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Disconnect Between Designer's Intent and Player Intepretation

How do you manage to have an extended campaign if you don't do this? And I don't think it's the D&D play loop that causes it, although there are examples of published CoC modules that are effectively D&D dungeons with maps of sprawling underground locations and keyed encounters. I think it's the rules themselves that do it. CoC is written using the simulationist BRP ruleset

There was actually an official d20 adaptation in the early 2000's
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
I'm reminded of the Winchester boy's go-to, rock salt. But yes, perhaps an investigator should be more like Dr. Van Helsing, armed with knowledge of the weaknesses of his foes; silver, crucifixes, holy water, wooden stakes (with a mallet because, as a doctor, he knows that there's bone protecting the heart!), etc..
Its easy to forget that the reason the Winchesters can go guns a'blazing is that all of them are very well educated on monster weaknesses, and aren't hesitant to do research before they engage (or to disengage if things aren't going well). You occasionally see how important this is when they think they're dealing with one thing and are actually dealing with another (they had a stark example in the prequel series just last week in fact).
 

Celebrim

Legend
I agree with you - CoC RPG as a system does not support the feel I want for CoC mythos.

My worry is you'd end up with something that feels like 'Rick and Morty' or recent volumes of Charles Stross's Laundry series.

This might should be forked, but the secret to Lovecraftian horror is that it was written by a highly neurotic, emotionally fragile intellectual who was aware that his entire world view was crumbling around him. HPL literally felt he was waking up into the world of his horror stories. This is a guy who had bought into the rock-solid comfortable world of the Victorian intellectual - an eternal unchanging universe, man as the pinnacle of evolution, white Anglo-Saxons as the pinnacle of human evolution, science the vehicle for man's eventual godhood, and so forth only to see the very science he put his faith into undermine all his beliefs. Godel's incompleteness theorem. The Big Bang. Quantum Mechanics. The insanity of industrialized war in Europe. When this is a guy saying one day science is going to open up vistas that will drive people insane, he's a man who is experiencing that as he speaks.

This creates a feel that is very hard for rational people to understand for two reasons. First, because thankfully most of us are not crazed sensitive neurotics like HPL, and secondly because we really do not correlate the contents of the mind and seriously consider them. Questions like, "If the sun is going to burn out in a billion years, why do I bother to do my homework?" sound silly to us and don't actually produce the existential dread they were producing in HPL.

My first experience of HPL was actually the uncanny emotional realization of just how small and far apart the atoms in my body really were, so that I realized that I am in fact an insubstantial mist through which the neutrinos blow basically unimpeded, an electron ghost barely even there in the grand scheme of things. Actually, feeling the emotional impact of that is what I would love a CoC roleplaying game to actually produce. But most of the time, CoC satisfies itself with just going for squick instead of horror, triggering feelings of revulsion rather than existential dread. We're missing what actually frightened HPL underneath the obvious animal survival things.

And it's not clear to me how you actually transcend that problem.

You see, we aren't HPL. If you read something like:

"Corresponding to any given consistent axiomatization of number theory, one can explicitly construct a Diophantine equation which has no solutions, but such that this fact cannot be proved within the given axiomatization."

You are not going to start freaking out and screaming like Luke in the gas refinery: "No, that's not true!!! That can't be possible!!!" I very much feel HPL would have. We live in the universe post all of these revelations about how weird the universe is and we just shrug. But a really good HPL adventure somehow would undermine our confidence in reality just as much as early 20th century science destroyed HPL's belief in the worth of mankind so that even if the investigators kill the monster, it doesn't matter, because it's the existence of the monster that is problematic in the first place.

However, that problem goes way outside the topic at hand.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
While I get that awarding XP for collecting treasure incentivizes a single specific form of campaign play that by no means has to be the only style to play a fantasy RPG, making XP for defeating enemies the only clearly codified way of getting experience was just a horrible thing with, I would argue, severe permanent damage to the RPG medium.
In part, I suspect, because too much emphasis was put on defeating them in combat, rather than "defeating" them by avoidance, bypassing, negotiation, or any other means.

I'm not sure if this emphasis came from the player base's interpretation of the design or from an intentional design choice.

Xp-for-gp was dropped. Also xp for "good roleplay" was dropped and I don't mind this at all: far too open to DM favouritism and abuse. So what's left? Xp for monsters defeated is granular (good), only they didn't state clearly enough what "defeat" actually means. Xp for story or mission completion isn't granular enough and is also hard to codify; and further, pushes a story-based play-style that doesn't mesh with West Marches or sandbox type of campaigns.
So much dumb followed from it that became the default for all fantasy RPGs.
Can't have been that dumb; as if it became the default it means nobody thought up anything less-dumb enough to take its place.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
In part, I suspect, because too much emphasis was put on defeating them in combat, rather than "defeating" them by avoidance, bypassing, negotiation, or any other means.

I'm not sure if this emphasis came from the player base's interpretation of the design or from an intentional design choice.

