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Legends and Lore - Maintaining the Machine, Revisited: The Poll Results

The Shaman

First Post
Ground Rule: If you want to talk about helmets of potion drinking, go do it in the other thread - here, it's threadcrapping and will be referred to the moderators as such.

The poll results are in, and they are pretty interesting.

First, I found that fact that over half of the respondents rated their dungeon masters five-of-five on the 'Awesome!' and well over ninety percent rated their dungeon masters as three-of-five or higher encouraging. Less than three percent were rated one-of-five.

With that in mind, it makes sense that the respondents also agreed heavily with the statements, "The DM is better at handling some situations than the rules" - five-of-five over fifty percent, two-of-five or less at five percent - and, "The game should make room for the DM to make real decisions" - five-for-five nearly fifty percent, and two-of-five or less under seven percent.

The statement, "The rules are better at handling some situations than the DM," received less support - five-of-five just thrty-two percent, or around a third, and two-of-five or less over seventeen percent, or not quite one-fifth.

I think one of the aspects that makes tabletop roleplaying games a unique form of entertainment is the referee's role. Having a living, breathing human being to adjudicate and arbitrate the action bings unmatched flexibility and creativity to game-play. Note that this extends to games with shared or distributed referee authority as well - the advantage comes from the wetware interface, not necessarily the number of terminals, as it were.

I prefer games which provide the tools to quick, consistent adjudication and arbitration by the refeee rather than games which substitute extensive rules for the referee's judgement. I've read the argument that consistency is best achieved by those extensive rules, but in my expeience they come at a loss of flexibility and speed. For me, a game which provides a principle or a rule-of-thumb for how skills work is preferable to a game with exhaustive delineation of how each skill works.

Frex, skill checks in Flashing Blades are made by rolling under an attribute score, such as Wit or Charm or Luck. To make a task more difficult, I can assign a modifier, or I can simply divide the attibute score by two or three, to reflect a more significant challenge. This provides me with a fast, flexible, consistent rule-of-thumb for making rulings in play across the full spectrum of non-martial skills without attempting to address every possible corner case for each. This is a useful tool.

In any case, I found the poll results interesting.
 

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the Jester

Legend
Thanks for the link, if nothing else it oughta be worth a laugh. :)

On the subject of the balance between dm and rules, one thing that makes it hard to fine-tune this to perfection in a system is that each dm's comfort zone for adjudication is different. Some prefer a more "charts and table" approach where you roll random reactions from npcs while others would rather adjudicate the npcs' reactions based on roleplaying and throw dice out the window. It's the classic "social interaction problem" writ large.
 

howandwhy99

Adventurer
I think referees or DMs are good at observational judgments just like players are good at being strategic and creative. The rules best and most important role is as record. They serve as a very capable memory or storage device for all participants to return back to.

It's not infallible - just like this website might go down - but we can return back here and read them again and again as needed. Plus, it probably best to make copies. It's not that I can't remember all the rules, they simply succeed better than my brain does at remembering when memory is important to the task at hand.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I think there's an interesting point to be made about the DMs role in modern RPGs which compete against the latest video games.

As video games increasingly make complex gameplay faster and easier, it falls naturally that RPGs would want to start highlighting their strengths, and the greatest remaining strength is the human DM.

Having a system give the DM more power and flexibility makes a lot of sense on that context alone.
 

FireLance

Legend
First, I found that fact that over half of the respondents rated their dungeon masters five-of-five on the 'Awesome!' and well over ninety percent rated their dungeon masters as three-of-five or higher encouraging. Less than three percent were rated one-of-five.
It's probably perverse of me to do so, but I should point out that there is a likely to be a selection bias to the answers to this question.

If you are visiting the web site of the company that produces D&D, it is likely that you are currently playing the game, or have had enough positive experiences with the game to get interested in it.

If you are currently playing the game or have had several positive experiences with it, it is likely that your DM is average or better.

People who encounter poor DMs are unlikely to stay with them, and those who have only encountered poor DMs are unlikely to gain or retain an interest in the game.

That said, I do agree that a human DM is one of the comparative advantages that table-top RPGs still have over computer RPGs, and capitalizing on that advantage is probably a good idea.
 

Hussar

Legend
And, to add to that Firelance, it also depends on how you choose to spin the results. One could quite easily say that 1 in 4 said that their DM is fair to poor (3 being fair) which tends to jive with the results of similar polls I've seen on Enworld. Granted the fact that over half gave 5 out of 5 is very, very encouraging.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
And, to add to that Firelance, it also depends on how you choose to spin the results. One could quite easily say that 1 in 4 said that their DM is fair to poor (3 being fair) which tends to jive with the results of similar polls I've seen on Enworld. Granted the fact that over half gave 5 out of 5 is very, very encouraging.
Another uncharted variable is how much experience players have had with playing under different DMs. I mean, if you've only ever had one DM you might think she's excellent only because you've no real measuring stick to compare against. The corollary is that someone who has played under 30 or 40 DMs is likely to give a lower rating to the current one due to comparison with a gaming god-like DM # 16 from a decade or so back.

Lan-"in Decast, potion drinks helmet"-efan
 

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