D&D General How has D&D changed over the decades?


log in or register to remove this ad

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Or talking about international diplomacy, either. Or legal mediation.
Legal mediation is exactly what I'm talking about: both sides present a case and then the legal hammer comes down in favour of one or the other or somewhere in the middle. Final resolution, end of story, time to move on. At an RPG table, that's what a DM does.

Consensus without resolution (which is all consensus ever is) doesn't end the story or finally resolve anything; and allows for - almost begs for - later relitigation after backroom discussion and lobbying, meaning everyone has to go through the process again. And again, and again, until either one side gives up in disgust or someone is given (or takes) authority, lays the hammer down, and imposes a resolution.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I honestly wonder if this is a cultural thing. I don't mean gaming culture, but, a broader cultural thing.

I have lived most of my adult life in a culture that values consensus building as a means of conflict resolution. And, it works very, very well. Actually, strike that. I'm Canadian. Even in Canada, consensus building is a cornerstone foundation of most of our social values.
I'm also Canadian, and my experience with out-of-game consensus building among people who may or may not otherwise be friends or acquaintances has almost entirely been negative.

Consensus is a very very game-able system if one is determined to get one's way (which IME most people usually are, to some extent) and has the patience for it, and I've seen some masters of this gamesmanship at work in my time both in my favour and against me.
"Stuck thinking that way" is a pretty negative way of phrasing it. I would not look at it like this.
Fair, but I couldn't think of another way of putting it that one person has to think of the game-as-a-whole first while everyone else can think of their PC and-or the party first and more or less stop there.
 

Hussar

Legend
By his past posts, because every player he hit has the problems he's calling out; so he makes the best of a bad situation.
Yeah, but, man, that's some sheer bloody mindedness. If I had nothing but problem players for the last 40 years, I really, really wouldn't keep playing the same game. I'll certainly cop to some specific tables that I didn't enjoy and I'll absolutely cop to the notion that my lack of enjoyment was my own problem and not an issue with the table, but, even though I've had some tables I didn't enjoy it certainly wasn't the majority and very certainly wasn't all of them.

I've walked from five groups that I can recall. The first two were because the DM was just toxic and the players revolted. It wasn't just me leaving the table, the entire group left en masse. The next one I left because a change in the group dynamic brought about by shifting players resulted in a table play style I no longer enjoyed, so, I walked. The next was a fairly short lived 4e group where the DM was completely unprepared to run on a virtual tabletop, typed (this was pre-voice) about 20 words per minute and refused to create any macros. Meaning that every fight (and 4e fights were rarely short) lasted about 3 hours. I lasted about four sessions. :D The last group, which I recently walked from, was a result very much like the one before where a change in the group dynamic resulted in a shift in playstyle that I just didn't enjoy.

But, at no point would I even consider continuing play if every single group was as toxic as @overgeeked talks about.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Legal mediation is exactly what I'm talking about: both sides present a case and then the legal hammer comes down in favour of one or the other or somewhere in the middle. Final resolution, end of story, time to move on. At an RPG table, that's what a DM does.
That's arbitration, not mediation.
Consensus without resolution (which is all consensus ever is) doesn't end the story or finally resolve anything; and allows for - almost begs for - later relitigation after backroom discussion and lobbying, meaning everyone has to go through the process again. And again, and again, until either one side gives up in disgust or someone is given (or takes) authority, lays the hammer down, and imposes a resolution.
Consensus is resolved -- if there's consensus, there's consensus. You're describing a lack of consensus as consensus! I'm having trouble following the usage of English at this point, it seems very off.
 

Hussar

Legend
Legal mediation is exactly what I'm talking about: both sides present a case and then the legal hammer comes down in favour of one or the other or somewhere in the middle. Final resolution, end of story, time to move on. At an RPG table, that's what a DM does.
That is absolutely not how mediation works.
Consensus without resolution (which is all consensus ever is) doesn't end the story or finally resolve anything; and allows for - almost begs for - later relitigation after backroom discussion and lobbying, meaning everyone has to go through the process again. And again, and again, until either one side gives up in disgust or someone is given (or takes) authority, lays the hammer down, and imposes a resolution.
Again, I think you may be projecting just a teeny bit.

But, then again, I have zero problem with relitigation actually. It means that you are constantly examining and reexamining results to make sure that things actually work. The whole "one and done" approach to any dispute is simply a recipe for disaster. There are far, far too many examples of this that are way outside the bounds of what we can discuss here. But, it's not hard to find example after example where an imposed resolution leads to far, far worse consequences down the line.

