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D&D General "Hot Take": Fear is a bad motivator


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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But, as @Xetheral stated - it may be too late to resolve - or at least problematic.

Lets say you fail to save the royal family when your characters are 5th level. You don't have the resources to bring them back until your characters are 13th level - many, many years later.

In that time, the game world has had a whole succession issue (either resolved peacefully, by war or by some other conflict). There's a new family on the throne. Bringing back the original royals isn't going to solve the problem, it's going to create a mess!
Yep. There may be other issues to work on for sure.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
Someone ruled the country while they were gone. I guarantee it. People don't leave countries without leadership. You may have to remove those who stepped up if they won't step down, but that's a different problem. It may even be that the PCs stepped in to do it. Lots of ways to play it. Also, consequence does not equal failure. The failure was in letting the royal family die. The correction was in bringing them back. A consequence OF the failure was different leadership. The new leadership was not the failure, though.
Wasn't your original claim that without the risk of permanent character death, there would be no permanent consequences at all?

Isn't failure itself still meaningful if it has permanent consequences?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Wasn't your original claim that without the risk of permanent character death, there would be no permanent consequences at all?

Isn't failure itself still meaningful if it has permanent consequences?
If I said that, I spoke incorrectly. I said/meant failure. Consequences are unavoidable unless from 1st level on the party just retires and does nothing, and even then, depending on the game, it may have consequences.
 

The Lizard Wizard

Adventurer
I’d agree that fear is a bad motivator, (or not a very fun one) I find that if players become too paranoid they lean towards inaction. I can’t set off the trap if I don’t say I’m walking down the corridor. Little role playing moments disappear as nobody wants to experiment or add a bit of detail in describing an action in case it goes wrong or is used against you.

When you’re made to fear losing your job you tend to do the bare minimum in order to not get fired. It doesn’t motivate anyone to do a great job.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Except that losing your artifacts or your beloved NPCs or whatever else, no matter how hurtful they are, doesn't mean losing your connection to the game. Death does.
Only for a short time, as in most cases before very long you'll either be revived or have a new PC on the hop.

And if you're playing more than one PC in the party, you don't even disconnect for that short time.
That's really the only fundamental difference between death and other permanent losses; with (irrevocable) character death, the player must invent an entirely new connection to the game.
This assumes - perhaps rightly in some cases - that one's connection to the game is only through one's PC. Keep in mind, though, that one's connection to the game can also come via connection to the ongoing story and-or party, and-or via connection with the friends you have at the table, and-or via simple tradition and-or inertia.
Having discussed it with my players, there's also a sense in which all the other things--the items, the NPCs, the city, etc.--are less "personal" than one's character. The other things that can be permanently lost are ours, collectively because we collaborate to develop them, or mine, because I'm the DM and I run them (and possibly created them). The Bard belongs to the Bard's player, and nobody else. I've contributed challenges and questions and opportunities, but fundamentally, that's the only thing that truly, unequivocally belongs to that player and nobody else.
In principle I completely agree with the parts I've bolded here. I firmly believe a PC does belong to its player - which is why in other threads I've railed against DMs who take PCs away from players and turn them into NPCs if, say, the PC becomes evil.

That said, when you-as-player take that PC out adventuring I see it that you're in effect gambling that you'll still have that possession afterwards. The game asks you to expose your possession to at least some degree of risk as the stakes or ante, if you will, for playing. This comes back to the luck element I referred to upthread (at least I think it was this thread...?).

And, even though the odds are significantly in your favour and can be made even more so by skill at play, sooner or later you're gonna lose that gamble. I see no problem with this
Being "pure luck" implies skill has no relevance, but you then say it does (it can reduce odds). Otherwise...I honestly have no idea how this is relevant, nor where I meaningfully disagree with you.
See above - maybe it clarifies a bit.
I do not understand why this is a "hard and fast" rule, whereas "races occur on racetracks" is not. Same goes for "computer programs (without procedural generation) are finite in scope."
Here's where I "question the reason", particularly with computer programs: given that with today's computer technology the programmers could easily turn the random number generators loose to create terrain for wherever a player might go, and then "remember" it afterwards why don't they?
So, you really couldn't give a (ahem) fig about respecting the spirit of the game? This honestly comes across as incredibly rude. Like, this sounds like straight-up "Stop Having Fun" Guy material. "Stop limiting yourself in ways the rules don't explicitly require! Isn't it so much more fun to push the limits to their breaking point?!?"
There's a commonly-referenced maxim in pro sports which I think applies here: "If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying."
I don't understand how the "but" part is relevant.
Argument-ender, mostly.
Three years of DMing and ~20 years of playing have never shown a situation like this. If accusations of favoritism are flying, the game is already WAY dead, regardless of whether the DM adjudged a death rightly. It means the players no longer respect the DM. Again, whether rightfully or wrongly doesn't matter. The relationship is already broken. And it can only be restored by restoring that respect, which is vital for making the entire thing--including rules based on "what makes sense"--functional.
I see it not so much as the game's already broken, but as something - in this case, something very avoidable - that could break it.
I have not ever seen this happen, and with my game group, I can pretty much guarantee it wouldn't. I certainly have more sway than others, being the one who knows the cosmology best etc., but I am always willing to defer to a player that has an idea that sounds better, or to yield to the group--just as I would yield to them if they said, "Nope, sorry, all the campaign stuff you've made is boring, we wanna go set sail." I absolutely would not tolerate "loud" players shouting down everyone else; if someone behaved that way at my table, ever, they would get one warning. Failure to heed that warning would result in being removed from the game. Being respectful to your fellow players is mandatory.
Forthright communication requires a few things in order to be successful. First, a willingness to be open, honest and, sometimes, blunt. Second, it demands at least some thickness of skin so as not to take things personally. Without these, IME communication quickly becomes much less than forthright and open: behind-the-back talk, rumours, lobbying, all that BS that can quickly rip apart any group.

Add to that forthrightness a general streak of stubbornness among some of us (me included) and yes, arguments happen. This is where the DM sometimes needs to put the referee's hat on and lay down a final word; and the DM's word being the law is pretty much sacrosant here.
This has only once been an issue (for completely unrelated reasons; a player was pretty rudely failing to engage with the game, and it was weighing down the group), and we resolved it with a respectful, adult conversation in private.
Maybe I'm different; in that my usual stance is if someone's got something to say to me, I'd rather it be said in front of the whole crew.
Let me be clear here: the kind of departure I'm talking about is "we literally cannot find anything interesting about the millions of square miles of territory you've described, so we're going to head out to an area about which you've prepared absolutely nothing whatsoever, not even world-map-level prep."
Ah, OK then. That's a bit more serious than what I originally read as a simple departure form an adventure path to seek greener fields elsewhere in the (prepped or unprepped) setting.
This would be the Fellowship of the Ring heading, not toward Mount Doom, but as far due south of Gondor as possible--to areas where no map exists at all. If the players even remotely stayed within the region in question, they'd still be directly dealing with at least SOMETHING related to the stuff I've done.
Gotcha. Again, I read it as meaning smaller-scale departures.
I'm also not super happy with your implication that I've put them on rails here. I haven't. I have prepared a world, a fairly sizable one, which contains many things in it. The players are absolutely free to contribute more things (and have done so, thankfully!), to go exploring in unfilled parts of the map and I'll improvise stuff to find. (Well, sometimes there might be a big fat nothing, but big fat nothings take very little time to interact with, so the party will sooner rather than later reach something that isn't a big fat nothing.) The party has, in fact, just gone exploring before, to find what might be out there. I've made stuff up to fill it. I very intentionally leave most of the map blank so I have to fill it later, as they learn new things.
Same here to nearly all of this.
Again: I do. I just, y'know, would be really really disappointed if, after having articulated various factions, ally NPCs, enemy NPCs, lost civilizations, mysteries yet unsolved (and which I don't know the answer to yet), things in peril, etc., etc., the players just say, "Nope. Literally nothing here is even remotely interesting to us. We're sailing off into the sea. What do we find?" Because, again, that would mean that the cities, the people, the factions, the politics, the races, EVERYTHING I had crafted with the hope that it would interest them, was completely and utterly worthless in their eyes, and "sail off to a place we know nothing about, simply because we can" was in fact more interesting than every single piece of it.
To be devil's advocate for just a moment (as I really do hear what you're saying on this), maybe the players doing this is perhaps a signal that the setting - or at least this part of it - has in their eyes been overprepped, that they feel there's nothing to really explore here as it's all already been laid out? That they'd rather go where the map is blank?

Further, one could take a more pragmatic long-term view. OK, they've turned their noses up at all this now, but maybe once they've got the go-where-the-map-is-blank urges out of their systems they'll return to the prepped areas-stories-etc. and pick up on some of it. Failing that, all is still not lost: you've still got all that prep in the hopper, waiting for another campaign and-or another party in the same campaign to make use of it, whether with the same players, different players, or a mix. (I've had this happen: multiple parties in the same campaign/setting with the same players; one party happily bashes around in the prepped area while another - again, same players - looks at the blank part of the map and says "screw it, we're going that way".
I'd feel, and I think this is a pretty reasonable feeling, like I had so radically misunderstood my friends that I should be ashamed of myself. To truly strike out so badly that, out of the whole lot of them, not one person could think of something already present that was more interesting than sailing off into the total unknown? That's a pretty stunning rebuke.
I guess I don't see it so much as a rebuke as an opportunity. Yes it's more work for me that I didn't expect to have to do this soon, but hey, I've now got a chance to come up with something mostly-brand-new (and as it's just a different part of the same setting I don't have to do a rules review as the rules and system are already locked in for that setting, which takes out a load of work right there!).
Lanefan, this comes across as very condescending. Yes, I'm aware that spontaneity is important. It has played an extremely important role in my game. I have known very high-level ideas--less "plot" and more "the secret histories," so to speak--but intentionally do not prepare comprehensive notes so that I am forced to adapt and extemporize, so that there really is very, very little "planned." Unless you mean to tell me that I should be so radically anti-planning that I should literally invent every encounter spontaneously (which would take forever, by the way) and never even pause to think about what things might appear at a destination the party has chosen. But I doubt you want me to be...well, hostile to the very idea of planning.
Not at all! As both player and DM I'd rather things be at least somewhat planned than completely made up on the fly.

