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D&D General "It's not fun when..."

overgeeked

B/X Known World
One thing D&D could use is fast and simple character generation. Not that that would solve everyone's issues with death as a fail state, but for some portion of the player base the biggest concern is in fact the time and effort needed to make a new character. There's a benefit to "rolls stats, choose a class and take the standard kit" being the entirety of chargen.
Absolutely. The alternative is to build multiple characters at the start and grab the next when one dies.
 

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Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
One thing D&D could use is fast and simple character generation. Not that that would solve everyone's issues with death as a fail state, but for some portion of the player base the biggest concern is in fact the time and effort needed to make a new character. There's a benefit to "rolls stats, choose a class and take the standard kit" being the entirety of chargen.
I'm very happy with my games at the moment, but I am curious to run one where people come in with explicit backup characters already built and see what changes that would engender.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
True enough, but sometimes the GM screws up the encounter design or fails to foresee a particularly clever tactic or just forgets how a particular spell or class ability works.

Yeah, but then shouldn't it be... "It isn't fun when the GM screws everything up?"
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I'm very happy with my games at the moment, but I am curious to run one where people come in with explicit backup characters already built and see what changes that would engender.
My experience is that it doesn't change a whole lot, but it does keep the game moving forward when a character dies, which is my goal. I also like to make sure the backup characters are referenced from time to time during play so that when they're introduced it's an easy transition.
 




EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
It's not fun when the distribution of power over the gameplay space is sharply skewed. AKA: "Casters rule, martials drool." To be a full spellcaster is to have enormous power over the game-space, power that can only really be curbed "by the rules," because that power is simultaneously well-defined and highly open-ended, on top of whatever the spellcaster can persuade the DM to let them do. This inherently and deeply unequal distribution of ability to affect the game causes a lot of issues for a segment of the playerbase...which is why the "LFQW" debate continues to rage on today. This could be addressed with a variety of different solutions, or a group of such solutions: lowering or diluting* the power of magic so it doesn't provide that much more control over the gameplay space, giving non-casters more codified power over the gameplay space, making all characters spellcasters and thus eliminating the distinction (often criticized, despite the fact that no edition has ever actually done it), separating utility magic from other forms of magic and making that separate system require more significant investment, or removing spellcasting classes so only non-casting options are available (again, oft criticized but never actually done before.)

Ironically, it is often not fun when the game is designed to pursue fun über alles. This can easily lead to a shallow experience, or a slow degradation of that fun over time. It's related to the problem of happiness: trying to be happy usually fails, often miserably, while dedicating your time and resources to something outside of or beyond yourself, despite not being directly happiness-creating, is often quite successful at producing happiness. (This is not some random theory thing, either; actual psych research has shown that people who put the most emphasis on being happy are consistently the least happy people, and even that simply being informed about the benefits of happiness can cause people to experience less joy!) Hence, it is unwise and likely even counterproductive to make fun über alles the goal of one's game design. One should instead identify the overall kinds of experience one wishes to evoke in players (e.g. wonder, excitement, dread, tactical acumen, etc.), and then set design goals which will (hopefully!) serve that end effectively and efficiently. One is likely to then find that fun almost accidentally falls out of the game in question. (This does not mean one should never ever consider fun as part of the design process. Just that focusing on fun over all other considerations can in fact actually be harmful to the experience of playing a game.)

It's not fun when a game describes itself as something it isn't, only for players to discover this after they've started playing. This is a major criticism I have of 3rd edition. It bills itself as a cooperative teamwork fantasy roleplaying game: a merry band of peers, supporting one another as they adventure through the dangerous, magical wilds of the world. Instead, mechanically, it is almost totally focused on individual contributions and the evaluation of events within a single turn. Action economy is king (as it is in almost any game--TTRPG or CRPG or whatever--that has such a thing), and the specific action economy of 3e dictates that teamwork-synergy is almost always inferior to simply doing something yourself. Heal an ally? No, don't bother--you're wasting an action to un-do an enemy action, rather than to do something to the enemy. Instead, use that spell slot to blow up the bad guys, getting the fight closer to resolution. Buff? Even worse! Now you're trading the realized act of doing something productive for the potential possibility of someone else doing something slightly more productive than they already would have. The rules themselves incentivize self-centered thinking and ruthless personal optimization. 5e has fixed some of these problems by introducing more sticks into the design of magic (Concentration being the big one), but by and large it has preserved an awful lot of what led 3e so astray. Fixing this is would require rewriting a significant portion of spells so that synergy and teamwork actually do provide bigger benefits than ruthless personal optimization. If one were designing a brand-new game, one would need to start from the presumption that teamwork should be better than solo contribution, and thus review all mechanics as they are introduced to see if they actually support that design goal. (Incidentally, that's an example of a design goal, which follows from the intended-play experience of teamwork.)

*Dilution, in this sense, would be stuff like forcing casters to roll for certain kinds of powerful utility spell effects, so that magic is not an instant-win button anymore.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
When you die in Dark Souls, you don't get booted back to character creation and loose literal hours of progress.

If D&D had a resurrection campfire for free, then the 'it's fun having loads of death in Dark Souls' would be analogous to death in D&D.
It’s just one example of a short-term not-fun thing making a game more fun overall than it would be without that thing. I’m not saying D&D would be less fun without character death*, I’m saying that sometimes short-term unfun serves greater long-term fun, as in the case of deaths in soulslikes. For a D&D example, look at something like, I don’t know, critical hits. It’s not fun to get crit, but the game is more fun with a crit mechanic in it.

*I do think it would be less fun for me, but different players have different preferences there, and it’s tangential to my point anyway.
 

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