Heck, wars (include at least one very, very big one) have been fought over this.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
That's arbitration, not mediation.
Same thing in my books: it's a legally-enforced agreement.
Consensus is resolved -- if there's consensus, there's consensus. You're describing a lack of consensus as consensus! I'm having trouble following the usage of English at this point, it seems very off.
No, I'm describing "consensus" as a stalling tactic rather than a resolution, as that's how I've most often seen it used.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Same thing in my books: it's a legally-enforced agreement.
One requires the parties to agree, the other doesn't, so, in terms of consensus, not at all the same thing.
No, I'm describing "consensus" as a stalling tactic rather than a resolution, as that's how I've most often seen it used.
That is not how the word is defined in any context. You're using it incorrectly, and it's lead to disputes of meaning. If you honestly think that consensus just means stalling, I get where you're coming from -- you've got the wrong word but not argument that intentional stalling leads to no resolution. However, consensus means "everyone agrees" and is 100% a very clear resolution to what is being discussed. Not everyone (or anyone) may be happy about the outcome, but everyone agrees to it.
 

Yeah, but, man, that's some sheer bloody mindedness.

Its easy to read too much into what people say when they're complaining about something. They can be having serious problems with some elements of the player group(s) they have, and still net out getting enough out of the game to justify the effort.

Its one of the things that makes me tend to roll my eyes at "No gaming is better than bad gaming"; that phrase only usually makes sense when someone's sense of "good" is very strict and anything lesser is worthless. There absolutely are people like that, but at some point you have to kind of feel their lack of gaming is then a self-inflicted wound; if you set your expectations too high, you're asking to run into problems; some people are lucky enough that they don't, but its not something you can assume. Its much easier when you set a couple of lines in the sand and otherwise accept that its not likely to be a perfect experience.

But, at no point would I even consider continuing play if every single group was as toxic as @overgeeked talks about.

But that's it; I suspect he wouldn't refer to the players he's had as "toxic"; he'd likely just consider them "typical" and maybe "tolerable".
 
Last edited:

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
But, then again, I have zero problem with relitigation actually. It means that you are constantly examining and reexamining results to make sure that things actually work.
Sure, and that's excellent if checking whether things are working is the honest reason for review.

In my experience, however, it far more often boils down to someone saying/thinking "I saw that I wasn't going to get my way last time so instead I pushed for and agreed to a compromise which gained consensus; and now that I've done six months worth of lobbying and persuading I'll reopen the issue (or get someone else to do so) and try again to get what I really want".
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
One requires the parties to agree, the other doesn't, so, in terms of consensus, not at all the same thing.

That is not how the word is defined in any context. You're using it incorrectly, and it's lead to disputes of meaning. If you honestly think that consensus just means stalling, I get where you're coming from -- you've got the wrong word but not argument that intentional stalling leads to no resolution. However, consensus means "everyone agrees" and is 100% a very clear resolution to what is being discussed. Not everyone (or anyone) may be happy about the outcome, but everyone agrees to it.
Everyone says they agree to it. Doesn't mean they really do. :)
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Everyone says they agree to it. Doesn't mean they really do. :)
Why is it that you so often go to imagining bad actors as the last line of argument? "Let players define their deity's worship" goes to "but a player may do a completely non-sensical thing so we need to make sure it can't happen by not letting them do that! Save the players!" And now, "Consensus means everyone agrees to a thing." "But someone might possibly be lying, and the fact that what they lied about is agreed to and gone makes no difference because... something bad probably happens here. So, yeah, consensus is totally awful because someone might possibly lie and a maybe bad thing might happen then."

It's... very odd.
 

pemerton

Legend
Given responses in this very thread, I can guarantee that I would be considered a bad player by quite a few of the GMs that have posted in this thread.
Right. "Bad player" is relative to expectations.

In my Torchbearer game, one of the players deliberately initiated an interaction with a NPC anticipating that it would earn him an enemy. Is that good play, or bad play? I thought it was great play - it gave me a hook for hanging a twist to a later failed Resources check (the PC's enemy had had him black-balled at the markets), it prompted a later confrontation between the two characters (initiated by the players, and shifting the terrain from scholarship (where the PC is weak) to oratory (where the PC is strong), and it gives me material for future framing and complications.

At a turtling-type table I imagine it would be considered bad play.