All I'm saying is that no matter how much planning you or I might do, sooner or later (probably sooner, IME!) the players are going to throw a serious curveball, and it's our job as DM to be able to deal with it.

Re: Dungeon World
It "supports" it in as much as it "supports" any cost, that is, by the application of the GM Agendas and Principles and the various GM Moves.
OK, I've seen those lists before.
Destroying a magic item could easily be "use up their resources," "turn their move back on them" (if the item has an associated move), "show a downside to their...equipment," "offer an opportunity, with or without cost," or "tell them the requirements or consequences and ask." Permanent destruction of a magic item would be appropriate for a hard move (the result of a miss aka fail on a die roll, or the players ignoring a threat caused by a soft move, or the players making a major error of judgment). I, personally, would reserve such destruction for only a relatively high-tension scenario; it would feel dumb and cheap to just destroy magic items out of the blue, but in a high-tension situation, this can add some real bite to the challenge.
Got it. DW doesn't have the same granular combat mechanics as D&D, right? I ask because combat - be it by fumble, spell damage, or whatever - is the most common means of magic item loss in my games; and sometimes due to sheer bad luck e.g. you fumbled your attack, the fumble roll shows you tried to break your weapon, and it then failed its save.
I can also promise you, without doubt, that at most exactly one player is more attached to the items than the character. And even in that case, I'm fairly certain the items are less important. A sword, even a fancy special sword, can be replaced. The investment of who a character is, and that they belong to that player specifically, cannot be replaced.
Tell that to the party I was running a few years back. They had a sword that allowed the wielder to teleport (at slight risk) with up to three other people, otherwise as per the spell. They got great use out of this thing until one day the character using said sword completely blew the roll and ended up appearing in solid rock: end of character, end of sword.

The character in question was* its player's favourite of several she has in the campaign, and even she was more put out over the loss of the sword than the character!

* - and still is; the party moved heaven and earth to get that damn sword back...and the character too, as a side effect. I seem to recall at least one full Wish being involved.... :)

This is getting long, time is getting short, so I'll get to the rest a bit later. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
OK, on to part II... :)
Low-grade anxiety specifically about the character is something that sours the fun of at least two of my players. Not having that specific type of anxiety gives them the peace of mind to actually engage with the game, and go on adventures, rather than becoming hypochondriac turtles. I honestly wish I were joking; my players are EXTREMELY skittish, even by my standards (and I tend to be a risk-averse player myself). Even with me explicitly saying that I won't kill off their characters unless it makes sense and we've come to an understanding, they're still very, very shy about taking risks. It's been getting a little better since the Song of Thorns fight, I suspect because that triumph made them realize what they could achieve....but even with that, they continue to exhibit an overwhelming abundance of caution.
Hmmm. Not quite sure what to suggest there as I don't know the specific people and-or their own particular contexts.

To discourage certain players from constantly putting their PCs at the back of the marching order, one thing I've tried to do where possible is spread the threats around a bit. Not all attacks come from ahead, for example; sometimes the safest place to be is in the lead when the attack comes from behind.

Another thing to look at is more definitively and clearly tying reward to in-game risk. Here's where individual xp (as opposed to group xp or milestone levelling) can really help. No risk taken, no xp earned. (and if the DW system fights you on this, maybe consider a different system?) If you use meta-bennies e.g. Inspiration, Fate points, etc., give those out to the risk-takers and make it clear how they were earned.

Or - and this might not work for everyone but it might for some - maybe run a one-off adventure with new characters, where you somehow set things up such that those who hang back are the ones most likely to die? It's tricky to do; a couple of not-the-best examples I've DMed:

In one scenario, the party enters what looks like an empty room except for a scrap of paper on the floor; as soon as anyone picks up the scrap of paper the hallway into the room collapses, insta-killing anyone who hasn't yet entered the space. (and then the party have to figure a way out, once they've dealt with the foes that gate in, as there's no exits).

In the other, the party enter a large room with a checkerboard floor made up of 3' squares. After a certain time (1 minute? 2 minutes? I forget now) something like ten of the black squares suddenly burst into flame, the door slams shut, and the ceiling starts dropping fast. The PCs have exactly one round to act before the ceiling reaches the floor. The way out? Jump into a fire (it's illusory, as is the patch of ceiling directly above it) and let the ceiling fall around you.

* - the first is in a published module; the second is in an adventure written by one of my players for me to DM with a different group at the time, I think it's a variant on a Grimtooth trap.

Another possible option is to run some obviously-gonzo or drunken one-offs where characters drop like flies and the whole point is to do the most ridiculous things you can; this to get your skittish players a bit more used to losing characters, if this is an issue. And even if it's not, gonzo drunken one-offs can be a blast anyway. :)
Given that we play over Discord, "asking" is mostly a matter of being polite.
I have thus far managed to avoid running games online - I shut it down instead except for running single-player adventures with my wife - and fully intend to keep doing so. :)
None of my current players would take character death as a personal attack. They would, however, be very sad, and be daunted by the task of creating a new character with a similar level of gravitas as the one they'd lost. Since we as a group have agreed that those experiences would sour an otherwise beloved experience, we choose to set that, and only that, aside. Other permanent losses, which would not induce quite the same pitch and intensity of sadness, and which do not have the cost of re-inventing one's investment in the game, are acceptable, so they remain.
I don't know your players, but were one of mine consistently getting that sad over losing characters I'd be a bit concerned from two directions: one, it's just a game so why take it so seriously; and two, what else is going on behind the scenes that's causing this?
Okay. So, why is it that you can do other things because you like and respect your friends, but you can't adhere to the spirit of a pleasant leisure-time activity because you like and respect your friends? This is very confusing to me.
I can like and respect someone quite well while at the same time we're engaging in some good ol' cut-and-thrust against each other at the gaming table. :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Clearly the answer is narrow corridors with 10-ft deep pit traps filled with spikes covered in lethal contact poison. That will keep them in line and properly fearful of interacting with any feature or object except with the precautions of a bomb-defusion team. If your not making your PCs roll at least three save-or-die rolls per game, are you really playing D&D?
So you're calling my hyperbole bluff, are ye? That's fair... :)

There's a not-hyperbolic middle ground in there somewhere.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Every game has boundaries.

I mean, I once played (once being the operative word) with a guy who was obsessed with Dragonlance. So much so he asked to play a kender (red flag 1) in my homebrew. I relented. He came though a magic portal from Krynn. Once here, he complained how stupid things were that no one knew he was a kender and decided his goal was to find another portal so he and the other PCs could go to a "real campaign setting" while still expecting me to run the game, just on Krynn!
Question is, were any of the other players/PCs willing to accompany him over to Krynn even if he did find a gate?

If no, you're off the hook; in that either the Kender stays on your world or it roleplays itself out of the game (and maybe takes its player with it, who knows?). No further action needed on your part.

If yes, you might have bigger problems... :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Yup. It leaves room for the dm or even other party members to decide not to move forward, though I've never seen them choose not to try to revive a character that the player wants revived.
It's rare, but it does happen now and then where a player wants a PC revived but the rest of the party won't do it (and0or are the direct cause of death in the first place!).
We use the 5e version, which at least keeps you humanoid. The point is to not violate the Ship of Theseus-type continuity of the character, while making it something the player will need to actually deal with, for some time.
I use the 1e version, and it's not at all guaranteed you'll carry forward any memories of/from your previous self.
 

Only for a short time, as in most cases before very long you'll either be revived or have a new PC on the hop. And if you're playing more than one PC in the party, you don't even disconnect for that short time.
Perhaps we mean different things. Most of what I said was backed up by actual conversation with my players, so...yeah. And I've never been in a group where you played multiple PCs.

Keep in mind, though, that one's connection to the game can also come via connection to the ongoing story and-or party, and-or via connection with the friends you have at the table, and-or via simple tradition and-or inertia.
"Tradition" and "inertia" are nowhere near deep enough to be the kind of connection I mean. I don't really understand how one can be connected to the story or party without a character involved with it. Obviously, the friendships remain, but those are a prerequisite for having a connection to this game, not a sufficient condition for one--and I feel like that generalizes pretty well. Unless your friendship only happened BECAUSE of a game, the friendship isn't what connects you to that world, story, party, or whatever else.

That said, when you-as-player take that PC out adventuring I see it that you're in effect gambling that you'll still have that possession afterwards.
Yeah, this notion is pretty alien to me, and definitely not how my players see it. They're not gambling, they're exploring, learning, growing. Growth often involves loss or pain, but growth ends with death.

See above - maybe it clarifies a bit.
Not especially. A game can either be pure luck, pure skill, or a mix. If skill can influence probability to any degree, the game cannot be pure luck. If skill cannot eliminate probability entirely, the game cannot be pure skill. Most games are a mix of skill and luck, and I don't really see how one can argue that most (if not all) TTRPGs are anything but a mix. There's a reason I call rolled stats "ability roulette" (because there is no skill involved in what stats you roll), but I don't call combat "attack roulette" (because there is skill involved in combat).

Here's where I "question the reason", particularly with computer programs: given that with today's computer technology the programmers could easily turn the random number generators loose to create terrain for wherever a player might go, and then "remember" it afterwards why don't they?
You have severely excessive confidence in the ability to procedurally generate new content. It is not as easy as you make it sound, and it can in fact be an awful lot of work. Indeed, a lot of work for little to no payoff, since most players won't engage with it meaningfully, and it's very hard to put particularly engaging things into such content. Minecraft works as well as it does because it has very nearly zero goals beyond exploring and creating. (There's the Enderdragon, of course, but that's more "achievement-hunting" than a goal-of-play per se.)

Generating randomly-made cityscape content in a way that even remotely makes sense, not even touching "enjoyable to see and drive around in," is not really within the scope of computer game coding today. You might be able to do it with a particularly well-trained generative neural-net, but that would require a lot of effort for dubious payoff.

