D&D 5E L&L: Monsters and Stories

Dausuul

Legend
:Sheepishly: Honestly, I don't know what poll you are talking about. Nor was I paying attention to most of the conversation you and KM were having. I just piped in when I read something and it struck me as inaccurate, providing my two cents.

If the question is something like "Do you use fluff text for monsters in the monster manual as-is, even if you don't like the fluff."
Then my response would probably be, yes*

The asterisk ( * ) would be that I do use stuff as-is.. if I use it at all.

If I'm playing 4e and I use succubi - they are devils. If I don't like them I'm less likely to use them, but if they show up I'm probably not going to change them to demons even though it bugs the hell of me that they are devils in 4e. Doing such a change messes up more than it is worth, usually.

That's often how it is for me, too. If I don't like something, I am more likely to simply junk it than go to the trouble of re-skinning it.

In 4E, for instance, I hated the flavor of a lot of the bard attack powers (e.g., Vicious Mockery). I could have taken the effort to re-skin those powers and get the players to adopt the changes. Or I could just ban bards. Since none of the players was really set on playing one, I chose the ban option.

Similarly, I've never been fond of color-coded dragons. I'd like to have dragons of all different colors incinerating peasant villages. But I'm not inclined to put a lot of work into wrestling with players' expectations, so I take the path of least resistance and use red dragons more or less exclusively. Rather than training players that in my world, gold dragons are brutal predators and black dragons breathe fire, I simply don't use gold or black dragons.

My experience of messing with the default flavor is that it's almost always more trouble than it's worth. I spend too much time correcting players' mistaken assumptions. Unless I am for some reason deeply committed to using a particular class, race, or monster, it's simpler to just throw it out... but I'd prefer not to have to do that too often.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I honestly think the default effect is part of the reason why I never got into Vampire during the Masquerade days, but enjoy the hell out of Requiem. I enjoy the themes of Vampire, but the pervasive effects of the Camarilla on the setting and high resolution setting didn't fit the sort of games I wanted to run. Could I have gutted the setting and changed the way the game played? Sure, but when someone is looking for a game of Vampire they come with certain expectations. I'm not big on pulling a bait and switch.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Mistwell said:
Wow, I just spent 45 minutes restating what I think was your position, which is what you asked me to do.

Check the timestamps, looks like we overlapped (I replied to your post before you edited it). Your more thorough response is likely something I can respond to in more depth. Stay tuned.

(one edit later...)

Mistwell said:
It sure seems to me you're arguing that people will accept the fluff descriptive text of monsters in the monster manual, even if they don't like it and it doesn't fit their campaign well, because it's the default text and they'd have to actively opt-out of that text to not use it.

This is incorrect. It's probably worth noting that, as an aside, here in the thread, we have anecdotal evidence that this has apparently happened, so apparently people will do that. But that's not my position.

Again, my case doesn't involve a predictive element -- it's not about saying what people will do, for the simple reason that there's far too many variables to make a reasonable prediction about the future. This isn't a laboratory, and psychology isn't typically a hard science that makes precise predictions. I don't have magical superpowers of precognition, and nothing that I've said mandates that I must be the first person in history able to correctly foretell the minds of an entire audience. Any characterization of my case as one that involves foretelling the future of a poll or the behavior of people is a mischaracterization. I'm not trying to do the impossible, here.

To correct that error, it may be useful to think of the default effect as something that accounts for observed behavior, rather than a method for divining some specific future. The studies I cited show that defaults make a significant difference in how people make decisions (and you can see plenty of evidence from other posters all over this board). They claim that this is one of the conclusions one can draw from their results, and I find the argument compelling.

Given that defaults are shown to make a significant difference in how people make decisions, how might this account for some of the comments often seen in threads about D&D monster lore? Your case seems to be "It doesn't, because D&D tells you that you can change anything you want," but because this case presumes that this is somehow materially different for decision-making from being told that you can sign up for organ donation if you want, I disagree. In both situations, the decision-maker is told that they can change the default when they want to, so I don't think that this is a significant difference. The studies say that telling the decision-maker that they can change the default doesn't remove the effect of the default. In fact, that's kind of what they're about -- they primary data points consist of people who are explicitly given the option to change a default, but don't. In no situation are we talking about people NOT given the option to change their default (indeed, organ donation makes it easy to change your default -- literally a little box on your driver's license in most states).

The rest of your post seems predicated on the incorrect assumption that I'm predicting what people will do when just given a default (and with conflating rejection of the default with changing that default, but that's for down the road). I'd suggest re-evaluating your idea of what my argument is. If you'd like to engage in the dialogue, I'm open to you re-evaluating what you thought my position was to more accurately reflect the reality of the situation. Upon re-evaluation, what do you find?
 
