D&D General How much control do DMs need?

Enrahim2

Adventurer
How so? What width of experience can D&D produce in a single session, that is different from (say) Prince Valiant? Or Classic Traveller? Or Torchbearer?
First let me say, I love your questions! They are really thought provoking. Next I have to admit you here mention 3 games I actually haven't read either of (Something that surprises me!). It also surprises me that classic traveler do not have rule 0. Torchbearer have burningwheel roots as far as I understand, so I assume it has similar generalised reward-resolution say yes or roll the dice philosophy?

In either case I suspect the following diversity of experience is hard to get in a non rule zero game:
Starts out with a classic dungeon crawl - fully predetermined location with random monsters. Then the party find the Crown of reality command, an artifact with the following property: The wearer take complete control over any aspects of their universe for 5 minutes before the crown teleports to a random location i the multiverse. For 5 minutes the player with a an narate whatever they want to happen during that time, and it will be true. However before using it, the players get to learn that for the next 5 minutes after that, reality will flex back, causing the DM to take full controll over what happens, including the actions of all player characters.

The players decide to use it after leaving the dungeon, chaos ensues, and then the game enters a collaborative roleplaying pattern where any player can come with suggestions what happens next, needing a majority vote with DM having veto.

I can easily see the above scenario play out as described in D&D in a single session. I think it breaks absolutely every principle of "player protection" in burning wheel at least. I also assume you agree it is an extreme range of gaming experiences involved, from static player explore DM content, to full dictation by a player to a purest thinkable DM railroad to a clearly asymmetric collaborative experience.
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Yeah, this would seem to be a big black mark against the purported flexibility of D&D - if you break out of the 'adventuring party' conceit and start having characters split up (as happens regularly in both real life and fantasy stories), the game can't really handle it.
IME it can to a point provided players are patient enough to allow other players time to play out their bits. This happens all the time when one character is sent out or volunteers to scout ahead and has no long-range communication back to the party.

The headache as DM whan they split, be it intentionally while in town or unintentionally in a dungeon, is trying to keep them all aligned in time and space in order to determine if-when they might meet again by chance, as opposed to or in addition to their having set a time and place to reunite.
 

soviet

Hero
Question is: what if you want to do (or leave open the potential to do, should the winds blow that way) a whole lot of things - gritty sim, light sim, tragedy, slapstick, high (melo)drama, dungeon crawling, political/courtly intrigue, murderhoboing, etc. - at some point all within the same campaign?

Such a campaign requires a single system, flexible enough to more or less seamlessly handle all these elements.
Well any of those games can do any of those things, it's a question of what your intended focus is. I certainly don't see that 5e is in any way more flexible at meeting different points on this map.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't know what the difference is between you-as-player and you-as-you.
No difference other than phraseology.
I have no problem being invested in a character who is regarded with contempt by the character I am playing. My character isn't me.
Maybe call it a mild form of method acting, then? Sometimes, when considering other characters I (to a point) think as my character thinks. At other times I'll go into "analyst mode", usually when comparing characters or telling war stories. These are both completely unrlated to how/what I-as-player think of other players.
I don't understand: why would players make choices they don't want to make, or engage with tropes and themes in ways that they don't want to?
For the latter, sometimes because that's where the game they're in has gone, maybe, and the stay in or bail choice was to stay in?

For the former, and far more often, because that's where playing their character true to itself has led them. Many's the time I've made in-character choices simply because that's what the character would do, even though I-as-player don't want to make that choice and it's potentially going to negatively affect me at the table (e.g. the times I've roleplayed myself right out of parties or games simply by being true to my character and having it leave a party it has no good reason to stay in).
 

Oofta

Legend
Well any of those games can do any of those things, it's a question of what your intended focus is. I certainly don't see that 5e is in any way more flexible at meeting different points on this map.

I don't see some of these statements as a zero sum game. Can D&D handle a fair amount to variety? Yes. Can other games as well? Some yes. Some, unless you're really ignoring the design expectations, probably not.
 


Oofta

Legend
Examples?

Not sure what you mean, but if I'm playing a Call of Cthulhu game, I wouldn't expect a light hearted heroic romp. If I'm playing a golden age superheroes game like Mutants and Masterminds I don't expect gritty reality. I'm sure BitD could handle a fair amount of variation but it's sweet spot is pretty well defined. Many other games, when I've played one shots or or chatted with people who play them seem to be far more focused.