There's a commonly-referenced maxim in pro sports which I think applies here: "If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying."
...do you actually believe most professional sports players are cheaters? That is a terribly depressing concept. More importantly, even if I grant this, why would professional, competitive sport logic apply to a leisure-time, cooperative experience?

Argument-ender, mostly.
I do not understand why you needed to end an argument here?

I see it not so much as the game's already broken, but as something - in this case, something very avoidable - that could break it.
If the players don't respect the DM, anything CAN break the game. A foul mood. A bit of bad beef. Raising one's voice. Anything. Because, when the respect is lost, players no longer feel the need to listen, nor to act with courtesy, restraint, or positivity. Respect is so deeply important for all relationships for exactly that reason; when you have it, most problems are relatively easy to solve, and when you don't, even the smallest problem can be (in this case, literal) Game Over.

Forthright communication requires a few things in order to be successful. First, a willingness to be open, honest and, sometimes, blunt. Second, it demands at least some thickness of skin so as not to take things personally. Without these, IME communication quickly becomes much less than forthright and open: behind-the-back talk, rumours, lobbying, all that BS that can quickly rip apart any group.
IME, it is entirely possible to be forthright and also not hurtful with your words. While I can grant that there is some room for "people need to be able to handle honest statements, even if they aren't easy to stomach," that's only half the story. The truth is NOT an excuse. Being respectful and kind can totally still happen while speaking honestly. It requires effort, to be sure, but most things worth doing do. If a player genuinely cannot speak both honestly and respectfully to the other players in the group, they need to leave--for their own good and the group's.

If you are having any "behind the back talk, rumors, lobbying" etc., then I repeat that the problem is far, far greater than whether the DM has final authority; the game is already dead, you're just watching it fall apart in real time.

Maybe I'm different; in that my usual stance is if someone's got something to say to me, I'd rather it be said in front of the whole crew.
Yes, I would say that's different. I find most people feel attacked if you speak to them like this in front of the group, and respond very negatively as a result--essentially, "you're trying to destroy my reputation, and I won't stand for that." If approached in private, however, they tend to be much more willing to listen, because that gives them control over what is shared with the group, and what is not.

To be devil's advocate for just a moment
Perhaps this is so, but (as noted) my players have never seriously entertained it. As I said, it's been a one-off statement from a couple people over the span of three years. One said (more or less) "I wanna go to ALL the places," which obviously can't be done simultaneously. (We'd learned about a the existence of a faraway nation, and that spiked his curiosity; but both IC and OOC, he couldn't justify ACTUALLY leaving, he just had the urge to explore.) The other, at an entirely different and unrelated time, said in a very clearly facetious voice, "I mean, we COULD just walk away," and I said what I said to you (that I would support it, but feel disappointed). That player then clarified that they had no interest in actually doing so, because there were too many open questions needing answers, but that it meant a lot to them that they knew I truly was willing to support that.

I guess I don't see it so much as a rebuke as an opportunity.
I am very unlikely to run another game in this homebrew setting, as it has to compete with other setting ideas (mine and others'), and I'd want something fresh and different. So while it is theoretically an opportunity, it is much more like a loss, as it means the stuff I thought was cool, and that the party had contributed to up to that point, won't get to see the light of play for many years and, in all likelihood, forever.

Got it. DW doesn't have the same granular combat mechanics as D&D, right?
It's pretty loose in certain ways, but not in others. Certainly less granular than D&D in most ways, though. Combat is a likely way to lose items, but don't forget that 4e is also a game I love dearly. Skill Challenges can absolutely have costs like losing a magic item, and I bring that same perspective to DW: "Undertake a Perilous Journey" might afford a player the chance to re-roll a bad roll by consuming the power of one of their magic items, if that makes sense in context (e.g. the cloak of nature concealment our Ranger wears).

Tell that to the party I was running a few years back.
I am surely not saying that it is NEVER the case that items matter a ton. But I'm pretty sure it's not exactly controversial that the individual character-story, the individual "this is the part of this game that I am responsible for," is incredibly more likely to be dear to the player's heart. You lose the character, you may not get all those shiny items back, even if the party has them. Lose the item, the character can always find a substitute/replacement, or attempt to re-create or even exceed the original.

To discourage certain players from constantly putting their PCs at the back of the marching order
Not exactly what I'm going for. I more mean, failure to engage with mysteries, refusal to experiment, because the unknown is scary, and scary things may take away their character, and having their character taken away means ceasing to have a presence within the world. It's a real conundrum, 'cause they really do love learning the mysteries and defeating the baddies and all that, but they've got a very "play it safe, don't rock the boat, don't do anything risky" attitude. We lack for an instigator, more or less.

Another thing to look at is more definitively and clearly tying reward to in-game risk.
The real problem here is that I have tried to do so (and DW actually kind of leans into this, e.g. failed rolls give XP)...it just hasn't super worked. The players consciously WANT to get rewards and do cool things, but their skittish behavior means they tend to avoid risk even when it has reward attached, even when that means getting little or nothing in terms of reward. Hence why I focus on trying to mitigate a really basal anxiety (fear of character loss), so that they'll be (more) willing to take risks.

Or - and this might not work for everyone but it might for some - maybe run a one-off adventure with new characters, where you somehow set things up such that those who hang back are the ones most likely to die?
Yeah, I don't think I can do this. Not just because I don't think it would go over well with the group, but because I don't feel comfortable with it myself.

And even if it's not, gonzo drunken one-offs can be a blast anyway.
I do appreciate the advice, but...honestly, this sounds like, "Do this thing, so you can play the way I do, rather than the way you do that is working for you." I don't need to teach my players to have a cavalier attitude about character death, because that attitude isn't needed to have fun in my game.

As for me, I basically only game online, and there would literally be no way for me not to game online with this group, as we live hundreds of miles apart.

I don't know your players, but were one of mine consistently getting that sad over losing characters I'd be a bit concerned from two directions: one, it's just a game so why take it so seriously; and two, what else is going on behind the scenes that's causing this?
At least two of my players have diagnosed anxiety that can lead to panic attacks, and at least one of my players has diagnosed depression. I'm pretty sure I have both, but am not diagnosed. We don't exactly have ideal lives at present, and there's plenty of stress, loss, and unpleasant history for each of us. Having a bright world they can protect, and a secure investment into that world (even if all the rest of it can--in theory--come tumbling down), makes the crappy parts of our daily lives that much more bearable.

Beyond that? We take our fun seriously. I don't really know what else to tell you. We absolutely crack dumb jokes and have game-specific memes ("<Name>, you're in a hole. Why are you in a hole? Don't be in a hole."). We kid around and goof off. But we also see the game as a collective effort, something built, loved, shared. That has a certain seriousness to it. Just as you would not casually fling about the pieces of a hand-carved wooden chess set simply because chess is a game, even though you may say silly things when knocking over a captured piece. We have a certain serious joy that arises from the earnest engagement with the unfolding story.

I can like and respect someone quite well while at the same time we're engaging in some good ol' cut-and-thrust against each other at the gaming table. :)
I don't approve of PVP at my table. If players wish to compete for something, that's on them, but outright "one PC attacks another" stuff isn't acceptable. We can work out how to resolve the conflict one way or another, I fully support the PCs disagreeing with each other strenuously. But I'm not going to run a game where PCs plot to eliminate each other or cause harm to one another. That's a level of stress none of us need.

So you're calling my hyperbole bluff, are ye? That's fair... :)

There's a not-hyperbolic middle ground in there somewhere.
That would be where I'd like to end up, yes. You wanna do crazy things that might get you killed, but might be awesome? I have your back, mango. I want to see you be awesome. I want to see you fly high. Of course, the more risks you take, the more Problems there will be, but dealing with Problems is part of the fun. I just won't take away...not so much the "opportunity" to deal with the Problems, but the possibility of doing so. A permadead character has no possibility of doing so. A living one has the possibility, but may not get the opportunity.

And that's really the issue, I think. Permadeath is the destruction of possibility. Nothing is possible for a permanently dead character (likewise for a fancy sword that has no character to wield it). Possibility remains if life remains, but just because it's theoretically possible, doesn't mean it will happen. Maybe you never get an opportunity. Maybe you do, but you screw up. Maybe the only opportunity you'll ever get requires you to do something you really, really don't want to do. Those are interesting--and often represent loss cases.
 
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Remathilis

Legend
Question is, were any of the other players/PCs willing to accompany him over to Krynn even if he did find a gate?

If no, you're off the hook; in that either the Kender stays on your world or it roleplays itself out of the game (and maybe takes its player with it, who knows?). No further action needed on your part.

If yes, you might have bigger problems... :)
It was the 90s, I don't think half of them knew what a "Krynn" was, and the guy didn't do much to sell it to them.

My point is while D&D as game has infinite possibilities, an individual game does not. A DM can hold a short and tight leash (railroad) or a long and loose one (sandbox) but there is still a leash. It's up to the player to respect the limits and terms of the game.

If you can't, then shove off to Krynn.
 

nevin

Adventurer
With that provocative title to grab your attention, let me explain what I mean. Please, as with all things of this type, keep in mind a giant neon sign that says, "OBVIOUSLY NOT APPLICABLE TO 100% OF PEOPLE."

In D&D of even a somewhat "old school" bent, it has always seemed to me that the game outright encourages inducing paranoia in your players. Making them distrust every offer of allegiance, every kind gesture, every calm scene, every peaceful town. Making them rightfully believe that they're in constant danger of losing their ability to participate in play, aka, in constant danger of character permadeath, for light and transient causes. I've even been told, just recently and on this very forum, that such paranoia absolutely is how play should work.

To that, I say bollocks.

Yes, fear is an "effective" motivator, in the narrow sense that it usually succeeds at producing some kind of response. But being effective at producing some kind of response at all is not the same as being effective at producing an enjoyable experience.

