D&D 5E Combat as war, sport, or ??

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Eh. There are people who, in some context, can be helped along to stay with their better angels by such things. I absolutely play with rules lawyers--but most of them are capable of understanding when you get right to the point, and I have no evidence they're some great exception to the general gaming populace.
My point was more; I will not play with people that will constantly litigate on something. We reach a decision/interpretation and stick with it. If people cannot stick to an agreement, then authority from the books are not going to change anything.
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
My point was more; I will not play with people that will constantly litigate on something. We reach a decision/interpretation and stick with it. If people cannot stick to an agreement, then authority from the books are not going to change anything.

Ah, yeah, that's a legitimate point, though sometimes the "reach a decision" can seem more final to some participants than others.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
No, I reject the view that such text is necessary. Furthermore, I submit that the kind of people that would not accept a simple agreement as to how to play outside of designer rules would not feel too compelled by the rules either. I will not play with "barracks room lawyers".
That's a pretty damming admission of failure on 5e's part delivered with a grin. This came up because of discussions over how 5e forces the gm to pickup & carry the weight of gamist elements by taking such efforts to avoid those too. Piling on the idea that the gm doesn't need to be supported in doing that either would be a pretty nakedly hostile design choice if it were accurate.

Seeing this go from "by avoiding [everything forge says about system design] so hard it just dumps the burden of being so on someone..." in 492, followed by 494 have you tried talking to people &495 the system actually removed tools once present to support the gm in these 496 the system doesn't need to support the gm so quickly might be a record.


It's also a stellar example of the sort of hostility that GM's can expect from 5e & one where one-d&d needs to do dramatically better with less reliance on magic pixie dust. Like the commercial said, ""There is no magic pixie dust.
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
That's a pretty damming admission of failure on 5e's part delivered with a grin. This came up because of discussions over how 5e forces the gm to pickup & carry the weight of gamist elements by taking such efforts to avoid those too. Piling on the idea that the gm doesn't need to be supported in doing that either would be a pretty nakedly hostile design choice if it were accurate.

Seeing this go from "by avoiding [everything forge says about system design] so hard it just dumps the burden of being so on someone..." in 492, followed by 494 have you tried talking to people &495 the system actually removed told once present to support the gm in these 496 the system doesn't need to support the gm so quickly might be a record.


It's also a stellar example of the sort of hostility that GM's can expect from 5e & one where one one d&d needs to do dramatically better with less reliance on magic pixie dust. Like the commercial said, ""There is no magic pixie dust.
Someone has to do the work. The players won’t. The designers refuse. So it falls to the DM. And people wonder why paid DMing is suddenly a thing.
 

pemerton

Legend
There are many RPGs that have a clear structure to play and don't require the GM to impose it from "on high" in a fashion that is independent of the inner logic of play. One really cool one (in my view) is Agon 2nd ed. Another (but mechanically much heavier) is Torchbearer 2nd ed. There are also RPGs of this sort within the D&D family of games - Moldvay Basic, and I think to a significant extent 4e.

So if 5e doesn't deliver in this respect, why not play one of these many other RPGs that does?
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
No, I reject the view that such text is necessary. Furthermore, I submit that the kind of people that would not accept a simple agreement as to how to play outside of designer rules would not feel too compelled by the rules either. I will not play with "barracks room lawyers".
Barracks room lawyers are one thing. People who are simply stubborn are another; and stubbornness is IME where 95% of all arguments are rooted. Text is very useful when dealing wiht stubborn people.

Consensus simply isn't a viable means of solving disputes unless one or both (or more, if more are involved) sides are willing to compromise, and that compromise process is IME wide open to passive-aggressive manipulation and-or coercion. At least with a vote (democracy) or single-person decision-making (dictatorial) things are in the open and everyone knows where they stand.
 

Pedantic

Adventurer
As you probably recall from some of our conversations over the years, I've got significant doubts about how the relatively complicated and meta-game-y PC build approach of 5e D&D fits well with the mechanics => fiction approach. Bounded accuracy clearly makes it a better fit in this respect than 3E; but for someone who cultivated their sensibilities for that sort of approach using Rolemaster (with RQ/BRP as a back-up), it is a bit hard to look at 5e through a purits-for-system simulationist lens.
You've brought this up a few times, and I think you might be lumping a few different positions together that probably need to be considered individually. You seem to be describing games here that focus on a mechanics>fiction relationship with an explicit goal of simulation. They're trying to model a world that makes sense and/or portrays specific elements of the the setting/genre to a sufficient degree of abstraction.

You can imagine an internet forum of people on the same page about the rules intent discussing the specifics of the ranseur vs. the guisarme or laughing about the idea of studded leather armor.

The second version of this first approach is to set the mechanics more or-less-arbitrarily, or perhaps with an eye on mechanical game balance, and then to suck up whatever fiction results, no matter how absurd. I regard 3E D&D and its variants as exemplars of this.

