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D&D General DM's: How transparent are you with game mechanics "in world?"

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
I never said it wasn't a step in the right direction, only that it isn't the last step in the right direction. I mean criminy, you yourself are acknowledging that this is a process. Advocating for the next step of the process, and saying "while this is better than nothing, we could maybe get this official information in a place where more people will access it" isn't some revolutionary cry to tear it all down.

I haven't even had a chance to read the material, and only saying "maybe it should be in the core so all DMs can see it" suddenly makes it not good enough for me?
Criminy.
 

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bloodtide

Explorer
They are the DM in the first place because they want to run a game. I fully, 100%, and utterly reject the idea that they are even 50% of the time smarter or wiser or more creative than their players. This sort of attitude is exactly why people with low self-esteem constantly tell me that they can't run a game as a DM, even though they want to, because they aren't smart enough or creative enough. Utter BS.

Anyone can run a game. Anyone can do it well. It doesn't take anything special to be a DM. Just the courage to sit down behind the screen. The hard part is dealing with the group, and I think it is a mistake that DnD has set it up where the DM is not only running the game, but has also become the leader of the group, dealing with issues and scheduling and all of that. None of that is actually part of being a DM, but it gets put upon them, because we have crafted this idea that players just show up, play, then leave, with no responsibilities to the group itself.
If you have a DM who is not so smart, wise or creative you will have a bad game. A DM that does not know the rules, or can't do any of the math will have a bad game. Same with a DM that is not creative.

I'm not saying someone just pours Mt. Dew on their head, says that "are the DM" and then they get to be crowned the smartest, wisest and most creative of all. Anyone can grab some dice and say they are the DM, sure. But it takes lots of skills to run a game, from game skills, creativititvity to social skills. Skills are not exactly "special", but they are uncommon. And note you yourself says it takes courage, so guess that counts as something special.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
The line is between species that are PC-playable and species that are not. If a species is PC-playable then it naturally follows that any member of that species has the potential to become a PC; and because any member of that species has that potential they all need to be "designed" the same in the setting, without regard to whether that potential is ever followed through on or not.

Again, just your expectation. But how about an elf that has been infected by a Mind Flayer ? Or corrupted by a demon ? Or even one that was very unusual, form across the world, and how had access to training or powers that the PCs did not ? Why am I obliged to give these powers that relate to what the PCs can do ?

One night is no problem. But we do multi-year campaigns, and this was to be one (and became one, though half of us left not long in).

I hope that you see my point, if a DM's style is not up to your expectations, you can always walk ou,t after clarifications if possible. Not much harm done, and if a DM's style is not what you are looking for, you can usually see pretty fast...

That girlfriend example you gave - I'd walk out on that game right quick (or, far more likely, get voted out; as it'd be a her-or-me choice). Even if done well, as it seems to have been here, it's still non-negotiably unacceptable in my eyes.

And we had a long extremely enjoyable campaign that left many fine memories, so you would have deprived yourself of that for what exactly ? Again, it's fine to have different playstyles, but sometimes your choices also make you miss opportunities...

I'm not denying the DM was the victim. What I'm saying is that players are always going to push the envelope even just that little bit and if the DM can't or won't push back then DMing probably isn't their thing.

And some players will be mature enough to allow the DM's confidence to grow as well. Personality is one thing, potential another. Stress is both a terrible and a wondrous thing, for example. At the right amount, it's a motivator, but too much and it brings you down. The guy might have turned out just fine with other players, more time, different circumstances.

Nothing wrong with any of that provided the PC Elves have the potential to do it too. The thing is, if those potentials exist then for game-based reasons they need to be written into the racial write-up for Elves so players know what their options are.

And again, why should the players have access to all the options ? It's not the case in all books/novels of the genre for example. Although it's a really bad example, look at "the Crystal Shard", no PC has an instant path to power like the wizard had when finding the relic...

Same with real-world people - we don't all end up with karate power but we pretty much all have the potential for it.

And then again, I don't believe that. We can all become somewhat competent in karate, but few people have the drive and the inborn physical characteristics combined to transform in to a karate champion.