Fear alone is, in all honesty, kind of boring. I mean, it's "exciting" in a certain sense, but at least for me, only because I want it to go away. It is "exciting" in the way that a nasty, dramatic, but temporary illness is "exciting": it disrupts, confuses, and invites rash action. And the consequences of death for the player experience are...not getting to play anymore. Instead of creating new stakes, new costs, new challenges, character death just...ends everything. That can of course mean loss for the other players, but for the individual directly affected, it just means "you LOSE. Good DAY, sir!"

Again, I do not mean to rail against the use of fear as ONE tool in the toolbox. But for me it is best used sparingly, a pungent spice to be added as needed, not a core ingredient. Instead, for my part, the main motivators should be enthusiasm and affection.

Enthusiasm typically manifests as the player bringing something to the table. A personal story idea they like. A race they want to play. An open-ended mysterious backstory, or maybe a unique trait or quirk that sets something in motion. Feeding and supporting genuine player enthusiasm--that is, rooted in simple joy about something, and not a desire to exploit or coerce--is much more effective as a base motivator in my experience. It gives the player a feeling of belonging, even ownership; the game is, in at least some small part, "theirs," and that motivates them to see it flourish and change. As long as the player understands that supporting their enthusiasm does not mean guaranteeing success (failure is a vital part of most stories worth telling!), I see few ways that genuine enthusiasm produces perverse incentives.

Affection, meanwhile, tends to be more reactive. It's the player's response to things, characters, and events as they unfold. That silly NPC the DM threw in as a joke, who became a beloved friend and whose noble sacrifice to save the party was both tragic and triumphant in turns. The way an offhand remark about family grows into a whole adventure to save them. These bits of affection, when nurtured, become key parts of the game the players will remember fondly, long after play ends. And they motivate players, not out of fear of losing these things like some miser hoarding his coin, but out of the desire to help and support them, to see them grow and improve rather than decline or lose. Unless it's directed toward those enemies you just love to hate! But I'd lump that in with affection too, even if it's an affection for rubbing the smug snake's face in the dirt. Righteous indignation!

Again: fear shouldn't be removed. It is too fundamental, too core to human experience. But its unquestioned central position, its absolute dominance of the player motivation field, is a disservice to the game. Embracing and encouraging these more positive, intrinsic motives rather than the imposed, extrinsic motive of fear...just produces better games, IMO, whether you prefer Zero to Hero or High Adventure type journeys.

If you do everything you can to have genuinely enthusiastic players who find and express affection for the game they play, fear need be only a sometimes food. Instead of paranoia and anxiety, they'll be full of passion, curiosity, indignation, maybe even pride and hope! Failure, not a dreaded menace, but an accepted difficulty on the journey.

So. How about it? Does "don't fear the reaper roller" sound like blasphemy or beatitude? Would it "not be D&D" if fear weren't the fundamental motivator of your games?
Also the only real fear you can generate is the fear of losing the character. For some that doesn't exist.
 

Mort

Legend
Also the only real fear you can generate is the fear of losing the character. For some that doesn't exist.

The more character loss in the campaign, the less players will fear character loss ;

Also, I've found player's attachment to "cool stuff" sometimes exceeds attachment to the character.

After the party scored a large haul of adamantine loot (armor, weapons, the works), they encountered a large number of rust monsters. The (absolutely real) look of abject terror on the players' faces was greater than anything seen to that point (and one of them had already lost a character).
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Believe it or not, I think we're slowly finding some common ground here... :)
Perhaps we mean different things. Most of what I said was backed up by actual conversation with my players, so...yeah. And I've never been in a group where you played multiple PCs.
We do it all the time, particularly at low levels.
"Tradition" and "inertia" are nowhere near deep enough to be the kind of connection I mean. I don't really understand how one can be connected to the story or party without a character involved with it.
A not-great analogy might be that even though the team you're cheering for has been knocked out of the playoffs, you keep watching anyway to see who wins the cup.
Obviously, the friendships remain, but those are a prerequisite for having a connection to this game, not a sufficient condition for one--and I feel like that generalizes pretty well. Unless your friendship only happened BECAUSE of a game, the friendship isn't what connects you to that world, story, party, or whatever else.
Depends, In my case even though we've all been friends for ages, with some of them the only time I saw them (pre-covid) regularly was at the games. Hence, even if I don't have a character it's still worth going just to hang around.
Yeah, this notion is pretty alien to me, and definitely not how my players see it. They're not gambling, they're exploring, learning, growing. Growth often involves loss or pain, but growth ends with death.
Growth of that character, yes. Growth of the campaign as a whole, no.

I mean, I've perma-lost characters early in games who I've thought had tons of future potential. So be it; and though I don't like coming back with the same concept I just lost, I'll certainly file that idea away for future re-use.
Not especially. A game can either be pure luck, pure skill, or a mix. If skill can influence probability to any degree, the game cannot be pure luck. If skill cannot eliminate probability entirely, the game cannot be pure skill. Most games are a mix of skill and luck, and I don't really see how one can argue that most (if not all) TTRPGs are anything but a mix.
Agreed. Question is, how much luck vs how much skill does one want the ratio to be?
There's a reason I call rolled stats "ability roulette" (because there is no skill involved in what stats you roll), but I don't call combat "attack roulette" (because there is skill involved in combat).
They're both gambles, though, in the end.

I guess I should ask here, do you have crits and-or fumbles in your combats? I do, using a homebrew system, and fully endorse them as they serve to randomize and swing-ify combat a bit more.
You have severely excessive confidence in the ability to procedurally generate new content. It is not as easy as you make it sound, and it can in fact be an awful lot of work. Indeed, a lot of work for little to no payoff, since most players won't engage with it meaningfully, and it's very hard to put particularly engaging things into such content. Minecraft works as well as it does because it has very nearly zero goals beyond exploring and creating. (There's the Enderdragon, of course, but that's more "achievement-hunting" than a goal-of-play per se.)
Heh - I don't know Minecraft from Monopoly, sorry. But yes, I do somewhat assume that anything I can do slowly at a table using dice, as in create random content, a computer can do very quickly and in stupendous amouts more detail using RNGs.
...do you actually believe most professional sports players are cheaters?
If they weren't, there'd be little if any need for referees.

How many hockey players get through a season with 0 penalty minutes? How many basketball players go through a season - or even a single game! - without committing a foul? Very very few, if any. And that's just counting what gets called, never mind the fouls and penalties that get missed or ignored.
That is a terribly depressing concept. More importantly, even if I grant this, why would professional, competitive sport logic apply to a leisure-time, cooperative experience?
The altruistic reason: because finding the exploits means they can be fixed via houserule before they break something.

The not-so-altruistic reason: because it's the duty of the player to advocate for his/her character using whatever means the game provides.
I do not understand why you needed to end an argument here?
I was referring to a DM's final word being a means of ending arguments.
If the players don't respect the DM, anything CAN break the game. A foul mood. A bit of bad beef. Raising one's voice. Anything. Because, when the respect is lost, players no longer feel the need to listen, nor to act with courtesy, restraint, or positivity. Respect is so deeply important for all relationships for exactly that reason; when you have it, most problems are relatively easy to solve, and when you don't, even the smallest problem can be (in this case, literal) Game Over.

IME, it is entirely possible to be forthright and also not hurtful with your words. While I can grant that there is some room for "people need to be able to handle honest statements, even if they aren't easy to stomach," that's only half the story. The truth is NOT an excuse. Being respectful and kind can totally still happen while speaking honestly. It requires effort, to be sure, but most things worth doing do. If a player genuinely cannot speak both honestly and respectfully to the other players in the group, they need to leave--for their own good and the group's.
I think your bar for respectful and mine are set at considerably different heights. :)

I mean, I don't much care if someone I know well insults me all day long; I'm used to it, I'll rarely if ever take it personally, and I'll just give back what I get if I have to. And we'll both probably be laughing the whole time.
If you are having any "behind the back talk, rumors, lobbying" etc., then I repeat that the problem is far, far greater than whether the DM has final authority; the game is already dead, you're just watching it fall apart in real time.

Yes, I would say that's different. I find most people feel attacked if you speak to them like this in front of the group, and respond very negatively as a result--essentially, "you're trying to destroy my reputation, and I won't stand for that." If approached in private, however, they tend to be much more willing to listen, because that gives them control over what is shared with the group, and what is not.
These two things directly tie together. A private conversation is immediately open to "he said-she said" when spoken of later among others (which it will be; asking me to keep any such conversation secret will be answered with a hard no, and in the greater world I think about 90% of all NDA's should be banned). Better to have it out in the open where everyone sees and hears the same thing in real time.
I am very unlikely to run another game in this homebrew setting, as it has to compete with other setting ideas (mine and others'), and I'd want something fresh and different. So while it is theoretically an opportunity, it is much more like a loss, as it means the stuff I thought was cool, and that the party had contributed to up to that point, won't get to see the light of play for many years and, in all likelihood, forever.
Fair enough. My settings have to last a while, as my three major campaigns thus far have all gone 10+ years.
It's pretty loose in certain ways, but not in others. Certainly less granular than D&D in most ways, though. Combat is a likely way to lose items, but don't forget that 4e is also a game I love dearly. Skill Challenges can absolutely have costs like losing a magic item, and I bring that same perspective to DW: "Undertake a Perilous Journey" might afford a player the chance to re-roll a bad roll by consuming the power of one of their magic items, if that makes sense in context (e.g. the cloak of nature concealment our Ranger wears).
Again, though, that comes down to player choice whether or not the item goes up.

I'm talking about random bad-luck loss e.g. you get hit by a fireball and that nature concealment cloak, via both you and it failing to save, just burned to ashes (and, in my game, maybe caused a wild magic surge as the magical energy held in the cloak was suddenly released).
Not exactly what I'm going for. I more mean, failure to engage with mysteries, refusal to experiment, because the unknown is scary, and scary things may take away their character, and having their character taken away means ceasing to have a presence within the world. It's a real conundrum, 'cause they really do love learning the mysteries and defeating the baddies and all that, but they've got a very "play it safe, don't rock the boat, don't do anything risky" attitude. We lack for an instigator, more or less.
Ah. I have a whole table-ful of instigators here... :) It's the skittish types who are in the minority.
Yeah, I don't think I can do this. Not just because I don't think it would go over well with the group, but because I don't feel comfortable with it myself.