Last edited:

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Check the timestamps, looks like we overlapped (I replied to your post before you edited it). Your more thorough response is likely something I can respond to in more depth. Stay tuned.

(one edit later...)



This is incorrect. It's probably worth noting that, as an aside, here in the thread, we have anecdotal evidence that this has apparently happened, so apparently people will do that. But that's not my position.

Again, my case doesn't involve a predictive element -- it's not about saying what people will do, for the simple reason that there's far too many variables to make a reasonable prediction about the future. This isn't a laboratory, and psychology isn't typically a hard science that makes precise predictions. I don't have magical superpowers of precognition, and nothing that I've said mandates that I must be the first person in history able to correctly foretell the minds of an entire audience. Any characterization of my case as one that involves foretelling the future of a poll or the behavior of people is a mischaracterization. I'm not trying to do the impossible, here.

To correct that error, it may be useful to think of the default effect as something that accounts for observed behavior, rather than a method for divining some specific future. The studies I cited show that defaults make a significant difference in how people make decisions (and you can see plenty of evidence from other posters all over this board). They claim that this is one of the conclusions one can draw from their results, and I find the argument compelling.

Given that defaults are shown to make a significant difference in how people make decisions, how might this account for some of the comments often seen in threads about D&D monster lore? Your case seems to be "It doesn't, because D&D tells you that you can change anything you want," but because this case presumes that this is somehow materially different for decision-making from being told that you can sign up for organ donation if you want, I disagree. In both situations, the decision-maker is told that they can change the default when they want to, so I don't think that this is a significant difference. The studies say that telling the decision-maker that they can change the default doesn't remove the effect of the default. In fact, that's kind of what they're about -- they primary data points consist of people who are explicitly given the option to change a default, but don't. In no situation are we talking about people NOT given the option to change their default.

The rest of your post seems predicated on the incorrect assumption that I'm predicting what people will do when just given a default (and with conflating rejection of the decision with making a decision, but that's for down the road). I'd suggest re-evaluating your idea of what my argument is. If you'd like to engage in the dialogue, I'm open to you re-evaluating what you thought my position was to more accurately reflect the reality of the situation. Upon re-evaluation, what do you find?

I am not claiming you have some precognative abilities, I am saying you're arguing that this opt-in effect is LIKELY to have SOME INFLUENCE on how people behavior in the future. Here is how I draw that conclusion:

First, you repeatedly used future-tense language. For example, you said:

"For the lazy DM's, for the newbie DM's, and for all the reasons mentioned in the papers themselves, the default effect will still be present. The only real question is whether WotC is going to try and exploit it, try and ignore it, or try and work with it. "

That's all future-tense language. You're talking about future new DMs, you're talking about "will still be present" in terms of future 5e games based on rules that have not even come out yet, and you're talking about whether WOTC is going to try and do something about it in the future. All of this is predictive/future language, not past-tense or present-tense.

You do this throughout the thread, like for example, "Lets make an easy change," which of course must happen in the future, and "changes the nature of the stories that WE can tell through it, and the nature of the worlds we can build. If the latter is the default, it changes what our own games are about by default. And it's not a zero-sum game: there can be both". This is all about what CAN be, not what was or is. It's all predictive language. Same with, "It doesn't empower me to define medusa for myself", which is a future-tense empowerment.

So, up until I started to try and pin you down for a future poll, you were fine claiming this opt-in issue was something one could rationally expect would have an impact on future behavior. And then all of a sudden you started to claim "my case doesn't involve a predictive element -- it's not about saying what people will do". And yet, you used the very language "will still be present" concerning a topic which influences what people will do.

Therefore, the conclusion one reasonably draws from what you've said, is if they do not include that optional language, then people will behavior a certain way in the future, and it will be a negative thing in your opinion because it doesn't include more options.

If you're not arguing that past empirical data has some predictive value for future similar behavior, then I am failing to see what your point could be here. And, I am failing to see why you used all that future-tense language.
 