There's a few problems with the design-on-the-fly method in a game context:

--- if something character-based is designed two years into the campaign to suit a player's concept, other players would have a fully valid complaint that this same option wasn't available sooner, when they rolled up their characters. Having all the options in place before the campaign begins takes care of this.

DId they have fun with their character so far ? Yes, so why are they complaining ? Ah yes, jealousy, due to competition between players and power gaps between options...

In any case, we never have any problem at our tables, we allow almost any retrofit as long as it is not a core concept of the character (something that he used all the time) and does not contradict the story so far.

--- when designing on the fly, rather than all at once ahead of time, it's far more difficult to avoid conflicts - every new thing has to be vetted to ensure it meshes with what's already in place.

And that takes hours of game time for situations that might actually never occur. On the other hand, I can guarantee that you will miss 90% of edge cases which will actually occur.

--- changing things on the fly risks invalidating play from before the change was made, or making something that was once possible in the setting impossible. I personally detest this sort of thing; if a DM wants to make big changes like this she should start a new campaign in a new setting where things work differently. (I'm in this boat right now: I've some rather sweeping rule changes I'd like to make - or try out - in my game but to do so I'd need to start a new campaign/setting; yet my current campaign has years of potential left in it which I don't want to waste)

Where's the problem, create a sweeping change on the campaign setting that explains the changes. The FR do this all the time, as long as you don't do it too often, it should not be a problem...
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Again, just your expectation. But how about an elf that has been infected by a Mind Flayer ? Or corrupted by a demon ? Or even one that was very unusual, form across the world, and how had access to training or powers that the PCs did not ? Why am I obliged to give these powers that relate to what the PCs can do ?
You aren't obliged, but it is a consistency issue.

So an elf was infected in your game by a Mind Flayer and now he has a weaker version of psionic blast. Well, my elf wants that. I go out and capture a mind flayer and will only let it live if it infects my elf in the same way. Would you allow that? If yes, then you're being consistent within the fiction and allowing PCs the same options as NPCs. If no, then you are being inconsistent within the fiction and for some people like @Lanefan it's going to be an issue.

Now just because there's consistency doesn't mean that the PC will avail himself of the option. There could be a cost associated with the ability. Perhaps that NPC lost 4 points of wisdom as he grappled with confusion brought on by such a powerful mental effect. The mind flayer lets the PC know that he can do as the PC wants, but it will have a lasting negative effect on his mind, sapping his willpower and making him more gullible. The PC might not want to go through with it, but at least it's an option.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Again, just your expectation. But how about an elf that has been infected by a Mind Flayer ? Or corrupted by a demon ? Or even one that was very unusual, form across the world, and how had access to training or powers that the PCs did not ? Why am I obliged to give these powers that relate to what the PCs can do ?
The first two examples are non-standard Elves; and the potential very much exists that a PC Elf might run afoul of a Mind Flayer or a Demon the same way.

The third example is much more valid, and there I'd have to rule that if one Elf from that faraway place (or other world) has that power then all Elves from there have that potential. From there I'd have to come up with some in-setting rationale as to why Elves from there are different than Elves from here; the answer would very likely come down to their being slightly different sub-species of Elf.
And we had a long extremely enjoyable campaign that left many fine memories, so you would have deprived yourself of that for what exactly ? Again, it's fine to have different playstyles, but sometimes your choices also make you miss opportunities...
Indeed, but if I'm not willing to back my words up with actions then my words are lies.
And some players will be mature enough to allow the DM's confidence to grow as well. Personality is one thing, potential another. Stress is both a terrible and a wondrous thing, for example. At the right amount, it's a motivator, but too much and it brings you down. The guy might have turned out just fine with other players, more time, different circumstances.
Again true, though in this particular case we had already known him for several years and while hoping for better, kinda got what we expected.
And again, why should the players have access to all the options ? It's not the case in all books/novels of the genre for example. Although it's a really bad example, look at "the Crystal Shard", no PC has an instant path to power like the wizard had when finding the relic...
That's another example of a standard character being made non-standard by something that happens during play (if we take the novel as covering the played campaign). That's fine; but IMO events like this are there to inform character development during the run of play, rather than character generation before play begins.
DId they have fun with their character so far ? Yes, so why are they complaining ? Ah yes, jealousy, due to competition between players and power gaps between options...