I do appreciate the advice, but...honestly, this sounds like, "Do this thing, so you can play the way I do, rather than the way you do that is working for you." I don't need to teach my players to have a cavalier attitude about character death, because that attitude isn't needed to have fun in my game.

As for me, I basically only game online, and there would literally be no way for me not to game online with this group, as we live hundreds of miles apart.
Ah. I always assume in-person gaming. To me online gaming is an aberration, vastly inferior, and an evil I have to put up with only because of covid. I play it because I've no other choice, and I refuse to DM it.

And yes, an online drunken game would certainly lose much of its own appeal. :)
At least two of my players have diagnosed anxiety that can lead to panic attacks, and at least one of my players has diagnosed depression. I'm pretty sure I have both, but am not diagnosed. We don't exactly have ideal lives at present, and there's plenty of stress, loss, and unpleasant history for each of us. Having a bright world they can protect, and a secure investment into that world (even if all the rest of it can--in theory--come tumbling down), makes the crappy parts of our daily lives that much more bearable.

Beyond that? We take our fun seriously. I don't really know what else to tell you. We absolutely crack dumb jokes and have game-specific memes ("<Name>, you're in a hole. Why are you in a hole? Don't be in a hole."). We kid around and goof off. But we also see the game as a collective effort, something built, loved, shared. That has a certain seriousness to it. Just as you would not casually fling about the pieces of a hand-carved wooden chess set simply because chess is a game, even though you may say silly things when knocking over a captured piece. We have a certain serious joy that arises from the earnest engagement with the unfolding story.
Fair enough.

This might sound a bit harsh, and for this I apologize in advance, but I can't think of any other way to put it: one thing I don't and won't do is see or use the game as any sort of therapy. I expect people - including myself - to more or less leave their real-world issues at the door and, if they must, collect them on leaving. (though I sometimes joke that were they to leave them at the door and then forget to collect them on leaving, even better :) ).
I don't approve of PVP at my table. If players wish to compete for something, that's on them, but outright "one PC attacks another" stuff isn't acceptable. We can work out how to resolve the conflict one way or another, I fully support the PCs disagreeing with each other strenuously. But I'm not going to run a game where PCs plot to eliminate each other or cause harm to one another. That's a level of stress none of us need.
I see it as a logical outcome of how some characters would end up interacting. As DM, all I say is as long as it stays in-character, have at it.
That would be where I'd like to end up, yes. You wanna do crazy things that might get you killed, but might be awesome? I have your back, mango. I want to see you be awesome. I want to see you fly high. Of course, the more risks you take, the more Problems there will be, but dealing with Problems is part of the fun. I just won't take away...not so much the "opportunity" to deal with the Problems, but the possibility of doing so. A permadead character has no possibility of doing so. A living one has the possibility, but may not get the opportunity.
Where I guess I see death as just being one of the Problems; only instead of you-the-player having to deal with it the rest of the party does, in terms of either finding and attempting revival or having to go and recruit (a) replacement(s). Or both. :)
 

A not-great analogy might be that even though the team you're cheering for has been knocked out of the playoffs, you keep watching anyway to see who wins the cup.
I'll grant it's not great, though I'm not big on sports, so. When my home team gets somewhere, I pay attention; once they lose, which they usually do, I check right out. So....for me, the analogy seems to pretty clearly show what I'm talking about.

Hence, even if I don't have a character it's still worth going just to hang around.
Again, this is a different idea of "connection." You're seeing it as "having some reason to be there, at all." I'm seeing it as, "being actively involved in the process." You can't be involved unless you have a character in the game (or are DM, but that's not relevant here). You can spectate, but spectating isn't being "connected" to the game as I meant the term.

Growth of that character, yes. Growth of the campaign as a whole, no.
Yes. One of those things means player involvement. The other doesn't, unless you have a character.

They're both gambles, though, in the end.
Except they...aren't? A gamble is where you've wagered something, or you're playing for money or similar prizes. D&D, in general, isn't a game played for that kind of thing. I'm sure actual gambling happens with D&D, but that's pretty rare.

You're certainly needing to manage probability. But there are all sorts of things where you have to account for the effect of chance, that aren't gambling. And certainly they don't all reduce to a roulette wheel, which is pretty clearly the implication here.

I guess I should ask here, do you have crits and-or fumbles in your combats?
Crits, sort of; fumbles, absolutely never. I loathe fumble rules. Crits are a "sort of" because default Dungeon World doesn't have them (rolling 10+ just means success without complication), but I've invented rules for superlative success (rolling 13+) which are more or less crits. They don't tend to add raw damage per se, but more allow fantastic, impressive, or ongoing success.

But yes, I do somewhat assume that anything I can do slowly at a table using dice, as in create random content, a computer can do very quickly and in stupendous amouts more detail using RNGs.
The problem is that randomly generating content isn't enough. If you just used a very simple RNG to generate a new world, you'd have a horrific nightmare mess of a layout, because actually random things rarely "look right" or make sense. You at least know that Minecraft has the blocks of dirt and rock and such, right? A simple RNG--one that can work at the speed you describe--would output things that fill an entire cell with random materials in every cube of space. That's not going to make hills and fields and interesting veins of rock, it's going to be a mostly-solid block of bizarrely interleaved things.

To produce something that is just random enough that it can create content on demand, but structured enough that the things it outputs are (in your racing game analogy) actually roads you can drive on and that actually fit together, you have to do a LOT of work. Even the "simplicity" of a game like Minecraft requires very significant effort just to ensure that (for example) you have a relatively consistent ground level that can still slope up or have cliffs or holes or whatever. Things that seem trivially obvious to humans can be fiendishly difficult to code a computer to do. I'd actually say that the more simple and boneheaded a thing seems, the more likely it is that it will be very hard to code, because computers do not think and cannot apply judgment or sensibility or reason to their calculations.

If they weren't, there'd be little if any need for referees. How many hockey players get through a season with 0 penalty minutes?
That's....not cheating. If it were cheating, anyone who ever caused a foul would be removed from professional play, maybe forever. Or at least fined a bunch. "Cheating" is an extremely serious offense. Committing a foul or similar such things can quite easily be a strategic move. "Cheating" means something far more than that, it's fundamentally dishonest and harmful to the spirit of the game. Fouling an opponent, in and of itself, is not harmful to the spirit of the game. Cheating is morally wrong. Unless a player is being particularly heinous with fouls (e.g. trying to actually injure a fellow player), there's no moral weight to mere fouls.

And, again, these ideas have no comparison whatsoever in D&D. You can't "foul" another player, there's not even the vaguest concept of it. But you absolutely can cheat, such as falsifying dice rolls or "accidentally" forgetting to record damage that would kill your character. Are you saying people SHOULD do these things????

The not-so-altruistic reason: because it's the duty of the player to advocate for his/her character using whatever means the game provides.
So, you would have absolutely no problem with a player secretly using weighted dice that ensure he crits 50% of the time, as long as he never gets caught using that die? You would be completely fine with a player who edits her character sheet to increase her AC when she feels like it, and always shaves off five damage when reducing her HP, as long as no one noticed during play?

I'm honestly, deeply shocked that you are legitimately suggesting that cheating is a perfectly acceptable behavior and if people don't engage in it, they're self-sabotaging idiots.

I was referring to a DM's final word being a means of ending arguments.
It's been a bit now, but: I still don't understand how this principle is relevant to what I'd said at the time, which was (1) I would find it highly disrespectful for a player to treat my gesture of positivity, which I openly told them was such a thing, as an invitation to flagrantly abuse the hell out of it; (2) I don't kill off characters just randomly, despite allowing the dice to give uncertainty, because I-as-DM decide what options the dice are allowed to pick between, and thus don't let the dice feature "character permadeath" as an option; and (3) I don't understand how you DON'T see "aha, exploit this for EVERY LAST DROP!!" as deeply disrespectful to someone trying to be nice to you.

It would be like if I had initially said, "I'll buy a meal for a homeless person if they need one, whatever restaurant they'd like," and then you replied, "Aha, so I just have to order thousands of dollars worth of food!" Then, when I tell you that response is disrespectful, you respond with, "Well, the bank is the ultimate authority on how much you can spend." Like....okay?? Yes, that's true, but it seems entirely irrelevant to whether or not it's incredibly rude and disrespectful to take an offer of a nice meal when you're down on your luck and turn it into "sap this dweeb of every penny he has."

I think your bar for respectful and mine are set at considerably different heights. :) I mean, I don't much care if someone I know well insults me all day long; I'm used to it, I'll rarely if ever take it personally, and I'll just give back what I get if I have to. And we'll both probably be laughing the whole time.
Likely different. I can handle SOME joking. But if a so-called friend "insults me all day long," I will eventually take it personally, and I probably won't consider that person a friend that much longer. Beyond that, though, if someone actively twists my words and exploits my generosity for absolute maximum personal benefit, damn the rationality of it? Yeah, I'm not going to be that person's friend anymore. And I don't think I'm being excessive when I say that that's the kind of thing I expect someone to do to people they literally couldn't care less about.

Better to have it out in the open where everyone sees and hears the same thing in real time.
Then you are highly unusual, in my experience. The vast majority of people, when "called out" in public, will feel they are being publicly shamed, and that you are personally attacking them. I am (and I know this is sort of a running theme here) really really REALLY surprised that you've never had a problem with someone else because of this.

Of course, I also speak honestly with people, and maintain confidentiality if requested, but otherwise just speak plainly. I don't hide things well from anyone, let alone my friends, so I just stick to the truth, or don't speak.

Fair enough. My settings have to last a while, as my three major campaigns thus far have all gone 10+ years.
The game I'm running now is the longest game I've participated in, period. I've had other games run into the 2-ish-years range, but definitely none of them have hit three.