What you're pointing to here is a good example of the split. Mechanics as the ultimate source of fiction isn't necessarily a simulationist position; what you're describing here is primarily a gamist position, with simulation as a necessary step toward achieving that goal. A strict relationship between mechanics and fiction allows for player problem solving; by having a fixed set of rules that define the game world, a player can leverage those rules to paly efficiently. The design here calls for simulation, not so much because it's important to get the elements of the setting right (and genre simulation probably generally overrides concerns of "realism" when they arise), but because the player must rely on setting elements to be consistent, so they can effectively make optimal play decisions. Additionally, it's useful as a player to be able to draw mechanical conclusions from expected setting elements (i.e. rogues are good at sneaking, so using stealth is likely a strong play as one).

It doesn't matter if say, armies are ineffective vs. individuals at the higher levels, as long as that is a predictable, knowable and expected outcome of the rules, that just becomes setting information players use to play the game effectively.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Barracks room lawyers are one thing. People who are simply stubborn are another; and stubbornness is IME where 95% of all arguments are rooted. Text is very useful when dealing wiht stubborn people.
It depends on what we are arguing about. As far as my comments are concerned, I was arguing about meta considerations of the style of game being played. In those kinds of cases, rules as such do not matter much. On the other hand I agree in the case of actual rule disputes.
Consensus simply isn't a viable means of solving disputes unless one or both (or more, if more are involved) sides are willing to compromise, and that compromise process is IME wide open to passive-aggressive manipulation and-or coercion. At least with a vote (democracy) or single-person decision-making (dictatorial) things are in the open and everyone knows where they stand.
In my opinion, the key element here is to recognise that a decision has been reached and accepting that.
 

pemerton

Legend
What you're pointing to here is a good example of the split. Mechanics as the ultimate source of fiction isn't necessarily a simulationist position; what you're describing here is primarily a gamist position, with simulation as a necessary step toward achieving that goal. A strict relationship between mechanics and fiction allows for player problem solving; by having a fixed set of rules that define the game world, a player can leverage those rules to paly efficiently. The design here calls for simulation, not so much because it's important to get the elements of the setting right (and genre simulation probably generally overrides concerns of "realism" when they arise), but because the player must rely on setting elements to be consistent, so they can effectively make optimal play decisions. Additionally, it's useful as a player to be able to draw mechanical conclusions from expected setting elements (i.e. rogues are good at sneaking, so using stealth is likely a strong play as one).

It doesn't matter if say, armies are ineffective vs. individuals at the higher levels, as long as that is a predictable, knowable and expected outcome of the rules, that just becomes setting information players use to play the game effectively.
I don't think I disagree with any of that. I just think it makes for silly RPGing, because the fiction becomes quite arbitrary. My go-to example of this is the +30 natural armour bonus of the oldest 3E dragons: given that even Hephaestus will struggle to make a suit of armour that grants more than +15 or so to AC (I can't remember all the minutiae, but I'm positing a +9-ish armour bonus with a +5 or +6 enhancement bonus), what the hell does that +30 natural armour bonus actually mean in the fiction?

I also think it can create other headaches - because the rules in a simulationist-type RPG can not ever be total, there will occasionally be a need to adjudicate the fiction directly, and if the fiction is arbitrary outside of the mechanics that yield it, it can't be adjudicated directly (eg if we suddenly find ourselves having to work out whether or not a particular technique can cut through some mythically strong chains, is the AC of the chains +15, as per the mythical armour forged by Hephaestus, or +30, as per the mythical armour of an ancient dragon?).

This is why I played RM as my main game for many years, and 4e for quite a few years subsequently, but was never tempted by 3E, which lacks the attention to non-arbitrary fiction found in RM but cannot be approached fiction first as 4e can be.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
It depends on what we are arguing about. As far as my comments are concerned, I was arguing about meta considerations of the style of game being played. In those kinds of cases, rules as such do not matter much. On the other hand I agree in the case of actual rule disputes.

Yeah, there's some serious differences in "this is how a situation in-game is resolved mechanically" and "this is how players should play." I'm not seeing why the latter should be enforced by much of anything here; if you can't work it out with and amidst your players, one or more of you don't belong in the same game, and no set of sticks and carrots is going to really change that.
 

pemerton

Legend
Yeah, there's some serious differences in "this is how a situation in-game is resolved mechanically" and "this is how players should play." I'm not seeing why the latter should be enforced by much of anything here
Should can be a strong word!

Classic Traveller is an early example of a RPG with no overt reward/guidance structure like classic D&D's XP system. It was a bit notorious for being a game where it was unclear what players were supposed to do, and what exactly would drive play.

You don't have to introduce a reward system to introduce guidance, but introducing guidance can be helpful. When I run Cthulhu Dark there's no reward system, but I work with the players in their PC build, and then try and make sure in my initial framing, that there is clear guidance as to what the game is about.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Should can be a strong word!

So is enforced. Telling people what the game is about is not enforcing it. And having tokens of some sort to represent success isn't really, either (though as I've argued if its necessary probably people don't really want to be in that kind of game in most cases). As an example, in superhero games success and failure are their own rewards; nothing else is really needed.
 

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