In any case, we never have any problem at our tables, we allow almost any retrofit as long as it is not a core concept of the character (something that he used all the time) and does not contradict the story so far.
In my eyes retconning or retrofitting is highly evil; as it tends to invalidate what went before.
And that takes hours of game time for situations that might actually never occur.
Not game time. Prep time. :)
Where's the problem, create a sweeping change on the campaign setting that explains the changes. The FR do this all the time, as long as you don't do it too often, it should not be a problem...
I've been in campaigns where this has been done. Hell, in one long-running campaign it was my PC alone who unintentionally triggered the change (an on-the-fly change from the 3e to 3.5 ruleset triggered by opening a particular door in a dungeon; and while everyone else was up on a ledge wondering what to do next she [in typical act-now-plan-later fashion] just flew down, started exploring, and opened it).

As a player I've never really liked how this sort of thing affects play, and thus as DM I try to avoid doing it.
 

I would be thrilled if my players captured a mind flayer to get a special brain power. That's the kind of initiative I like as a GM (saves me the time of coming up with an adventure). I'd give them a psionic blast, alright, and I'd give it to them good and hard.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
You aren't obliged, but it is a consistency issue.

A consistency of what ?

So an elf was infected in your game by a Mind Flayer and now he has a weaker version of psionic blast. Well, my elf wants that.

What, the elf in your group wants to become the slave of a mind flayer and become a mentally dominated thrall with little personal will if any ?

I go out and capture a mind flayer and will only let it live if it infects my elf in the same way. Would you allow that? If yes, then you're being consistent within the fiction and allowing PCs the same options as NPCs. If no, then you are being inconsistent within the fiction and for some people like @Lanefan it's going to be an issue.

Which fiction would that be ?

Now just because there's consistency doesn't mean that the PC will avail himself of the option. There could be a cost associated with the ability. Perhaps that NPC lost 4 points of wisdom as he grappled with confusion brought on by such a powerful mental effect. The mind flayer lets the PC know that he can do as the PC wants, but it will have a lasting negative effect on his mind, sapping his willpower and making him more gullible. The PC might not want to go through with it, but at least it's an option.

It's only an option if they know it exists, for one, and second I'm absolutely fine with it, it's just that the PC becomes an NPC as it is now totally deprived of player agency.

Again, it's the consistency of the world that matters, not the consistency of the rules.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
The first two examples are non-standard Elves; and the potential very much exists that a PC Elf might run afoul of a Mind Flayer or a Demon the same way.

It might and it might not, again, nothing obliges any story including a TTRPG one to offer the same possibilities to the heroes and their adversaries. Pick any work of the genre and I'll show you that it's not the case in general.

The third example is much more valid, and there I'd have to rule that if one Elf from that faraway place (or other world) has that power then all Elves from there have that potential. From there I'd have to come up with some in-setting rationale as to why Elves from there are different than Elves from here; the answer would very likely come down to their being slightly different sub-species of Elf.

Why do you need that kind of generalisation ? Just maybe the PC was not suited to it at all, not the right personality, not the right birth sign, whatever. Again, you don't need to make it top down or offer any kind of justification.

And by the way, the different sub-species is just as debatable, the player could also ask "and why can't I play that sub-species ?"

Indeed, but if I'm not willing to back my words up with actions then my words are lies.

As a DM, my ONLY commitment is to provide the players with fun. You can add additional constraints to the way you DM, but you can also try to play tennis with one arm tied behind your back. You might be good enough to pull it off that way, as for me, I don't see the need for additional constraints such as the ones that you impose on your game.

Again true, though in this particular case we had already known him for several years and while hoping for better, kinda got what we expected.

And in that case, why is he still the DM with players abusing him ?

That's another example of a standard character being made non-standard by something that happens during play (if we take the novel as covering the played campaign). That's fine; but IMO events like this are there to inform character development during the run of play, rather than character generation before play begins.