Again, though, that comes down to player choice whether or not the item goes up. I'm talking about random bad-luck loss e.g. you get hit by a fireball and that nature concealment cloak, via both you and it failing to save, just burned to ashes (and, in my game, maybe caused a wild magic surge as the magical energy held in the cloak was suddenly released).
I mean, that can also result from missing a roll. I just don't tend to do that sort of thing, because I don't...really like doing that? I could, but I'd rather not. Now, if there were solid in-fiction reasons for it--especially if the player had already been warned they were taking a risk--then I could see it, one of those "you were warned, now it's time to pay the piper" situations. But otherwise, yeah, I don't tend to just rip items away from players for no reason. I tend to favor the "signature items" type situation anyway, where players only really HAVE a small number of personally important items, not all of which need be very powerful. That further reduces my enthusiasm for just destroying items outright, because it's more of a big deal if you lose one of your three signature magic items than if you lose one of your 17 magic items that the game's math expects you to have (looking at you, 3.x!)

Ah. I have a whole table-ful of instigators here... :) It's the skittish types who are in the minority.
Yeah, it's definitely different. In an instigator-heavy game, I would almost certainly need to have a firmer hand on the tiller, as it were. In this one, it's basically the opposite; I have to encourage them to try things.

This might sound a bit harsh, and for this I apologize in advance, but I can't think of any other way to put it: one thing I don't and won't do is see or use the game as any sort of therapy.
Oh, I don't use my game as therapy at all. I just know that the issues I've mentioned are really hard to "leave at the door," because they strike pretty deeply into the very thoughts of the person in question. An abuse survivor is going to have a visceral response to other people being abused, that's basically unavoidable and I don't really think it's fair of me to ask an abuse survivor to (as it were) "conceal, don't feel." A player who has had a miscarriage, for an alternative example, is almost certainly going to be very sensitive about how pregnant NPCs are treated, so it's just not realistic to say, "Hey, that horribly painful event that happened to you last year? yeah don't think about that when we play. Even if something happens in-game that totally should remind you of it, just...stop those thoughts, alright?"

I do, however, try to make a game that (a) is unlikely to dredge up unpleasant personal memories or draw out personal anxiety, and (b) offers chances for the players to be more than they are IRL without being overly harsh when that doesn't pay off. (I can still be harsh, but there's a difference between "downer ending" and rubbing the players' faces in it, if that makes sense.) I'm fairly certain, for example, that defeating the Song of Thorns was a very cathartic experience for one of my players. I didn't plan that fight with even the whiff of a speculation of an intent to make it a cathartic experience for that player; I planned it based on what made sense, the threat level of the spirit in question, and the resources they had and/or could yet acquire. That it (probably) ended up a cathartic experience was a very nice perk.

I see it as a logical outcome of how some characters would end up interacting. As DM, all I say is as long as it stays in-character, have at it.
Okay. How does that square with your "ooh, now I can jump into lava" concept? Because that strikes me as blatantly out-of-character.

Where I guess I see death as just being one of the Problems; only instead of you-the-player having to deal with it the rest of the party does, in terms of either finding and attempting revival or having to go and recruit (a) replacement(s). Or both. :)
I mean, I am still actually willing to have a character die--they just would continue playing that character while it's dead, or while in some other environment, or whatever. That's Separate the Characters, for one, but for two, it's a potentially super interesting direction to take things. Like Zagreus fighting his way out of Hades!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'll grant it's not great, though I'm not big on sports, so. When my home team gets somewhere, I pay attention; once they lose, which they usually do, I check right out. So....for me, the analogy seems to pretty clearly show what I'm talking about.
Got it.
Again, this is a different idea of "connection." You're seeing it as "having some reason to be there, at all." I'm seeing it as, "being actively involved in the process." You can't be involved unless you have a character in the game (or are DM, but that's not relevant here). You can spectate, but spectating isn't being "connected" to the game as I meant the term.
Depends. Sometimes IME spectating (or guest-piloting an NPC) can be just as engaging as playing my own PC. Other times, not so much; dependent on a host of variables including my own mood at the time.
Except they...aren't? A gamble is where you've wagered something, or you're playing for money or similar prizes. D&D, in general, isn't a game played for that kind of thing. I'm sure actual gambling happens with D&D, but that's pretty rare.

You're certainly needing to manage probability. But there are all sorts of things where you have to account for the effect of chance, that aren't gambling. And certainly they don't all reduce to a roulette wheel, which is pretty clearly the implication here.
Any time chance is involved in any game, there's a gamble (i.e. luck). Doesn't matter the odds, or what you can do to mitigate said odds.

In this case, in a broad sense your PC itself is the stakes. A win means you get it back, probably improved somehow e.g. with more levels/xp and-or more wealth/items, etc. A tie means you get it back but without improvement, or where any improvements have been in effect cancelled out by disimprovements. A loss means you don't get it back, or what you get back isn't what you put in (e.g. after Reincarnation).
Crits, sort of; fumbles, absolutely never. I loathe fumble rules.
Where I love 'em. Perhaps that comes from approaching the game from more of a whimsical angle, I don't know.
The problem is that randomly generating content isn't enough. If you just used a very simple RNG to generate a new world, you'd have a horrific nightmare mess of a layout, because actually random things rarely "look right" or make sense. You at least know that Minecraft has the blocks of dirt and rock and such, right?
I'll take your word for this.
A simple RNG--one that can work at the speed you describe--would output things that fill an entire cell with random materials in every cube of space. That's not going to make hills and fields and interesting veins of rock, it's going to be a mostly-solid block of bizarrely interleaved things.

To produce something that is just random enough that it can create content on demand, but structured enough that the things it outputs are (in your racing game analogy) actually roads you can drive on and that actually fit together, you have to do a LOT of work. Even the "simplicity" of a game like Minecraft requires very significant effort just to ensure that (for example) you have a relatively consistent ground level that can still slope up or have cliffs or holes or whatever. Things that seem trivially obvious to humans can be fiendishly difficult to code a computer to do. I'd actually say that the more simple and boneheaded a thing seems, the more likely it is that it will be very hard to code, because computers do not think and cannot apply judgment or sensibility or reason to their calculations.
Which seems counterintuitive in a way, but OK.
That's....not cheating. If it were cheating, anyone who ever caused a foul would be removed from professional play, maybe forever. Or at least fined a bunch. "Cheating" is an extremely serious offense. Committing a foul or similar such things can quite easily be a strategic move. "Cheating" means something far more than that, it's fundamentally dishonest and harmful to the spirit of the game. Fouling an opponent, in and of itself, is not harmful to the spirit of the game. Cheating is morally wrong. Unless a player is being particularly heinous with fouls (e.g. trying to actually injure a fellow player), there's no moral weight to mere fouls.
You're defining cheating as something different than I am, in this case. I'm defining cheating to include anything that breaks a rule of the game. Committing a foul, by definition, means you're breaking a rule of the game; and fouls as a strategic move are exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about - you're pushing the boundaries of what's allowed.

There isn't really a term that suits "lesser cheating" such as typical basketball fouls or hockey penalties.
And, again, these ideas have no comparison whatsoever in D&D. You can't "foul" another player, there's not even the vaguest concept of it. But you absolutely can cheat, such as falsifying dice rolls or "accidentally" forgetting to record damage that would kill your character. Are you saying people SHOULD do these things????
Not at all, though I can see how you'd get here given I used the term 'cheating'. But what other term is there to cover testing the borders or similar, within what the game in theory allows and-or accounts for such as fouls in basketball or rules exploits in D&D?
So, you would have absolutely no problem with a player secretly using weighted dice that ensure he crits 50% of the time, as long as he never gets caught using that die? You would be completely fine with a player who edits her character sheet to increase her AC when she feels like it, and always shaves off five damage when reducing her HP, as long as no one noticed during play?

I'm honestly, deeply shocked that you are legitimately suggesting that cheating is a perfectly acceptable behavior and if people don't engage in it, they're self-sabotaging idiots.
I'm not suggesting or supporting any of this and in fact am very much opposed to it.

I'm not opposed, however, to players trying* things that are technically legal (or accepted) by RAW but maybe not quite what the game expects. My charades example upthread where I just find the word and point to it is such a thing: it's not against the rules of the game but the game as written sure doesn't expect someone to think outside the box enough to do it.

* - note that I say "trying" here; I also feel it's the DM's job to shut these things down by houserule if they threaten to ruin the game, preferably before they're discovered and certainly when they are.
It's been a bit now, but: I still don't understand how this principle is relevant to what I'd said at the time, which was (1) I would find it highly disrespectful for a player to treat my gesture of positivity, which I openly told them was such a thing, as an invitation to flagrantly abuse the hell out of it; (2) I don't kill off characters just randomly, despite allowing the dice to give uncertainty, because I-as-DM decide what options the dice are allowed to pick between, and thus don't let the dice feature "character permadeath" as an option; and (3) I don't understand how you DON'T see "aha, exploit this for EVERY LAST DROP!!" as deeply disrespectful to someone trying to be nice to you.
I see it as much more black and white: either you have character death in the game or you don't. Games where there's no character death - as it initially appared was your modus operandi - are the sort of thing I was suggesting are non-believable at best and ridiculously exploitable at worst.

However, you've since said that you do have character death in your games; which to me then makes death a valid option for the dice to spit out at random every now and then, even if rarely, just like any other bad outcome.

Then you are highly unusual, in my experience. The vast majority of people, when "called out" in public, will feel they are being publicly shamed, and that you are personally attacking them. I am (and I know this is sort of a running theme here) really really REALLY surprised that you've never had a problem with someone else because of this.