Xp-for-gp was dropped. Also xp for "good roleplay" was dropped and I don't mind this at all: far too open to DM favouritism and abuse. So what's left? Xp for monsters defeated is granular (good), only they didn't state clearly enough what "defeat" actually means. Xp for story or mission completion isn't granular enough and is also hard to codify; and further, pushes a story-based play-style that doesn't mesh with West Marches or sandbox type of campaigns.

Can't have been that dumb; as if it became the default it means nobody thought up anything less-dumb enough to take its place.
What about milestone advancement?
 

dragoner

KosmicRPG.com
Playing from 1e to 6e CoC, we were always shotguns and dynamite, seemed a normal part of the game. Though I played it first, then read the books. I think in Shadow Over Innsmouth they dynamited some stuff.
 
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MGibster

Legend
There was actually an official d20 adaptation in the early 2000's
d20 Cthulhu was one of the best d20 products relased and I wish I never sold my copy. It was a great resource for new Keepers with tips for running Cthulhu in different eras (even in your D&D game) and made good use of the d20 system without making it too much like D&D.
 

Celebrim

Legend
In part, I suspect, because too much emphasis was put on defeating them in combat, rather than "defeating" them by avoidance, bypassing, negotiation, or any other means.

It's not just the emphasis, such that as you level up, you generally get a lot better at killing everything, but only marginally better or not better at all at evasion and negotiation or that the one class with evasion features is a terrible trap of a class that isn't worth playing. It's that the game doesn't actually reward alternate strategies very much. Monsters are difficult to avoid, bypass, or negotiate with. The subset of monstrous things in a dungeon that you can do any one of those three with is small. And for the most part, all three tactics will get you killed more often than they'll save you, both in the short term and the longer term.

While bypassing or a avoiding the monster will get you some XP from a generous GM, as people have pointed out, it's the XP from the treasure you really want. And it's very hard to bypass or avoid a monster and get the treasure. As soon as you are within 10' of a monster in 1e AD&D you basically have to stop moving and enter melee, and if you try to leave melee you draw what will later be called an "attack of opportunity" with massive bonuses for the attacker. Plus, many monsters have more speed and better senses than you are likely to have. Avoiding monsters by running away is doable in 1e AD&D, but avoiding monsters to make progress in a dungeon generally isn't.

And in the short term it will get you killed. And I mean reliably killed. Because in 1e AD&D it is always important to have an exit strategy, and an exit strategy depends on having a clear and safe path of retreat if things go wrong. If you leave things behind you, you are basically in the first stage of writing up a new character. Bypass, evade and negotiate do not guarantee a safe exit from the dungeon should you run into a situation you can't handle. That isn't to say that there aren't some situations where you'll want to do that, but as a first order strategy it is a failure in the way being able to kill everything isn't.

And even if you manage to avoid short term disaster, the strategy doesn't work out because it costs XP relative to the kill things and take their stuff strategy. Most negotiation in practice means bribes, and in Gygaxian play bribes are always hefty and painful (examples are provided in the DMG). Moreover, since much of what you would be negotiating with won't keep a deal in good faith, often times it means paying a tax on both the way in and the way out, and you'll likely be at a disadvantage on the way out that makes extortion seem a sound strategy - out of hit points, out of spells, etc. All these missed opportunities and payments mean getting less XP out of the dungeon, which puts you behind the curve compared to the challenges you have to face going deeper down.

In short, in Gygaxian play sure you do try to avoid random encounters by playing quickly and efficiently. You do plan safe escapes when you need to get out of the dungeon fast. You do try to have contingency plans for aiding escape plans such as throwing food or gold behind you to distract pursuers or using flaming oil to temporarily block passages and iron spikes to jam doors shut. You do try to avoid or bypass encounters that are currently beyond you. And you do try to befriend any potential allies you find in the dungeon while at the same time being wary for the inevitable betrayal of some of your erstwhile allies. But the idea that you can advance in a Gygaxian dungeon by as a first order strategy avoiding things in order to rob the monsters without fighting them or other sorts of non-combat strategies is I think difficult to sustain. I have heard of groups trying to or even successfully robbing the Keep. I've never heard of anyone trying to rob the Caves of Chaos.

That highly skilled players understood all of this can be demonstrated by the fact that often new (to me) groups I would join groaned if I tried to do things like talk to monsters for RP reasons, knowing full well that it was suboptimal play. Success in "old school D&D" was win surprise, win initiative, kill things before they can react, search everything carefully, and take all their stuff to maximize XP. And I think this is the intended design by Gygax. I do not think this is players playing in ways he didn't expect.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What about milestone advancement?
Nowhere near granular enough.

I'm assuming an xp-based system* throughout, where those involved in a scene or combat or whatever get xp for it and those not involved don't. I'm also assuming that, due to this and other factors, characters advance at different rates and bump at different times. Contrast this with them all bumping together which is what milestone advancement seems specifically designed for.

* - or equivalent; the point being that whatever the reward is, it only accrues to those who take action to earn it.
 

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