And I'm perfectly fine with PCs and NPCs being non-standard at any time. If it makes for a more interesting play, I put absolutely no restriction as to what I can offer my NPCs and, to a lesser extent, my PCs. To a lesser extent because I am still mindful of the power gap at least with some of our more powergaming kind of players.

In my eyes retconning or retrofitting is highly evil; as it tends to invalidate what went before.

Please, don't badwrongfun other types of play again. We only do it when there is no problem with the consistency of the story, and in any case, it happens infrequently because as DMs we try to make it so that the choices the players make result in fun in the game, so they have no real incentive to make different ones.

Not game time. Prep time. :)

I've been in campaigns where this has been done. Hell, in one long-running campaign it was my PC alone who unintentionally triggered the change (an on-the-fly change from the 3e to 3.5 ruleset triggered by opening a particular door in a dungeon; and while everyone else was up on a ledge wondering what to do next she [in typical act-now-plan-later fashion] just flew down, started exploring, and opened it).

As a player I've never really liked how this sort of thing affects play, and thus as DM I try to avoid doing it.

So do I, but once more, if the overall result is more fun, I will not close the door to such changes.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
It takes a special kind of person to deliberately screw over his players.

No it doesn't. The fact that you think it requires neurological divergence to be a jerk is just mind-boggling to me.

I don't view DMs who make mistakes or misunderstand rules as bad the way you do.

Clearly, because the only Bad DMs are those with mental illnesses. I fundamentally disagree with your position.

If you alter the tool, you are harming that tool as I use it. My game uses the tool as it currently is.

You can alter a tool without harming the usage of that tool. What about how you use it requires unlimited and unfettered power that cannot be countermanded? Why is it a good thing that that is the tool you need?

You can disagree all you want. My game doesn't run the same without it. End of story.

An assertion you seem to refuse to support in any manner. That isn't convincing.

Why are you inventing "without explanation?" Everything that follows that invention is wrong as a response to what I said, because I never said or implied that I wouldn't give a quick explanation of my reasoning to the players. I said that stopping for a whole discussion and voting session ruins the game.

Because you said stopping the game to explain the situation ruins the game. Right here: "To have to stop the action in order to discuss the situation, proposed a new rule, receive counter proposals, and then vote on a replacement would destroy the session. It's much better for the DM to just have the authority to just make a ruling and quickly move on with the fun."

If you are stating that you do not stop the action to discuss the situation, which is your implication, then you must be making the change without explanation. Because you didn't stop the action to discuss the situation. I see now that that wasn't your intention, so you do intend to stop long enough to have a brief conversation, which is all that would be required, you just don't allow the players any say in the rule that you propose and implement.

Of course it is. Everyone including the DM has to get personal enjoyment out of the game or it isn't worth playing.

And we aren't discussing your personal enjoyment. We are discussing the role of the DM. If you hadn't cut out the next sentence that would be clear. So, your point is a non-sequitur.


So, I'll take that as a no? I've still got Tasha's to go back through, and other things I haven't caught up on, and you aren't going to be happy with my observations anyways (You never are. I read it, tell you what I see, and you declare that if I could understand what I was reading I'd agree with you, or something else dismissive. Because it can never be that I come away with a different understanding than you, it must always be malicious.)





I also see you decided to ignore the rest of my post. Interesting.
 



Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A consistency of what ?
I answered that multiple times in the post. There is only one fiction in an RPG.
What, the elf in your group wants to become the slave of a mind flayer and become a mentally dominated thrall with little personal will if any ?
Maybe, or maybe it happens involuntarily. The point is that if it can happen to an NPC, it must be able happen to a PC or your fictional game world(since you needed know) or your fiction is inconsistent.
It's only an option if they know it exists, for one, and second I'm absolutely fine with it, it's just that the PC becomes an NPC as it is now totally deprived of player agency.
Sure, but what if it's an ability that an NPC has that doesn't deprive a PC of its agency. What if the NPC was granted +8 to strength by Orcus in exchange for becoming a wraith upon death? A PC should be able to make the same bargain.
Again, it's the consistency of the world that matters, not the consistency of the rules.
That's what we are saying. If only NPCs can get an ability and not the PCs, your world is inconsistent.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
If you have a DM who is not so smart, wise or creative you will have a bad game. A DM that does not know the rules, or can't do any of the math will have a bad game. Same with a DM that is not creative.