Of course, I also speak honestly with people, and maintain confidentiality if requested, but otherwise just speak plainly. I don't hide things well from anyone, let alone my friends, so I just stick to the truth, or don't speak.
It's the same conversation whether in public or in private. Making it public merely removes any after-the-fact plausible deniability for one's words, as there's others present.
The game I'm running now is the longest game I've participated in, period. I've had other games run into the 2-ish-years range, but definitely none of them have hit three.
Three? You're just getting nicely underway. :)
I mean, that can also result from missing a roll. I just don't tend to do that sort of thing, because I don't...really like doing that? I could, but I'd rather not. Now, if there were solid in-fiction reasons for it--especially if the player had already been warned they were taking a risk--then I could see it, one of those "you were warned, now it's time to pay the piper" situations. But otherwise, yeah, I don't tend to just rip items away from players for no reason. I tend to favor the "signature items" type situation anyway, where players only really HAVE a small number of personally important items, not all of which need be very powerful. That further reduces my enthusiasm for just destroying items outright, because it's more of a big deal if you lose one of your three signature magic items than if you lose one of your 17 magic items that the game's math expects you to have (looking at you, 3.x!)
Maybe not quite to the 3e extent I tend to prefer magic items be more easy come, easy go. IME players love getting new toys, so unless I want their PCs to get buried in stuff there needs to be a relatively-common mechanical means of removal or loss other than arbitrary numbers-in-possession limits, which IMO are poor design. Breakage and destruction covers this, more or less, along with Dispel Magic* for the minor stuff e.g. scrolls and potions.

This is where 3e dropped the ball: they kept the easy-come part but really chopped back on the easy-go. Sadly, 5e seems to have also chopped back the easy-come part.

* - I use the 1e version of Dispel Magic: an indiscriminate area-of-effect spell that tries to take out any magic in its AoE. Gawds help the caster who fumbles with one of these and drops it on his own party...which I've seen done many a time. (I've also had it happen to opponents, much to their annoyance, courtesy of some crap rolling on my part)
Yeah, it's definitely different. In an instigator-heavy game, I would almost certainly need to have a firmer hand on the tiller, as it were. In this one, it's basically the opposite; I have to encourage them to try things.
In that, for what it's worth, you have my sympathy.
Oh, I don't use my game as therapy at all. I just know that the issues I've mentioned are really hard to "leave at the door," because they strike pretty deeply into the very thoughts of the person in question. An abuse survivor is going to have a visceral response to other people being abused, that's basically unavoidable and I don't really think it's fair of me to ask an abuse survivor to (as it were) "conceal, don't feel." A player who has had a miscarriage, for an alternative example, is almost certainly going to be very sensitive about how pregnant NPCs are treated, so it's just not realistic to say, "Hey, that horribly painful event that happened to you last year? yeah don't think about that when we play. Even if something happens in-game that totally should remind you of it, just...stop those thoughts, alright?"
Fair enough. I'm talking more temporary things such as being torqued off with your boss or having just broken up with your latest partner, that sort of thing.
I do, however, try to make a game that (a) is unlikely to dredge up unpleasant personal memories or draw out personal anxiety, and (b) offers chances for the players to be more than they are IRL without being overly harsh when that doesn't pay off. (I can still be harsh, but there's a difference between "downer ending" and rubbing the players' faces in it, if that makes sense.)
I also want them to be able to be more than they are in real life, but it's on perhaps more of a high risk-high reward basis than what you have.
I'm fairly certain, for example, that defeating the Song of Thorns was a very cathartic experience for one of my players. I didn't plan that fight with even the whiff of a speculation of an intent to make it a cathartic experience for that player; I planned it based on what made sense, the threat level of the spirit in question, and the resources they had and/or could yet acquire. That it (probably) ended up a cathartic experience was a very nice perk.
That's quite cool.
Okay. How does that square with your "ooh, now I can jump into lava" concept? Because that strikes me as blatantly out-of-character.
Not sure what you mean here.

If two characters decide they dislike each other, and it slowly escalates over time (for whatever reasons) to the point where they throw down or where one walks out of the party or plots death against the other, how is that out-of-character? If anything, it seems to me to be more truly in-character than "finding a way to make it work" would be.
I mean, I am still actually willing to have a character die--they just would continue playing that character while it's dead, or while in some other environment, or whatever. That's Separate the Characters, for one, but for two, it's a potentially super interesting direction to take things. Like Zagreus fighting his way out of Hades!
That would kinda run aground on my cosmology etc., as I have it that while the dead generally retain memories of their time alive, those revived don't have any memories whatsoever of their time dead.

I actually tried a play on this recently with one of my own PCs; the poor guy's mind is messed up six ways from Sunday anyway (very long story!) so I thought with his latest revival (of many!) I'd reverse it: he came back with memories of the land of the dead but almost none at all of being alive other than his name and a few stray bits from his childhood. He had no idea who these strange people were who had just brought him back to life and who seemed to know him; he thought he was still in Niflheim and wondered why there weren't any Frost Giants to fight. The other PCs cured him of this, eventually, but it was an interesting take while it lasted.
 

Any time chance is involved in any game, there's a gamble (i.e. luck). Doesn't matter the odds, or what you can do to mitigate said odds.
To me, "gamble" means absolute no-control roulette-wheel stuff--and also very, very strongly implies "the house always wins." I just...can't see D&D as gambling, and can't structure "I am wagering my ability to keep playing." I play for the story, the discovery. The very idea of it being a "wager" is just alien to that; like saying that reading a book at night before bed is a wager to see if you get to keep the book or have it stolen by gnomes when you fall asleep.

Which seems counterintuitive in a way, but OK.
The problem is, humans are damn near infinitely better at generalized pattern-matching than computers. Computers are insanely good at very fine-detail detection and storing vast quantities of data, but almost unimaginably bad at drawing conclusions from data. Where it is trivial--indeed for some a game--for us to speculate on how disparate parts could fit together into something interesting, a computer is often incapable of such reasoning.

I mean, consider that famous (infamous?) text-generating software, GPT-2 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 2), the one that was able to make surprisingly cogent paragraphs of text based on minimal prompts. In order for it to generate something that merely looked good over the course of three paragraphs, it had to be trained on literally millions of scraped webpages. Anything longer than about 20 sentences and you start seeing the cracks, where it becomes obvious that a human didn't write it (e.g. talking about unicorns with six horns). This is one of the most advanced "random generation" tools humanity has ever made, and it can't even write a five-paragraph essay as well as a human child can. Now, of course, generating content randomly within a computer program is a much, much simpler task syntactically (structure) and semantically (meaning), but it is still very difficult to do. Even just guaranteeing an error-free structure, e.g. where every "outgoing" road from one block connects to an "incoming" road on the next block takes a LOT of effort.

Or, to use a reversed analogy (where computers are identifying things, rather than creating them): A computer trained to tell the difference between dogs, cats, and birds is incapable of even conceiving what a horse is. It will classify that horse by how its fine structure elements fit into its dog/cat/bird hierarchy, and it will give the best fit that it can. That computer can have a 99.999% accuracy at identifying the stuff it's trained to do, and yet have literally no better than chance (and possibly worse than chance) accuracy for identifying literally anything it wasn't trained to do. Computers simply lack the human ability to generalize, form abstractions, or analogize, and lacking those skills makes them shockingly bad at generating anything that "makes sense," unless you do an awful lot of work first.

There isn't really a term that suits "lesser cheating" such as typical basketball fouls or hockey penalties.
I suppose that's fair, but I would put forward that there is a term: fouls. That's why they have a name, one that is different from cheating.

I'm not opposed, however, to players trying* things that are technically legal (or accepted) by RAW but maybe not quite what the game expects. <snip>* - note that I say "trying" here; I also feel it's the DM's job to shut these things down by houserule if they threaten to ruin the game, preferably before they're discovered and certainly when they are.


I see it as much more black and white: either you have character death in the game or you don't.

However, you've since said that you do have character death in your games; which to me then makes death a valid option for the dice to spit out at random every now and then, even if rarely, just like any other bad outcome.
Under the right circumstances, I may allow it to go forward--but only because I can see a way to address it in reasonable fashion. Or, as previously said, because the player has embraced it. None of my players have yet (well, other than one who I talked out of it), but if they grew tired of playing a specific character, I'd work with them to build a suitable exit from the game. Retirement, death, whatever makes sense.

I don't permit the dice to have results that wouldn't be enjoyable for us as players (counting myself). But "enjoyable for us as players" does not mean "always happy sunshine puppies and rainbows." The phrase DW uses is, "Be a fan of the characters," and this is elaborated by comparison to being a fan of a character in a book or TV show. If nothing bad or wrong or weird ever happens to the character, it's going to be less enjoyable than if those things DO happen. But if I'm anxious about, or (even worse) certain of the characters dying off, I just tune out. There's no point in caring if you know it's going to be taken away from you; may as well just never invest in the first place so it won't hurt when it happens.

So, since I decide what options the dice are allowed to spit out, I exclude the results that would ruin the fun, but not the ones that would make the process worth my time as DM. Wish fulfillment is like caramel, tasty but both empty and liable to leave you queasy if you take too much at once. A savory meal may not give you that instant gratification rush, but it's filling, it sticks to you, it satisfies. And that meal will almost surely involve bitter and sour things alongside the sweet and savory--but they'll be bitter and sour in the right proportion to make a good meal. That's what I'm doing; controlling how much bitter and sour end up in the finished product, and saying, "Hey, maybe we shouldn't say every beer should be as heavily hopped as a double IPA. Maybe it's good that people who want a refreshing semisweet radler can get one."

It's the same conversation whether in public or in private. Making it public merely removes any after-the-fact plausible deniability for one's words, as there's others present.
It also means that you're, as noted, throwing someone's faults in their face before God and everyone. Again, to the best of my knowledge, most people on the receiving end of this kind of statement prefer to discuss problems or misbehavior relatively privately. Some then like to make a joint statement (to, as you say, avoid "he said, she said" issues), while others prefer to just move on without "kicking up a fuss," as it were.

If we were IRL friends and you (for example) waited until a group lunch to tell me, "So, I really hate it that you never show up on time to things like our game, you gotta cut that out," I would be very upset with you. I would feel you had intentionally shamed me in front of friends, no matter how true your statements might be, and that you were acting rather hostilely toward me. If you had instead taken the time to speak to me privately, and said, "So, I really hate it that you never show up on time to the game, I need you to cut that out," I would feel that you cared more about addressing the problem than about making a public scene of my dressing-down.

