D&D General Hot Take: Uncertainty Makes D&D Better

In a normal PbtA game there is no difference between snake eyes and any other result of a 6 or less (rolling 2d6 plus stat). There will always be something significant on a failure.

Yes. But it also does not higlight the difference between 2d6 and 1d20. Even +5 bonus would not have helped.

I want to know how the tent curve actually enhances the game. Why it is important that each +1 bonus is worth twice as much, because the DC is 7. The middle of the tent curve.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
To say that because there are smaller numerical outcomes with Scum & Villainy means there is less uncertainty is odd. The game has, by default, three outcomes for its rolls. Three possible outcomes rather than two... more possible outcomes means more uncertainty. And this is without even getting into all the different options that the third result, success with complication, offers.
Minor Correction: S&V (like BitD) actually has four outcomes for its rolls: failure (high die 3 or less), partial success (high die 4/5), full success (high die 6), and finally critical success (two or more high die 6s).
 

Reynard

Legend
Talking solely about the range seems to miss the point of uncertainty. If a system is pass or fail, what does it really matter if we're using a d20 with a small range, or d100 with a big range? We still know it's either going to pass or fail. If the DC or TN is known, then there's not uncertainty... the odds are known. There can be surprise in the form of an unlikely result occurring, but that's pretty much true of any system that uses dice.

To say that because there are smaller numerical outcomes with Scum & Villainy means there is less uncertainty is odd. The game has, by default, three outcomes for its rolls. Three possible outcomes rather than two... more possible outcomes means more uncertainty. And this is without even getting into all the different options that the third result, success with complication, offers.

Again, I think if your point is just that versions of D&D that utilize more random generation offer something that's missing from more curated versions of D&D, sure, that's an interesting take. If that's what you wanted to discuss, then I think you did yourself a disservice by comparing D&D to story games because it doesn't seem like a take that you can effectively back up.
Except I wasn't talking "solely" about the range of results. I said that the range of results is limited AND the play is already constrained by adherence to a coherent fiction. That combination makes story game play less uncertain. You can disagree with that take but I certainly can back it up.

You are right about one thing though: people are coming out of the woodwork to attack that specific notion rather than engage with the actual discussion at hand.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
Minor Correction: S&V (like BitD) actually has four outcomes for its rolls: failure (high die 3 or less), partial success (high die 4/5), full success (high die 6), and finally critical success (two or more high die 6s).

Very true, thank you!

I think I was trying to keep things fairly simple because invoking critical success would then be argued that D&D has more than two outcomes, too! I didn't want to get into how doing a little extra damage isn't really a significant change in result.

Except I wasn't talking "solely" about the range of results. I said that the range of results is limited AND the play is already constrained by adherence to a coherent fiction. That combination makes story game play less uncertain. You can disagree with that take but I certainly can back it up.

D&D isn't constrained by adherence to a coherent fiction?

Yeah, please elaborate on that!

You are right about one thing though: people are coming out of the woodwork to attack that specific notion rather than engage with the actual discussion at hand.

Well if that's not what you wanted to discuss, then you shouldn't even have mentioned it.
 

Yes. But it also does not higlight the difference between 2d6 and 1d20. Even +5 bonus would not have helped.

I want to know how the tent curve actually enhances the game. Why it is important that each +1 bonus is worth twice as much, because the DC is 7. The middle of the tent curve.
Because there are two points on the curve that matter. Both 7 and 10. And moving the bell curve over them leads to a much better balance as long as you keep within the workable range (which is small).
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Yes, but that's a bit out of context. The game gives the DM absolute authority. If the DM abuses that authority, and there are many ways that can be done, then he's going to and should lose his players. I've never advocated that the DM use that authority any way he wants at any time he wants to. It's like the Spiderman quote. With great power comes great responsibility.
A distinction without a difference. You declare the power is absolute. The person I replied to said they'd never seen anyone do so. That you claim it, regardless of context, is the only relevant fact here.