In your opinion. This is not necessarily true. I know plenty of people who struggle with math who can run excellent games. Creativity is hyper-subjective, and declaring someone more creative than another is often an exercise in futility. And I've known the rules better than many DMs. That doesn't make their games bad.

Also, you have moved the goal posts. Before it was "smarter, wiser and more creative than their players" now it is "smart enough to do math and wise enough to read the rules, and creative"

I'm not saying someone just pours Mt. Dew on their head, says that "are the DM" and then they get to be crowned the smartest, wisest and most creative of all. Anyone can grab some dice and say they are the DM, sure. But it takes lots of skills to run a game, from game skills, creativititvity to social skills. Skills are not exactly "special", but they are uncommon. And note you yourself says it takes courage, so guess that counts as something special.

Sure, courage. You don't need to be smart, wise or creative to have courage. Don't really need social skills if you have a group who is willing to support you. Many game skills can be supplemented by friends and just learning the game, and you can be the DM without having learned the game yet.

The kid who opens his boxed set, hands his friends pre-made character sheets from WoTC and starts reading the adventure is a DM. You don't really get to say "they aren't a real DM". If they are the DM, then they are the DM. You might be right that they aren't a good DM yet. But the claim isn't that "the best DMs are smarter, wiser and more creative than their players" it is that DMs are by default, smarter, wiser and more creative than their players. Which is wrong.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You can alter a tool without harming the usage of that tool. What about how you use it requires unlimited and unfettered power that cannot be countermanded? Why is it a good thing that that is the tool you need?
Not if you remove functionality you can't. And I already showed how it's a tool that I need in my example earlier in the thread. You would remove that ability from me and in the process ruin a good tool.
An assertion you seem to refuse to support in any manner. That isn't convincing.
I've given support multiple times. Once with a specific example recently used by me.
Because you said stopping the game to explain the situation ruins the game. Right here: "To have to stop the action in order to discuss the situation, proposed a new rule, receive counter proposals, and then vote on a replacement would destroy the session. It's much better for the DM to just have the authority to just make a ruling and quickly move on with the fun."
You do know that a quick explanation isn't the same as an involved discussion, right? You're conflating the two things and in the process getting what I said completely wrong.
If you are stating that you do not stop the action to discuss the situation, which is your implication, then you must be making the change without explanation.
Objectively false. The two words do not mean the same thing at all. A lack of involved discussion doesn't even come close to meaning without explanation.
Because you didn't stop the action to discuss the situation. I see now that that wasn't your intention, so you do intend to stop long enough to have a brief conversation, which is all that would be required, you just don't allow the players any say in the rule that you propose and implement.
No. There was no conversation. I informed them that I was going to include magic weapons without pluses as weapons unable to harm creatures with resistance/immunity to magical weapons. Then I explained that it was so that I could give them some cool magic weapons, rather than them finding none at all or nearly none, which was to their benefit. Explanation =/= conversation.
And we aren't discussing your personal enjoyment. We are discussing the role of the DM. If you hadn't cut out the next sentence that would be clear.
They are intertwined. You cannot take away a tool that I use to great effect without reducing my personal enjoyment of the game. Discussing my role as DM and the tools available invites my personal enjoyment to be part of the discussion as it has relevance to the discussion.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I answered that multiple times in the post. There is only one fiction in an RPG.

Maybe, or maybe it happens involuntarily. The point is that if it can happen to an NPC, it must be able happen to a PC or your fictional game world(since you needed know) or your fiction is inconsistent.

Certainly not. At this stage, I would like to point out that you are again using negative words (inconsistent) to talk about a different style of playing. See how easy it is to do this: "And I prefer a world that is not gimped by technical choices and constraints, a world where freedom is not severely limited by artificial constraints from pure gaming that restrict a DM's creativity".

