proactive opponents (reinforcing positions, sending retaliation squads, changing plans, abandoning hideouts, destroying evidence, making new alliances, etc.)
- NPC Competition (stealing the rewards, winning the acclaim, etc.)
- Competing interests (do we need to choose between X and Y, or can we try to accomplish both?)
- Demanding support cast (you need me to rescue your cat? but I just used all my spells to nova that fight with the goblins!)
- A variety of long-term and short-term goals
- A mixture of unexpected challenge types
And, of course, all of that is really just scratching the surface. Pretty much anything which creates a short-term demand or uncertainty will do the trick.
Uncertainty is not sufficient. Rational players will make expected utility calculations. As well as uncertainty, then, there must be a sufficiently high degree of risk - demanding support cast whom the PCs can't afford to ignore
, short term goals that may be completely lost if not resolved right now
, etc. Sometimes this becomes contrived.
There is also the issue that, in a system like D&D or Rolemaster, a high level spell caster who is not casting spells - whether because s/he has none left, or she is saving them for later - is operating at only a very modest fraction of his or her capability. In a game in which some of the PCs are not spellcasters, perhaps this is where those non-casters get the time to shine. In a game with all spellcasters - such as the one I described above - it just means that nothing is happening!
I mean, it doesn't add much
to a high fantasy game to contrive situations in which an archmage rescues a cat from a tree by climbing a ladder rather than levitating up or teleporting the cat down. Or to put it another way - my main problem with the 15-minute day in Rolemaster is aesthetic, not balance (although balance is also an issue) - and it is not a solution to post aesthetically unappealing alternatives, like archmages climbing ladders and being bossed around by functionaries whom they could incinerate at will.
I didn't have the 15MAD problem in 3E, nor the caster problem. But I can see where others are coming from. You admit that the stakes must be high enough. But how far do you push this? You can't force the players to believe that the stakes are high enough as that would be railroading. So they could decide, as a group even, that none of your stakes are important to them, that their desire to nova/rest/repeat is greater than any stakes you place on them. The system allows them to do this. What is the ultimate end to this game of chicken? The damsel dies? So what, we nova/rest/repeat. A powerful godling is released? So what, he seems nice enough, we nova/rest/repeat. You took too long to respond, now the world is destroyed, the end. There is nothing stopping a group of players from doing the 15MAD if that is what they are determined to do. And when you blow up the world as DM, I'm pretty sure all involved will be left dissatisfied.
I think I posted something similar to this upthread. To cure the 15-minute adventuring day by raising the stakes presupposes that the players (i) care about the stakes, and (ii) have the mechanical capacity to respond.
But if (i) obtains, then as VB points out problems arise - if the players really are invested in saving the princess, are you as GM really going to kill her offscreen in order to "punish" your players for nova-ing their spellcasters? In a certain sort of sandbox approach, that might be tenable. But there are a number of other approaches for which it is not - for which there is an expectation that, if the players care about it, then their PCs will be part of it.
As for (ii), that goes to the point I made earlier - to what extent is the player of a spellcaster expected to play well below maximum capacity now
, in order to avoid the need for rest later
. There are any number of answers to this question, reflecting a wide range of playstyles and approaches to the game. In my view, though, there is certainly a tension in both wanting a player to by highly emotinally invested in a scene, and
expecting the player to play his/her PC well below capacity in that scene. I'm not saying that there aren't ways of managing or even dissolving that tension - but, again, these will vary widely across playstyles, and even the social dynamics of particular groups.
If they choose not to save the damsel, then she dies, yes. And then we get to see what happens after that--maybe the townsfolk take it upon themselves to take care of the cultists. Maybe the local authority, (a Duke or something), hears of the cultists and sends a force to squash them. Perhaps a full blown war breaks out! Or, maybe nothing happens. Hell, the party could leave that part of the world and never return, so whats it to them? But that story continues, and that part of the world will be changed if the party ever deigns to revisit it.
And if the party chooses not to follow an adventuring lead, and the result is that the world is somehow destroyed? That would be an odd choice, I would think, since it would seem that the party missed out on the most interesting thing happening on their world there. At the very least, I would think both players and characters would want to avert such a thing, but if the world is destroyed, then so be it. Snakes on a plane.
There are other worlds. Roll 4d6 and drop the lowest.
And then what? Rinse and repeat? That might be one possible approach to play, but hardly the only one that is, in principle, coherent and viable.
If meaningful choice is given, system mastery will be rewarded.
This isn't true at all. HeroWars/Quest permits meaningful choice in character building, but it doesn't reward system mastery. Because the dimension of meaning is not mechanical victory, but rather the thematic content of play.
In my view Rolemaster also aims at this - that character building will be rewarded not in a mechanicaly better or worse PC, but rather by shaping the PC that one wants to play - although it probably is not as successful as is HeroWars/Quest.
First off, casters have a limited selection of spells at their disposal at anyone time, especially arcane casters.
Casters have a limit on spells per day
Everyone always recognized the spells that would make a rogue obsolete, however the mages never took those spells because it was not a sacrifice they were willing to make. Ever it seems. If you could spontaneously cast Utility spells like find traps, that would be a major problem. I ahve yet to meet a cleric player actually cast find traps.
What you describe here makes sense for me in relation to AD&D play.
But in 3E even low level casters can easily make wands and scrolls. Wands will tend to ensure they don't run out of spells. And scrolls will tend to ensure that they have ready access to a much wider range of spells than those memorised.
Does either of you use any particular techniques to control the proliferation of wands and scrolls in your games?