Being a GM in D&D isn't really that hard. It's been made hard by the zeitgeist and certain cultural assumptions and playstyles that have gained traction both historically and recently. Much of this is the idea that the GM has to have some significantly worked on setting bible -- either borrowed from published or made themselves -- and have all of the responsibility to present this accurately to the players. Further, more "modern" developments (stemming from 4e and heavily embraced in 5e published material) is the idea that the GM should be presenting a plot (the alternative to this is an even more detailed "sandbox" of smaller plots and places) and then managing that plot to make sure it shines. These put a huge amount of extra work on the GM, but also create perverse incentives for the GM to feel they are more important because they've done this body of work and that they need the extra authority to make sure this body of work gets experienced.
I will query your timelines here - I saw the sorts of expectations you describe here, about both setting and plot, back in the 90s, and they seemed well-entrenched then.

I agree that it creates unnecessary hurdles to GMing and gameplay more generally.

"Trust the GM" means don't ask questions. This is the fundamental point -- you need to "trust" that whatever the GM is doing it for your own good as a player. This totally removes good questions about play. Let me give an example
When I was GMing 4e, I remember a player calling me on an aspect of framing that contradicted the players' success at a skill challenge in the previous session. It was a fair call.

If a GM is doing their best to frame scenes and narrate consequences, I'll let that go even if I can see flaws in what they're doing that (to my eye) seem like they could easily be remedied. I see that as an issue of manners, rather than trust. Trust implies as-yet unrevealed consequences or competencies that can be relied upon. In the case of GMing, most of the time what you see is what you get, and so trust isn't a salient concept.

I mean, if the GM sets up a puzzle I guess I need to trust them not to have cocked up the solution, but even then there can be plenty of room for real-time back-and-forth between humans. (Eg one time I wrote a series of puzzles and codes for my daughter's birthday party. I did it late the evening before, and mucked up one of my Caesar shifts. So any trust the kids had in me was misplaced - but they worked it out anyway, noted the errors, and just made snide remarks about the incompetent dad!)
 

pemerton

Legend
As a GM, I expect the player of a cleric or paladin-type PC to take the lead in determining what it is that their religion requires of them. If they come to me for advice or assistance, I'll generally give it - but not if it's them trying to offload the responsibility for a hard decision!

As a player of that sort of PC, I expect the GM to show the same degree of latitude. As a general rule I don't see it as the GM's job to tell me how to play my character, and that includes not telling me what sincere religious conviction would look like.
That's exactly what I'd be asking you were you to do this as a player; yet from the post I quoted it seems you're in effect claiming the right to do exactly this - that you-as-player get to set the requirements of the deity's faith as you see it, rather than it be a more universal thing across all worshippers of said deity and set by the DM as part of setting construction.
In my games of course it applies to all worshippers, but chances are this stuff isn't like well defined. I'm generally going to let the player define it so they can play the type of the character they want to play. I will build off of their answers and add my spin to it, but I want to support the type of conflicts the player is looking for.
My first reply is the same as Campbell's - when I, as a player, establish the requirements of the faith as I see it, I am establishing a more universal thing across all worshippers.

There's also, of course, the possibility of various expectations across different worshippers (certainly a thing in the European paganism that tends to have inspired FRPG approaches, and also a thing in European Christianity before the big pushes for uniformity beginning around the eleventh century). This is also what @Ovinomancer suggested upthread.

For instance, the first time an extended rest was taken in my 4e campaign, the player of the paladin of the Raven Queen announced that he sleeps standing up (because only the dead lie horizontal). No one quibbled - but nor did the players of the other Raven Queen devotees take a similar view about their PCs, who slept in the normal fashion. When decisions about what the Raven Queen requires have been more high-stakes, I expect the players to work it out, perhaps in character - it's not as if its unrealistic that the adherents of a single religion might disagree about what its demands are!

As a player I'd prefer this sort of thing be defined enough ahead of time that when I-as-player am picking a deity I know what I'm getting into in worshipping/following a given deity; that if my character idea suggests that as I'm from the desert I'd follow a sun-and-heat deity of honour and virtue I don't by mistake end up following a sun-and-heat deity whose worshippers honour the sun by leaving sacrificial victims out in it to roast alive.
This makes no sense to me. If things aren't defined ahead of time, then there is no risk of the sort of mistake you describe, which can only come about if someone - presumably the GM - decides these setting elements ahead of time.

As I posted, I generally expect the GM to provide me the latitude I would grant. Obviously granting that latitude precludes the sort of thing you're describing here.
 

pemerton

Legend
This post is a good example.
I can't remember what I was doing back in November 2013, but I remember being busy. Maybe I was marking exams? Anyway, I don't think I've read that post before, which is why the fey thing with the Chamberlain et al caught me by surprise back then. Now it makes more sense!