It has nothing to do with consistency, and it has nothing to do with fiction. It is a purely gamist element you want to tell your players to make them feel like you will not be "cheating" on them. But I actually can't find a real world of consistent fiction that abides by that very technical TTRPG rule that you want to impose on your game.

Sure, but what if it's an ability that an NPC has that doesn't deprive a PC of its agency. What if the NPC was granted +8 to strength by Orcus in exchange for becoming a wraith upon death? A PC should be able to make the same bargain.

Again, why ? Maybe his personality does not suit Orcus. Maybe he is not "death's chosen one". NOTHING whether in the rules of the game or in any rule of writing fiction mandates this.

And actually, the rules of 5e point you EXACTLY in the other direction, most of the NPCs have abilities that the PCs don't have and cannot have, and there are even villainous class options that have been designed specifically for NPCs and not PCs. So obviously the authors of 5e don't think that this detracts from the game.

Again, you are perfectly free to impose constraints like this on your game if you think it makes the GAME more consistent, but its' certainly not needed for a consistent world, story and fiction.

That's what we are saying. If only NPCs can get an ability and not the PCs, your world is inconsistent.

No, it's not. It's only your vision of your gaming world that looks like it. But I don't think that you will be able to point out many works of actual fiction that work that way. Please try, because where it's LotR, the Wheel of Time, any Sanderson book, etc. you will find that the adversaries have abilities that the heroes don't have, and never will.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Certainly not. At this stage, I would like to point out that you are again using negative words (inconsistent) to talk about a different style of playing. See how easy it is to do this: "And I prefer a world that is not gimped by technical choices and constraints, a world where freedom is not severely limited by artificial constraints from pure gaming that restrict a DM's creativity".
No. I'm not. I'm using inconsistent to mean inconsistent. If you have things available to NPC elves and those same things are not available to PC elves, you are being inconsistent in the fiction.
It has nothing to do with consistency, and it has nothing to do with fiction. It is a purely gamist element you want to tell your players to make them feel like you will not be "cheating" on them.
This has to be a joke. It has nothing to do with gamism or any other type ism. It's purely a consistency issue. And "cheating" my players wasn't even a thought of mine in this debate. It's simply not a part of it.
And actually, the rules of 5e point you EXACTLY in the other direction, most of the NPCs have abilities that the PCs don't have and cannot have, and there are even villainous class options that have been designed specifically for NPCs and not PCs. So obviously the authors of 5e don't think that this detracts from the game.
Yes. 5e steers DMs towards inconsistent fictional worlds. That doesn't mean I have to follow.
No, it's not. It's only your vision of your gaming world that looks like it. But I don't think that you will be able to point out many works of actual fiction that work that way. Please try, because where it's LotR, the Wheel of Time, any Sanderson book, etc. you will find that the adversaries have abilities that the heroes don't have, and never will.
Now you're trying to conflate novels with RPGs. It won't work, because they simply aren't the same or even all that similar.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
No. I'm not. I'm using inconsistent to mean inconsistent. If you have things available to NPC elves and those same things are not available to PC elves, you are being inconsistent in the fiction.

OK, i'll stop here, your words don't mean anything to me. I give you tons of examples, and you can only repeat these meaningless words. You find my fiction inconsistent, I find yours limited, restricted and gimped. Why don't we leave it at that ?

This has to be a joke. It has nothing to do with gamism or any other type ism. It's purely a consistency issue. And "cheating" my players wasn't even a thought of mine in this debate. It's simply not a part of it.

Yes. 5e steers DMs towards inconsistent fictional worlds. That doesn't mean I have to follow.

Yeah, right, you are of course welcome to your opinion about this, I just think that the millions of DM who play 5e by the books and channeling its spirit in their games would be amused at your condescendence here, I know I am.

Now you're trying to conflate novels with RPGs. It won't work, because they simply aren't the same or even all that similar.

Well, it's bizarre that every single edition of D&D provides a list of novels that they offer you to use as inspiration. Again, reading the intro of the PH: "They were tired of merely reading tales about worlds of magic, monsters, and adventure. They wanted to play in those worlds, rather than observe them."
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
It might and it might not, again, nothing obliges any story including a TTRPG one to offer the same possibilities to the heroes and their adversaries. Pick any work of the genre and I'll show you that it's not the case in general.
A non-interactive story can do whatever it likes.