A statement that entitled players exist, and even that they are increasing in number as the community grows (not especially statistically relevant) is in no way an assertion that all or even most players are entitled.
It sure as hell is when you present it as you did. It's very clear what you were saying.
It might surprise you to learn that I consider equitable results and the inclusion of players in the adjudication process to be central to good dungeon mastery.
Yes, it absolutely would, because that's not absolute power if you actually include them. And if you don't actually include them, it's not equitable results and player inclusion.

If I fudge results for my own dubious benefit, it serves no one, least of all me, and you'd know this if you'd bothered to read my post beyond your trigger words.
I tried. There wasn't much to read. Nice jab though, "trigger words" is another incredibly loaded phrase. Guess loaded language is only a problem when I use it?

The dungeon master is the last word at the table because someone has to be. Consensus is a joke.
(Emphasis added.) Well then, you clearly don't actually believe in including the players. Because consensus IS how you include them. To call it a joke is to straight up deny that there is anything of worth other than you and your decision. That's why I push back so hard on this. Your derisive hostility to the very concept of actually including other people in adjudication is what I am so opposed to! (Well, that and the deception thing, but that's a different side of this discussion.)

Being a good dungeon master means taking that "absolute and unquestionable power and latitude," such as it is, and using it only to improve everyone's experience.
And you cannot do that unless you actually know what will do it. You cannot know what will do it without communicating and giving people the chance to make decisions for themselves, not merely meekly submitting to your word because you say it and you obviously know what's best for them and the game.

It has to be a two-way street. Anything less is simply not capable of using this power "only to improve everyone's experience."

If the dungeon master has any advantage over the players, it is only because the players agree to give it to them, and it can and should just as easily and readily be revoked upon abuse.
Except it isn't. For a huge number of reasons. Just as how trusting a corporation—say, with a license they tell you is irrevocable and then turn around later and say it isn't—is nowhere near as easy to back out of. Or trusting a government, or any other sort of thing where one side has all the power and the other side has nothing but soft, social/reputation power to exert any influence at all. Pretending it is that easy is one of the ways abusers get away with their abuse, in all sorts of relationships.

I've never understood the mindset that consideration for the table and the game is somehow only to be trusted to the players,
Because the players are not the ones claiming authority. That is where the asymmetry lies. I'm not at all saying that DMs are somehow inherently wicked (that would be hilariously self-incriminating, given I only DM these days); I'm saying that the way you demonstrate your "with great power comes great responsibility" reference is itself by showing deference to those who aren't claiming authority. In this context, players. Much as (for example) Superman could just kill people whenever he wanted, but he doesn't do so, because holding himself to a higher standard, a standard even ordinary citizens wouldn't hold themselves to, is all that stands between him and doing things because they are convenient to him, not because they are the right thing to do. (Notably, Clark Kent is much more willing to bend the rules than Superman: yet another proof that Kent is the actual person and Supes is a mask he wears to be able to help others.)

when personal experience inside and outside of the game has demonstrated to me that no one group of humans has a monopoly on selfishness.
I don't understand the relevance. I'm not talking about selfishness. I'm talking about elitism, deception, absolutism, the belief that "consensus is a joke," etc. One does not need to be selfish to be elitist. Indeed, some of the most selfless people are dangerously elitist as a direct consequence, and that is exactly the kind of dangerous sentiment that C.S. Lewis wrote about when he said that the most oppressive tyrannies are those exercised under the sincere belief that they are of benefit to their victims.

If I'm guilty of excusing dungeon masters, you are at least as guilty of apologizing for players.
I'm not apologizing for players at all, so I don't underarand what you are referring to. The only thing I have said even remotely in that direction is that "player entitlement" is largely a fiction, and doubly so for the alleged sudden rise thereof. Are there entitled players? Sure. But player entitlement, as some kind of philosophy or movement or pattern, is a pernicious myth used as a cudgel against anyone actually speaking up for player interests. As we have seen here.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
I've run an open table. I've run for literally dozens of players, and I've never once run into an "entitled player" and only once ever had to kick someone from my table (for attempting to bully the other PCs). There are players that I won't run certain games for (and they mostly share the sentiment about those games) and others for at the same time - but that's the only player I wouldn't have back in the right game (and one other player whose RPG stories made me say "Oh hell no.").
So you filter out unreasonable players like any sane dungeon master. Seems pretty standard to me.