And that's one of the ways people can just be really bloody different. I'm a very private person. I don't like being thrust into the spotlight. (Yes, this has made DMing interesting. I'm still not sure I'm used to it.) Being forcibly thrust into it, and not only that but in a way that specifically highlights my faults/errors/problems, is basically guaranteeing that I'm going to shut down and try to escape. And, again assuming we were IRL friends, this would do some pretty serious damage to our friendship. Not unrecoverable, but bad enough that I'd be seriously considering just breaking it off there. I get that you despise the idea of duplicitous double-talk, of people twisting something out of context, and that ensuring that something has witnesses forestalls such tactics. But, again, I am extremely surprised that "I only call people out in front of groups of friends, so there will be witnesses" has never caused harm to any of your relationships.

Fair enough. I'm talking more temporary things such as being torqued off with your boss or having just broken up with your latest partner, that sort of thing.
After I wrote most of that, it occurred to me that this was probably what you meant. And yes, I generally expect my players to not bring that in. It's not always easy, but we manage.

Not sure what you mean here.
I wasn't so much talking about the PVP, as the "as long as it stays in-character" phrase. Because "I'm going to have my character jump into lava, because you told me my character won't die," is pretty blatantly out-of-character reasoning for a behavior. Why does the one OOC thing not qualify, but the other is perfectly okay?

As for the PVP itself, (1) I encourage my players to find reasons for their characters to get along, because I just do not want to deal with the headache of PVP, and (2) given that I explicitly do not run games for Evil characters, any internal conflicts that arise are expected to be handled in nonviolent ways, or at the very least non-harmful ones. (Knocking a dude out because he won't listen to reason right this second is about as "violent" as I'd allow.)

Yes, this does mean that I'm telling my players, "Please don't play belligerent characters likely to come to blows with each other." Not one person has ever complained about this in the dozen-ish players I've had.

That would kinda run aground on my cosmology etc., as I have it that while the dead generally retain memories of their time alive, those revived don't have any memories whatsoever of their time dead.
And that is quite fair. I have kept exactly what happens to the dead mysterious (and have not fully nailed it down myself, so that I have to improvise when the time comes). The players know there's a Spirit World, superimposed over their own, where both abstract and dead spirits linger before going...elsewhere, but no dead person who has been resurrected has been able to say anything about what that "elsewhere" is. I do feel, though, that "you DO remember something...and you're not sure why you do, when nobody else ever does" is an AMAZING story hook for a character, something that could drive months or years of adventure. Sort of like when I introduced the notion: "There are demons and devils, wizards have whole libraries of information about them. But angels? There's no proof they've ever existed, other than ancient religious texts that can't be verified." That has been a simmering plot for some time now, and I know quite well how much this piqued the players' curiosity when I said it.

I actually tried a play on this recently with one of my own PCs; <snip> The other PCs cured him of this, eventually, but it was an interesting take while it lasted.
That sounds lovely! I don't know if I'd do that precise thing, but that's in the ballpark. Make the death, resurrection, and return to normalcy a story unto itself.
 

Maybe not quite to the 3e extent I tend to prefer magic items be more easy come, easy go. IME players love getting new toys, so unless I want their PCs to get buried in stuff there needs to be a relatively-common mechanical means of removal or loss other than arbitrary numbers-in-possession limits, which IMO are poor design. Breakage and destruction covers this, more or less, along with Dispel Magic* for the minor stuff e.g. scrolls and potions.

This is where 3e dropped the ball: they kept the easy-come part but really chopped back on the easy-go. Sadly, 5e seems to have also chopped back the easy-come part.

* - I use the 1e version of Dispel Magic: an indiscriminate area-of-effect spell that tries to take out any magic in its AoE. Gawds help the caster who fumbles with one of these and drops it on his own party...which I've seen done many a time. (I've also had it happen to opponents, much to their annoyance, courtesy of some crap rolling on my part)

I
To an extent 3.x handled that through slot affiliates and magic item progression to force some degree of churn. If a player got a +1 item early on it would need to be a +2 after a while to maintain the same level of amazing in relation to what players faced and in other cases a ghost touch +0 holy +0 or whatever might be dramatically better than a +2 while in others the +2 was best. Meanwhile if a gm did something like realize a magic item was too good they could use those in combination to solve it by way of forcing a choice between keeping up without that item or falling behind the curve of expectation with it.
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5e as you note 5e got rid of both in favor of one size fits all attunement, added (non)magic bludgeoning piercing slashing as the only thing needed, and took a step further with abounded accuracy assumeing no magic item progression to ensure there is no churn of items and that they never reach a point of not being effective enough to create all new problems while bringing back old ones.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
To me, "gamble" means absolute no-control roulette-wheel stuff--and also very, very strongly implies "the house always wins."
Where here "gamble" means anything where you're putting something at risk in hopes of gaining a benefit, regardless of whether the house always wins or not.

The stock market, to me, is a gamble.
The problem is, humans are damn near infinitely better at generalized pattern-matching than computers. Computers are insanely good at very fine-detail detection and storing vast quantities of data, but almost unimaginably bad at drawing conclusions from data. Where it is trivial--indeed for some a game--for us to speculate on how disparate parts could fit together into something interesting, a computer is often incapable of such reasoning.
For now. AI is progressing in mighty leaps and bounds these days. :)
Under the right circumstances, I may allow it to go forward--but only because I can see a way to address it in reasonable fashion. Or, as previously said, because the player has embraced it. None of my players have yet (well, other than one who I talked out of it), but if they grew tired of playing a specific character, I'd work with them to build a suitable exit from the game. Retirement, death, whatever makes sense.
I leave this in the hands of the player, as that's who the character belongs to. A player is free to retire a character at any time, and I-as-DM have no input into it other than if the retirement's taking place in some bizarre off-plane location I'd probably ask "are you sure?".

This is common in my games. Players have several PCs each in the setting, built up over time, and cycle them in and out between adventures however they desire.
I don't permit the dice to have results that wouldn't be enjoyable for us as players (counting myself). But "enjoyable for us as players" does not mean "always happy sunshine puppies and rainbows." The phrase DW uses is, "Be a fan of the characters," and this is elaborated by comparison to being a fan of a character in a book or TV show. If nothing bad or wrong or weird ever happens to the character, it's going to be less enjoyable than if those things DO happen. But if I'm anxious about, or (even worse) certain of the characters dying off, I just tune out.
Death at some point is nearly certain; and low-level play tends to churn through characters unless either a) the players are much more cautious than usual, b) the PCs are much luckier than usual, or c) I throw softball adventures at them.

At higher level, death is still going to happen but attempts at revival become a possibility (a near-certainty once you've got a party member capable of casting Raise Dead in the field). However, as I'm running a 1e variant, revival is never a sure thing: there's almost always a small chance it doesn't work.
It also means that you're, as noted, throwing someone's faults in their face before God and everyone. Again, to the best of my knowledge, most people on the receiving end of this kind of statement prefer to discuss problems or misbehavior relatively privately. Some then like to make a joint statement (to, as you say, avoid "he said, she said" issues), while others prefer to just move on without "kicking up a fuss," as it were.

If we were IRL friends and you (for example) waited until a group lunch to tell me, "So, I really hate it that you never show up on time to things like our game, you gotta cut that out," I would be very upset with you.
I wouldn't wait for the lunch, I'd call you out at the game when you arrived late for the umpteenth time. Why at the game but not the lunch? Because present (in theory) at the game are the other people who are directly affected and who thus might have a stake in the matter: the rest of the players. The conversation matters to them, it doesn't matter to some other non-gaming friends at a lunch.

I have a player who's nearly always late, not just to games but to anything. He's been called out on it many times by several DMs over many years but nothing changes, it's just how he is; and so if everyone else is on time we just start without him.
I wasn't so much talking about the PVP, as the "as long as it stays in-character" phrase. Because "I'm going to have my character jump into lava, because you told me my character won't die," is pretty blatantly out-of-character reasoning for a behavior. Why does the one OOC thing not qualify, but the other is perfectly okay?
The lava example is intentionally taking it right over the top, in order to show at the player level the Looney Tunes ultra-gonzo that becomes possible in a true no-death game and thus maybe to convince the DM that this policy might need a serious rethink. Normally no character of mine would do anything quite that stupid (though a few have come close!).
As for the PVP itself, (1) I encourage my players to find reasons for their characters to get along, because I just do not want to deal with the headache of PVP, and (2) given that I explicitly do not run games for Evil characters, any internal conflicts that arise are expected to be handled in nonviolent ways, or at the very least non-harmful ones. (Knocking a dude out because he won't listen to reason right this second is about as "violent" as I'd allow.)
I allow any alignment. Sometimes they get along, sometimes they don't; and the true headaches tend to winnow themselves out over the long run (sometimes in wildly entertaining ways).

Again, having lots of character turnover through death and-or retirement/cycling helps with this; in that a character who's a bad fit for one party might be perfect for another.
And that is quite fair. I have kept exactly what happens to the dead mysterious (and have not fully nailed it down myself, so that I have to improvise when the time comes). The players know there's a Spirit World, superimposed over their own, where both abstract and dead spirits linger before going...elsewhere, but no dead person who has been resurrected has been able to say anything about what that "elsewhere" is. I do feel, though, that "you DO remember something...and you're not sure why you do, when nobody else ever does" is an AMAZING story hook for a character, something that could drive months or years of adventure. Sort of like when I introduced the notion: "There are demons and devils, wizards have whole libraries of information about them. But angels? There's no proof they've ever existed, other than ancient religious texts that can't be verified." That has been a simmering plot for some time now, and I know quite well how much this piqued the players' curiosity when I said it.
My lot know angels exist mostly because on at least two occasions one's been gated in - annoyed at being disturbed - due to a wild magic surge. :)
That sounds lovely! I don't know if I'd do that precise thing, but that's in the ballpark. Make the death, resurrection, and return to normalcy a story unto itself.
I wouldn't want to impose it as DM, though.
 

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