An RPG where players have characters who are native to the setting* in which the game is set have, I think, every right to expect that their PCs are representative of the populations they were born-raised in. If nothing else, there's other proto-PCs out there - the replacements for the current ones once character turnover sets in - and as they too are part of the general population but as yet we have no idea who they will be, the whole population has to be treated as if any member could become a PC at any time. Result: PCs and NPCs within a species are the same.

* - obviously this does not apply in cases where the PCs are transplanted into the setting from elsewhere; but good luck finding replacement PCs when those ones die. :)
And by the way, the different sub-species is just as debatable, the player could also ask "and why can't I play that sub-species ?"
If I'd introduced the subspecies into the game as playable then it would be potentially available for play by anyone (I say "potentially" because I keep uncommon or rare species gated behind die rolls so as to keep them unusual in parties as well).
And in that case, why is he still the DM with players abusing him ?
He isn't. That campaign collapsed after just a few months.

Also, there's a distinction between the players abusing the DM (not the case there) and the DM allowing the players to abuse the game (which was).
And I'm perfectly fine with PCs and NPCs being non-standard at any time. If it makes for a more interesting play, I put absolutely no restriction as to what I can offer my NPCs and, to a lesser extent, my PCs. To a lesser extent because I am still mindful of the power gap at least with some of our more powergaming kind of players.
I'd like to think I and the players can keep things interesting even within those constraints; never mind that it's very true that constraint breeds creativity.
Please, don't badwrongfun other types of play again. We only do it when there is no problem with the consistency of the story, and in any case, it happens infrequently because as DMs we try to make it so that the choices the players make result in fun in the game, so they have no real incentive to make different ones.
That's fair. I've seen it happen more when a DM has become frustrated with some major part of the rules, or the whole system, but rather than start a new campaign the existing one has been changed on the fly.

The 3-to-3.5 change example I gave earlier would have had some hellacious effects on the story had things played out, in that it's almost certain my character - having been the cause of the change - would have been driven to suicide after the adventure; both because of what she'd done and in knowledge that every powerful person who had just been weakened by the change would potentially find out she was responsible and come gunning for her. She wouldn't have wanted her friends to have to spend the rest of their lives defending her and maybe dying themselves in the process.

This never happened largely because my PC died later in the same adventure (killed by her own party after one too many mis-aimed fireballs) and simply declined revival.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Certainly not. At this stage, I would like to point out that you are again using negative words (inconsistent) to talk about a different style of playing. See how easy it is to do this: "And I prefer a world that is not gimped by technical choices and constraints, a world where freedom is not severely limited by artificial constraints from pure gaming that restrict a DM's creativity".

It has nothing to do with consistency,
It has everything to do with consistency; as consistency is the point.
Again, why ? Maybe his personality does not suit Orcus. Maybe he is not "death's chosen one". NOTHING whether in the rules of the game or in any rule of writing fiction mandates this.
Agreed. What @Maxperson missed including was the word "potentially"; thus if an NPC has made that deal with Orcus then a PC potentially ought to be able to as well provided Orcus finds said PC acceptable.
No, it's not. It's only your vision of your gaming world that looks like it. But I don't think that you will be able to point out many works of actual fiction that work that way. Please try, because where it's LotR, the Wheel of Time, any Sanderson book, etc. you will find that the adversaries have abilities that the heroes don't have, and never will.
Can't speak to Sanderson (not much of a fan of his) but in LotR the whole point is that the "PCs" (the Fellowship, etc.) CAN potentially gain access to the enemy's powers, abilities etc. and much of the conflict arises from how the PCs deny themselves these powers and-or their temptations yet still persevere with what they have. (never mind that in game terms Sauron is about triple the level of anyone else in the setting) Within itself, LotR is in fact impressively consistent with how it handles powers and abilities.

Star Wars is an even clearer example: the dark side has greater power which the "PCs" can access - provided they pay the cost, now or later. Again, it's all about temptation and potential; and there's no inconsistency involved.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
A non-interactive story can do whatever it likes.