"I go talk to X" is quite common instead of playing through tracking them down.
This is like what I described upthread in my Torchbearer game: the PC wanted to humiliate his enemy in a debate, and we didn't worry about how the two characters were able to meet up.

In my Traveller game, the PCs include nobles. And most planets have populations below the millions - ie are the size of small sub-federal entities, or middle-sized urban areas. So if the players want to meet with important personages, we tend to cut to that without worrying too much about the minutiae of the back-and-forth of appointment books, talking to PAs/EAs, etc. Especially when time is often being tracked in days and weeks rather than minutes and hours.

I don't see this as very controversial, even though it is the player - in effect - making a decision about some aspect of the setting other than their PC. ("Non-magical mind control" FTW!)
 

Hussar

Legend
But…but…but…

If that character sleeps standing up that’s totally powergaming. He won’t be prone when he wakes up!!! Completely trying to win the game by getting an unfair advantage. No other cleric gets that!!!

:p
 


pemerton

Legend
But…but…but…

If that character sleeps standing up that’s totally powergaming. He won’t be prone when he wakes up!!! Completely trying to win the game by getting an unfair advantage. No other cleric gets that!!!
I think there even was, once, an encounter where that happened, and he got the benefit of not being prone.

It came close to breaking the game, but we survived!
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I can't remember what I was doing back in November 2013, but I remember being busy. Maybe I was marking exams? Anyway, I don't think I've read that post before, which is why the fey thing with the Chamberlain et al caught me by surprise back then. Now it makes more sense!

This is like what I described upthread in my Torchbearer game: the PC wanted to humiliate his enemy in a debate, and we didn't worry about how the two characters were able to meet up.

In my Traveller game, the PCs include nobles. And most planets have populations below the millions - ie are the size of small sub-federal entities, or middle-sized urban areas. So if the players want to meet with important personages, we tend to cut to that without worrying too much about the minutiae of the back-and-forth of appointment books, talking to PAs/EAs, etc. Especially when time is often being tracked in days and weeks rather than minutes and hours.

I don't see this as very controversial, even though it is the player - in effect - making a decision about some aspect of the setting other than their PC. ("Non-magical mind control" FTW!)
I'm not even sure I would have called those a player making a decision about the setting -- just the table cutting out the parts that are easy given whose trying it and getting on to the more exciting things.

Now I'm wondering about how customer service lines in Traveller work and what it takes for a character to not have to deal with them if they're anything like our ones now :)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Why is it that you so often go to imagining bad actors as the last line of argument? "Let players define their deity's worship" goes to "but a player may do a completely non-sensical thing so we need to make sure it can't happen by not letting them do that! Save the players!" And now, "Consensus means everyone agrees to a thing." "But someone might possibly be lying, and the fact that what they lied about is agreed to and gone makes no difference because... something bad probably happens here. So, yeah, consensus is totally awful because someone might possibly lie and a maybe bad thing might happen then."
On the consensus piece, it's because I've seen it used so many times out-of-game as a bad-faith delaying tactic - usually by the losing side in an argument or debate - that when I see it now I just assume this to be the case, and in response I push for a binding resolution now by vote or other lock-it-in means so as to cut off the backroom lobbying crap before it starts.

The minute I hear someone say "Can we just come to a consensus?", up go the red flags.

On the in-game religion piece, to me pantheons and deities etc. are part of the background setting* and thus fully under the DM's purview. Sure the DM could open this up so players could in effect build their own deities, but in my settings at least this would risk running aground in two ways:

--- all deities in all my settings work on an underlying universal chassis that players might never see or know about; a player-designed deity might run afoul of this without realizing it, meaning I'd have to keep a hard veto power
--- my pantheons are already designed intentionally so as to allow a wide variance of Cleric types and alignments to be chosen for play; and some of the "holes" left in those lineups are intentional. For example, one can play a Dwarven Nature Cleric (a.k.a. Druid) in my game but to do so said Dwarf has to go out of culture to find a deity as no Dwarven deities support that type of Cleric - what self-respecting Dwarf wants to spend time frolicking about in forests when there's good mining to be done? :). A player inventing a Dwarven nature deity to fill this hole would violate this intentional design and in so doing probably force me to come up with a completely bespoke spell list just for it; and that's a crap-ton of work I ain't about to do just for one character, thank you very much.

* - the exception of course being if the PCs are deities, but I've never tried that type of game.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top