And most of the DMs who complain about "entitled players" should, in my experience, look in a mirror to see where the problem is.
Insult received as intended.

"Sometimes I will lie to you" does not make all statements after that one suddenly truthful. "Sometimes I will fudge rolls" does not mean fudging ceases to be deceptive.
Fair. Call it consent to deception, then. Like attending a magic show.

"That's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off."
I don't even know what this means. Us both having bias is a bold strategy?

Right back at you. "Player entitlement" is inflammatory hyperbole.
No it isn't, it's a limited noun. Can we agree that "entitlement" is a problem at TTRPG tables? I honestly don't see a fundamental difference between players and dungeon masters beyond a willingness to take on additional responsibility for the good of the group. When people are unwilling to take on additional responsibility but still feel free to make demands of the group, it gets up my nose. I don't see that as unreasonable.

I'll cop to finding demands more acceptable when they are coming from someone who has stepped up.

These contradictions concern me greatly and are exactly why I oppose fudging so much. They reflect the "I know better than you what you will find fun" attitude woven into fudging that I so strongly oppose.
Then I regret using a pithy turn of phrase to illustrate an equally deeply held belief; it appears I damaged my credibility in doing so.

It's not a question of knowing better than the players, but a question of having additional knowledge. As a dungeon master I know the results of hidden rolls, the DCs or HP totals of challenges the players face, and the content of the adventure that has not yet been revealed to the players.

This gives me a different perspective on things like whether that hit for 8 damage on the creature with 9 HP remaining should just kill the creature, or if it should get one more round of attacks; whether that 13 on a Perception check will detect the DC 15 secret passage because we've only got 30 minutes left in the session; or whether two of the three crits I just rolled on a dragon's claw/claw/bite against a flagging party might just as easily have been one crit and two 19s.

If a player feels strongly that die rolls must be sacrosanct, then they are free not to play at my table, and I would encourage them to move on. I may disagree with them philosophically, but the one absolute truth about TTRPGs is that every table and every player are different and those differences must be respected. Doesn't mean I'm going to run my table differently for one person, though, and it would be unfair to treat them differently than everyone else at the table.
 

Reynard

Legend
D&D isn't constrained by adherence to a coherent fiction?

Yeah, please elaborate on that!
Not for me it isn't -- not in the sense that it is trying to tell a story. Stories emerge out of play -- often with the help of weird ass die rolls -- but they aren't the point.
Well if that's not what you wanted to discuss, then you shouldn't even have mentioned it.
Fair enough. I should have realized it would garner more traction than I intended it to.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A distinction without a difference. You declare the power is absolute. The person I replied to said they'd never seen anyone do so. That you claim it, regardless of context, is the only relevant fact here.
It's not and you can't make it the only relevant fact. If you want to go with only one fact, it's that the game(not me or you) gives the DM ultimate authority. It doesn't matter whether you agree with it or not, it is a fact that it is the game that grants that authority. 🤷‍♂️

If you're going to bring me into it, you're going to get my full opinion on the matter as the relevant fact of my position. You don't get to take it out of context, because out of context it makes me sound like some sort of ultra authoritarian dictator, which I'm not.
 
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Because there are two points on the curve that matter. Both 7 and 10. And moving the bell curve over them leads to a much better balance as long as you keep within the workable range (which is small).

So just the story about snake eyes was not helpful.
So I see, that with a +4 bonus, you achieve a greater success when someone with a +1 bonus only gets a normal one (with a 15/36 chance) .
And you just need a 3 to get a normal success (which has a 35/36 chance).

So going on a linear scale (lets just keep the +4 bonus), we had to put the normal success at about 5 and the greater success at about 16.
That would leave the one with only a +1 bonus with an 80% chance for a success and still a 25% chance for a greater success. So a chance for a normal success would be way higher compared to the chance to get a greater success (it was 9+ on a 2d6 which means 10/36).

With those two fixed points in place, I see what is achieved here. Thanks for your elaboration.
 

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