An RPG where players have characters who are native to the setting* in which the game is set have, I think, every right to expect that their PCs are representative of the populations they were born-raised in.

And again, even if it was the case, there is not rule anywhere that prescribes that all members of any population can do whatever the PCs and their adversaries can do.

The basics is that the PCs are exceptional, but also that their adversaries are exceptional, and nothing prescribes that the mass population can do what these do, and nothing prescribes that the paths to power that the PCs can follow are the same the NPCs. Nothing except your own views that it has to be so, but it has nothing to do with consistency.

If nothing else, there's other proto-PCs out there - the replacements for the current ones once character turnover sets in - and as they too are part of the general population but as yet we have no idea who they will be, the whole population has to be treated as if any member could become a PC at any time.

And that is the exact contrary of the D&D paradigm since the beginning of time. PCs are exceptional.

Result: PCs and NPCs within a species are the same.

This is a pure sophism (incorrect logical reasoning)
  • A is exceptional
  • B is exceptional
  • So A=B
* - obviously this does not apply in cases where the PCs are transplanted into the setting from elsewhere; but good luck finding replacement PCs when those ones die. :)

There is absolutely no such problem, you are creating those for yourself with your own constraints that exist only in your representation of consistency.

He isn't. That campaign collapsed after just a few months.

Really too bad, my point was just that it's certainly not a DM horror story, unless by these you refer to horror stories for poor DMs who deserved better for trying to run a game for abusive players. :D

Also, there's a distinction between the players abusing the DM (not the case there) and the DM allowing the players to abuse the game (which was).

There can be, but in that case, they are one and the same.

I'd like to think I and the players can keep things interesting even within those constraints; never mind that it's very true that constraint breeds creativity.

Huh, no, in general constraints stifle creativity, or at best channel it along very narrow paths.

That's fair. I've seen it happen more when a DM has become frustrated with some major part of the rules, or the whole system, but rather than start a new campaign the existing one has been changed on the fly.

Again, I'm not advising it (in particular not as something to be done lightly or every other session), but I've done it once or twice, it can sometimes be justified.

It has everything to do with consistency; as consistency is the point.

The problem is that you mandate consistency when there is no need for it except in your vision of what the world should be. But D&D was only that way during the relatively short lived 3e, and a lot of the DMs out there, including all those who started with 5e with its major explosion don't see consistency problems there...

Agreed. What @Maxperson missed including was the word "potentially"; thus if an NPC has made that deal with Orcus then a PC potentially ought to be able to as well provided Orcus finds said PC acceptable.

And then, because it's absolutely the DM's prerogative to say that Orcus does not find the PC acceptable, that way is officially closed. Does it make it inconsistent ? No, it's actually a common fantasy trope "the chosen one" who does not have to be a PC.

Can't speak to Sanderson (not much of a fan of his) but in LotR the whole point is that the "PCs" (the Fellowship, etc.) CAN potentially gain access to the enemy's powers, abilities etc. and much of the conflict arises from how the PCs deny themselves these powers and-or their temptations yet still persevere with what they have. (never mind that in game terms Sauron is about triple the level of anyone else in the setting) Within itself, LotR is in fact impressively consistent with how it handles powers and abilities.

It is absolutely not the case. No PC apart from Gandalf can decide to wield magic (assuming that it is what Gandalf does). No PC in the fellowship can hope to match the Witch-King of Angmar or have any of his powers. As for the One Ring, it's just an item, and gaining it does not give you the powers of Sauron. For example, Gollum never acquires them, and neither of the two hobbits do when wielding the ring. And neither did Isildur, for example. There was no path to Sauron's power, who is a being of a higher order any way.

Star Wars is an even clearer example: the dark side has greater power which the "PCs" can access - provided they pay the cost, now or later. Again, it's all about temptation and potential; and there's no inconsistency involved.

And again, no one can hope to match Anakin, who is the chosen one, apart from another Skywalker. The path is closed to a few chosen ones, and not all PCs (depending who you see as PCs) can chose to be whatever they want despite the race they were born in. Even being a Jedi is not race specific, it's a gift.
 

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