Last edited:

Dausuul

Legend
Well, I can't speak for KM, but here's my prediction. In cases where DMs are presented with default flavor/background material for a particular game element (monster, class, race, etc.), the default will substantially affect their behavior as follows:

  • Many DMs who find the default mildly objectionable will use it as written, where they otherwise would have made up something else.
  • Many DMs who find the default highly objectionable will avoid using that game element altogether, where they otherwise would have used it.
It's very hard to test this with a poll, because the default effect manifests in what people do rather than what they say they will do. In other words, if you make people stop and think about their options (e.g., because you're polling them), they're much more likely to choose a non-default option. The only way I can see to test this would be to devise a poll that asked about what people have actually done in their campaigns. But then you have to think of a game element which is both sufficiently popular and sufficiently controversial to get a decent sample size. Not sure offhand what that would be.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Well, I can't speak for KM, but here's my prediction. In cases where DMs are presented with default flavor/background material for a particular game element (monster, class, race, etc.), the default will substantially affect their behavior as follows:

  • Many DMs who find the default mildly objectionable will use it as written, where they otherwise would have made up something else.
  • Many DMs who find the default highly objectionable will avoid using that game element altogether, where they otherwise would have used it.
It's very hard to test this with a poll, because the default effect manifests in what people do rather than what they say they will do. In other words, if you make people stop and think about their options (e.g., because you're polling them), they're much more likely to choose a non-default option. The only way I can see to test this would be to devise a poll that asked about what people have actually done in their campaigns. But then you have to think of a game element which is both sufficiently popular and sufficiently controversial to get a decent sample size. Not sure offhand what that would be.

I am sure there is some monster for everyone where they simply didn't like the language in the MM for their game, for some past games. We can just ask "In the past when you came across a monster you wanted to use but didn't like the descriptive language in the book for that monster, what did you usually do?"
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Mistwell said:
I am not claiming you have some precognative abilities, I am saying you're arguing that this opt-in effect is LIKELY to have SOME INFLUENCE on how people behavior in the future.

Yeah, that's on-target, I am claiming that it is likely to have some influence.

Mistwell said:
And then all of a sudden you started to claim "my case doesn't involve a predictive element -- it's not about saying what people will do". And yet, you used the very language "will still be present" concerning a topic which influences what people will do.

What precise form that influence will take isn't in the scope of things I can really pretend to know. No one can know what's going to happen in the future. When you move from "you think it's likely to have some influence" to "you think people will do X," you're outside the scope of my claims. Maybe people will do X. Maybe that influence will take some other form, or be somehow mitigated. There's too many variables to know. That's the nature of the future.

Mistwell said:
Therefore, the conclusion one reasonably draws from what you've said, is if they do not include that optional language, then people will behavior a certain way in the future, and it will be a negative thing in your opinion because it doesn't include more options.

That I believe that it is likely to have an influence doesn't mean that I claim to know precisely what form that influence will take, so I can't claim that a certain behavior will occur in people. It's not a simple, causal, one-to-one relationship, because things usually aren't that simple when talking about human behaviors.

So we're getting much closer to my actual opinion, here. Lets see if I can similarly capture yours:

You believe that the advice in D&D's rulebooks to make up your own rules and stories if you want (something I'll call "Rule Zero" for expedience) effectively negates any significant default effect within the D&D audience, yes?
 

Greg K

Legend
You believe that the advice in D&D's rulebooks to make up your own rules and stories if you want (something I'll call "Rule Zero" for expedience) effectively negates any significant default effect within the D&D audience, yes?

And we saw from 3e how well that turned out among many D&D gamers.
1)Claims of "power went to the PCs" when the DMG tells DMs that they (the DM) are in charge of how the game is played at the table, how closely to adhere to the rules, which rules get used, and they can change the rules.
2) "Clerics are overpowered". The DMG has a variant suggesting tailoring spell lists to deity. However, many DMs don't use it, because it is "too much work"
3) "Wizards are overpowered". If the problem is specific spells, the DM can ban them (see 1 above and Rule:0 in the PHB). There is also the DMG training variant about Wizards having to find their spells (which puts the spells entering the game into the DMs hands).
4) "Players are going crazy with multiple PrCs": First, they are optional and under DM purview (DMG). The DM is supposed to decide if PrCs are being used and, if so, which (as appropriate for the campaign) to help define the campaign. They were not supposed to be player tools to mix and match into some build. So, if, according to the DMG, they are a DM decision to allow , the DM controls what comes into the campaign, and is in charge of how the game is played at the able, why are player's going crazy with multiple PrCs and, if they are, why were DMs not stopping the problem since the DMG says the DM can?
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
You believe that the advice in D&D's rulebooks to make up your own rules and stories if you want (something I'll call "Rule Zero" for expedience) effectively negates any significant default effect within the D&D audience, yes?

I think for monster descriptions, which have no mechanical effect on the game and which are heavily in the realm of DM information, it effectively negates any significant default effect for DMs.

I think for things which have mechanical impacts on players, rather than color impacts on DMs, the DMG caveat is likely not sufficient to negate the default effect.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top