Magic, first games and expectations

Tonguez

Hero
One of the flaws of DnD is its over reliance on magic, in particular utility spells that substitute for others skills and abilities.

Of course no party is required to have a spellcaster but the ubiquity of magic items, magic traps and pesudomagical abilities gives the game a very magical orientation to the extent that certain scenarios only work if magic is either allowed for or actively countered, The classic example is Murder mystery V Speak with dead, and trying to lock things or bar doors is pointless when someone can cast Knock (I personally hate this spell)
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
A magical low-level Sword & Sorcery style is possible but this would need some changes because magic is necessary for fast healing, to discover some clues for investigations and monster with special damage resistance. Some monsters may be too powerful for PCs without the right spells.
 

Undrave

Hero
I find this question... strange.
And BTW it's totally fine, I was just musing on my own beginning and felt there might be an interesting origin to my tastes and wanted to share my reflection to stimulate discussion and activity on the board.

Doesn't really matter if I'm way off or weird, just that we got some chatter going :D
 

Undrave

Hero
One of the flaws of DnD is its over reliance on magic, in particular utility spells that substitute for others skills and abilities.

Of course no party is required to have a spellcaster but the ubiquity of magic items, magic traps and pesudomagical abilities gives the game a very magical orientation to the extent that certain scenarios only work if magic is either allowed for or actively countered, The classic example is Murder mystery V Speak with dead, and trying to lock things or bar doors is pointless when someone can cast Knock (I personally hate this spell)
It would be interesting if we were able to know why some particular 'overcome challenge' spells like Knock or Speak With Dead were invented and in what circumstances, what was their intended usage. Like, there's no reason for a spell like Knock to exist in D&D aside from tradition.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I don't think I've ever designed an adventure that requires magic using characters. There might be obstacles that can be bypassed more easily with magic but generally, any party would be able to make it through with or without spellcasting. This is probably because I build my adventures for the party so I know what they are capable of doing. Even if I do have spellcasters, I'm not going to put something critical to the adventure behind something that is gated behind specific magic since I don't know which spells the party will have prepped.

If I am putting something in the game that requires magic then it is something set in the adventure that has some sort of magical key or effect that the players can find, sort of like the various Zelda games and their dungeons that can only be completed once you find the new magic item in the dungeon.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
And BTW it's totally fine, I was just musing on my own beginning and felt there might be an interesting origin to my tastes...
Well, then we should note that tastes and expectations are two different beasts. Your tastes and preferences are fine - I do not argue with them.

The statement, "I prefer a party that has X, Y, and Z," is not the same as, "I expect A, B, and C in adventures," are not the same.

I have game preferences to. But I expect the adventures to take the party into account, even if the party doesn't match my preferences.
 

the Jester

Legend
For some DMs that's apparently blasphemy :p be careful the Simulationists don't get to you :p
Hey, you can be a simulationist while still acknowledging that other playstyles are valid.

I like to think of this as a spectrum, rather than an either-or option. Kind of like the sandbox-to-story-based spectrum.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well, then we should note that tastes and expectations are two different beasts. Your tastes and preferences are fine - I do not argue with them.

The statement, "I prefer a party that has X, Y, and Z," is not the same as, "I expect A, B, and C in adventures," are not the same.

I have game preferences to. But I expect the adventures to take the party into account, even if the party doesn't match my preferences.
It's a question of which should bend: the adventure to suit the party, or the party to suit the adventure.

Realism would suggest the party bends every time, as the adventure simply is what it is no matter who goes there. (and who goes back there; who says any given adventure is only going to be run once?)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
It's a question of which should bend: the adventure to suit the party, or the party to suit the adventure.

Realism would suggest the party bends every time, as the adventure simply is what it is no matter who goes there. (and who goes back there; who says any given adventure is only going to be run once?)
That's fair. Even if the adventure doesn't bend to suit the characters, one presumes it might bend to suit the players, at least as far as choice of adventure, or at least adventure type. At least, if it's not something previously placed. Dunno if I'm clear ...
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
That's fair. Even if the adventure doesn't bend to suit the characters, one presumes it might bend to suit the players, at least as far as choice of adventure, or at least adventure type. At least, if it's not something previously placed. Dunno if I'm clear ...
Clear enough.

Most of the time there's several adventures (of different types) they could choose to do next, unless they've embarked on what amounts to a mini-AP where one directly follows another.
 

the Jester

Legend
To answer the OP, and get to the meat of the thread:

Of course people play what they like, but would you be uncomfortable in a party where the most magical character is like... I dunno, an Arcane Trickster or a guy who took Magic Initiate - Cleric? Would you be surprise to get to a random table and find not a single caster? That's sorta what I meant by expectations.
I'd be perfectly comfortable with such a group, though a little surprised, because the groups I run/play with are pretty large. The odds of six to eight all martial characters are pretty low. But I'd dig it, either as a pc or as a dm.