Being more focused isn't an inherently bad thing, it allows you to focus on one game style. But saying that D&D has the option of different styles ("gritty sim, light sim, tragedy, slapstick, high (melo)drama, dungeon crawling, political/courtly intrigue, murderhoboing, etc.") does not mean other games cannot also do that. In the same way that some games are very focused on doing one thing well.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Yet you’ve often stated that don’t make decisions on anything other than what your character would do. The common example you offer is that even if that decision means the character removes themselves from play.

So if this is your approach to play… to always view things through you character only (and even your views of other players’ characters seem incapable of escaping this)… then when and how are you considering the “big picture”?

And if a book doesn’t contain a map at the start are you somehow unprepared when something new is introduced?
If a fantasy book doesn't contain a map in it somewhere I see that as a fail. That said, the maps in many fantasy books are legitimately awful; sometimes in their presentation but more often in their attempts to depict things that at face value geologically couldn't exist, where such disparities are never explained in the text.

I mean, if there's an explained-in-story reason for those rivers to flow uphill, that's cool - but if there isn't, that's pretty poor world design/mapping.
I’m guessing that your entertaining and my interesting are more different than you expect. I have no idea why entertaining characters would “flame out” quickly.
My "entertaining" often involves taking something just a bit over the top, be it a personality aspect, a quirk, sheer gonzo-ness, or whatever. This - particularly the gonzo aspect - sometimes tends to see them die quickly.

The most entertaining and funniest character I've ever seen was a completely nutso crazy Mage from my current campaign. He packed more entertainment into his 17 sessions of existence than many characters provided in their entire multi-hundred-session careers; and we'll tell his stories forever. But, inevitably he flamed out.

My usual benchmark is this: a character is entertaining enough if - like a TV show - it makes the other players (and-or the DM) want to come back next week for more.
That’s a weird assumption to make.

Would you agree that a person likely cares about the actions of his enemy? Or cares about that enemy’s situation? I’d think the answer is obvious.
No. I'd agree that a person is likely very interested in the actions of his enemy, but not that he cares. Caring implies sympathy, empathy, maybe even love; things which one doesn't often have for an enemy.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
In my RPGing, I don't force players to come up with goals, or to care about the other PCs.

I take it for granted, as part of RPGing, in the same way that I take it for granted that (say) when we're playing five hundred, everyone at the table will try and bid sensibly, try and win their tricks, etc.
Where I don't in the least take those things for granted in an RPG. Players can come up with goals if they like, but it's neither required nor assumed that they will. Players can think what they like about other PCs; there's no inherent assumption that those thoughts have to be positive (and "care about" very strongly implies positive).
It's what RPGing is about.
For you, perhaps. Not necessarily for all of us.
 

soviet

Hero
Not sure what you mean, but if I'm playing a Call of Cthulhu game, I wouldn't expect a light hearted heroic romp. If I'm playing a golden age superheroes game like Mutants and Masterminds I don't expect gritty reality. I'm sure BitD could handle a fair amount of variation but it's sweet spot is pretty well defined. Many other games, when I've played one shots or or chatted with people who play them seem to be far more focused.

Being more focused isn't an inherently bad thing, it allows you to focus on one game style. But saying that D&D has the option of different styles ("gritty sim, light sim, tragedy, slapstick, high (melo)drama, dungeon crawling, political/courtly intrigue, murderhoboing, etc.") does not mean other games cannot also do that. In the same way that some games are very focused on doing one thing well.

I'm not disputing that different games focus on different things, I'm disputing the idea that 5e is somehow so flexible that it doesn't.

How does 5e deal with nonviolent nonmagical investigation games? How does it deal with courtly intrigue (other than ten million Persuasion checks with no defined stakes)? How does it do gritty reality when once you get past level two or three characters can survive multiple sword blows without difficulty? How does it do deep cultural exploration games, group worldbuilding games, or moral dilemma games?

Moreover, how is it more suited to switching between light hearted heroic romps and gritty reality, as you seem to imply, than any other game? How does it deal with tragedy, slapstick, high melodrama, etc better than any other game?

I play and like D&D, by the way. Even 5e, although it's not my favourite. But I like it for what it does best, not some imagined superflexibility that has no basis in the text.
 

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