Despite that I've been around for ten years I still feel like an outsider, or a noob, when it comes to D&D and to me it almost looks like there's a sort of 'Wizard subculture' within our little subculture.
I think that's probably true. There's an element of wish fulfillment that playing a character who can fly, teleport, or summon angels can fill that a purely realistic, martial character can't touch- because you can't do those things even in the real world.

On the subject of martial options in 4e- yeah, no edition before (or since) has had such a complex, layered, fleshed-out set of martial options available. But that said, at a certain point, a lot of them stop feeling strictly martial. Where that point is depends on the individual; for some, it's damage on a miss, for others it's Come and Get It, and for still others, it's martial powers that deal energy damage. I do really yearn for a good warlord base class in 5e, though.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Clear enough.

Most of the time there's several adventures (of different types) they could choose to do next, unless they've embarked on what amounts to a mini-AP where one directly follows another.
I thought I remembered that you ran that way. Not radically different from how I at least prefer to run, though I don't worry as much about realism/neutrality as you do--I'll drop an instigating event wherever the players are to add a thread for them to consider.
 

the Jester

Legend
It's a question of which should bend: the adventure to suit the party, or the party to suit the adventure.
I run a hardcore sandbox, in which lots of adventures are already out there, regardless of party composition. But some adventures won't interest some parties. A good-aligned party isn't going to bite at an adventure that involves assassinating good figures, and an evil party is unlikely to go after a mission whose only reward is the good will of a family of peasants.

Also, parties of adventurers tend to set things in motion that create new adventures- they make enemies, get pulled into the interests of friends and allies, leave adventures half-finished (and BBEGs thirsting for vengeance), etc. So you might say that adventuring parties are sorts of petri dishes for adventure growth.
 

Undrave

Hero
Well, then we should note that tastes and expectations are two different beasts. Your tastes and preferences are fine - I do not argue with them.

The statement, "I prefer a party that has X, Y, and Z," is not the same as, "I expect A, B, and C in adventures," are not the same.

I have game preferences to. But I expect the adventures to take the party into account, even if the party doesn't match my preferences.
Oh sure, but sometimes, when you don't examin your own likes and bias, you might be frustrated that a game doesn't fit your expectations without realizing your expectations are actually just your own likes and dislikes being projected.

Classic case of "if I don't like that, why would anybody else do?" you know? It can happen to all of us.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Realism would suggest the party bends every time, as the adventure simply is what it is no matter who goes there. (and who goes back there; who says any given adventure is only going to be run once?)
"Realism"?

My game world does not have a meaningful existence on its own. It has no objective reality, extant separate from the context of the players playing in it. In Gygax's time, folks considered the campaign world a thing of its own, and many different folks might play in it. But... I don't have that kind of time or campaign setup.

My game exists for the players, not the other way around.

I only have so many hours to play, and only so many groups I play with. In a very practical sense, if I design or purchase an adventure, and players abandon it because they don't have the skills to succeed, then the effort of design or the resources of purchase are largely wasted.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Oh sure, but sometimes, when you don't examine your own likes and bias, you might be frustrated that a game doesn't fit your expectations without realizing your expectations are actually just your own likes and dislikes being projected.
Who said anything about not examining? This is kind of out of left field.

Really, all I did was note that one's personal preference is not necessarily equivalent to what one expects to see at the table. This is an understanding that as a practical matter, games are going to be a compromise, between what you want, and what is good for the group. This is an aid to examination, rather than indication that examination doesn't happen.
 

Undrave

Hero
Who said anything about not examining? This is kind of out of left field.

Really, all I did was note that one's personal preference is not necessarily equivalent to what one expects to see at the table. This is an understanding that as a practical matter, games are going to be a compromise, between what you want, and what is good for the group. This is an aid to examination, rather than indication that examination doesn't happen.
I was just trying to clarify where I got to the OP... but I can see the confusion. I'm mostly talking of the 'game' as the rule books and stuff and not so much at the table.

Like how certain people are dissapointed by the 5e Wizard because they think it's not up to what a Wizard 'should be' but its really just that like a certain version of the wizard. And then I wondered if your first RPG might influence that sort of preference.

Ya know?

Or I'm just a little scatterbrained in my posts. It's not like I got a point to make to you, I think you're right a game should be approached with a spirit of compromise and the game in the books isn't really the same as the game at the table in general.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
No reason for that line of thinking to have ever changed. He/they got it right the first time.
Oh, there's a bunch of reasons - my post laid several of them out. There are others. But, your declaration of this as a fact, rather than as in inquiry, strongly suggests your mind is alredy made up on the matter, and there is no value in taking on the Sysiphean task of changing it.
 

Eric V

Adventurer
I only have so many hours to play, and only so many groups I play with. In a very practical sense, if I design or purchase an adventure, and players abandon it because they don't have the skills to succeed, then the effort of design or the resources of purchase are largely wasted.
Game-wise, I can't think of anything more discouraging, considering I play with a group of close friends.

It's a game, first and foremost; people need to be able to have fun. This is true for any game, really; just yesterday, we realized that playing Marvel Code Names wasn't going to work because one of the players just wasn't that familiar with the Marvel product, and the game includes some surprisingly obscure stuff.
 

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