Of Mooks, Plot Armor, and ttRPGs

Well, it is rare for a player to be so honest and direct and say "I want weak easy foes". A lot of DMs agree with the players about easy mook encounters, so the whole game is easy. The players don't need to say anything. Though in most games it is very easy for a DM to make things hard as the players will set things up that way.
I'm honestly curious, how do you know there are a lot of people like this? I'm sure there might be some out there, but I don't think I've met any.
 

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I think we all agree the Goblins are mooks and the Giant is a real foe. The Winter Wolves probably count as real foes as well - but the ordinary wolves? In my view they're also actual foes, in that if they pack-swarm someone that person could be in a world o' trouble even if each wolf wouldn't stand a chance if fought individually.
I'd disagree. This sinks new players in my game quite often. Why is the frost giant the real foe? Because it is the biggest foe? The strongest foe? The most powerful foe? Why are the goblins mooks? Because they are small? Because they are weak?

Why would a player "think" that goblins would always be weak? Why does the player cherry pick races? Humans and elves could be weak or powerful, but goblins must always be weak? Why?
It just does not place the authority to alter the game solely in the GM's hands.
This is just not true. Sure a DM could willing give up all there power to the group of players: but that is their choice. In no way is this the way all games must be.

It's much more common to have all the authority of the game in the DMs hands. The players can have a voice, but no vote. As a DM my game has a three second reaction rule. If a player does not like that rule, they don't have to play in my game. I will never change my rule. Even if all the players got together and voted all characters get bonus hit points, I'm never going to add that to my game. Even if the players demanded it, I would simply not run the game.

Before we agree to play a game together we are all just people. No one is the GM outside the play of the game.
Again not true. For most groups the DM also has to take actions outside the game to control things. When you get nearly any group of people together, one person HAS to be the responsible adult.

Just take the simple: Everyone agrees to come over and start the game at 6pm. Only one player shows up at six. Over the next two hours the other players show up with lame reasons. Now, sure the DM could just say "way cool" and happily start the game at 9pm. Many other DMs would just cancel the game, and add "anyone late next time is kicked out of the game". It's simple: someone must be the adult.

Same way Player 1 is a jerk, so they pick on and bully Player 2..the other players just laugh. Again it's 100% up to the DM to say and do something.

I'm honestly curious, how do you know there are a lot of people like this? I'm sure there might be some out there, but I don't think I've met any.
I've gamed with a couple thousand people.
 

Again not true. For most groups the DM also has to take actions outside the game to control things.
Not really, no? Why should it be on the GM?
When you get nearly any group of people together, one person HAS to be the responsible adult.
This is how you treat other grown-ups?
Just take the simple: Everyone agrees to come over and start the game at 6pm. Only one player shows up at six. Over the next two hours the other players show up with lame reasons. Now, sure the DM could just say "way cool" and happily start the game at 9pm. Many other DMs would just cancel the game, and add "anyone late next time is kicked out of the game". It's simple: someone must be the adult.
Or, call me crazy here, the GM - or the other player who showed up on time! - could say, "Hey guys, we agreed to show up at 6. It doesn't sound like there was an emergency or anything, so let's talk about this. Are you unhappy with the game? Is there something going on in your life that's getting in the way?"

The GM is not solely responsible for the group. The GM is important, certainly - their presence is necessary to continue with that game - but they are not the boss, the parent, or the disciplinarian. The group is responsible for the group.

Now, yes, if a person is for whatever reason unable to show up consistently, inconveniencing the other players, a decision has to be made about what to do. One decision might be to exclude them - harsh, but occasionally necessary. Another possibility would be to find a way for their character to drift in and out of the game. There are other possibilities.

But we are, hopefully, a group of adults and equals, even friends. We can work things out. The GM's authority within the game does not extend outside of it. That's just not how adult life works in my understanding, especially among friends.
 

Not really, no? Why should it be on the GM?
Someone has to do it. Players refuse to do it themselves.

It would be great if 'player 1' would say something to three hour late 'player 2'....but even if they did, player 2 would just say "so what".

The DM has the power to penalize the player or kick them from the game...even more so if the DM is the host.

This is how you think of other grown-ups?

Or, call me crazy here, the GM - or the other player who showed up on time! - could say, "Hey guys, we agreed to show up at 6. It doesn't sound like there was an emergency or anything, so let's talk about this. Are you unhappy with the game? Is there something going on in your life that's getting in the way?"
Ok, sure, you do that. The late players just say "oh come on relax your over reacting" . And they continue to do it each week. So, you just "talk" about it each week. I guess you might say that after 12 weeks you might finally do something. I'd say a good DM does something at week one.

It's a bit too much "perfect world" to say most players...most people "do" anything when they should.
 

Why that is is because, in my view, part of the GM's role is to set the parameters and rules of the game...though of course this can also be done by mutual discussion and agreement among all; which means the players come into it as well, muddying the waters even further as to who "says".

Note I'm talking here largely about what happens before play even begins, when the GM and-or group is deciding on a system and-or if-how to modify it.

Pretty much, yes; people could put their own stamp on things and see if they could do them better. And some in fact would make improvements, while many would not.

Obviously things like copyright and patent laws etc. make much of this merely hypothetical. But take, for example, a band doing a cover of someone else's song. The new version could be better, worse, or note-for-note the same as the original, but it's not the original: that cover band has taken that song and put their own stamp on it, even if they didn't create/write the song themselves.

If I had the (probably ridiculous amount of) money it'd need, I'd love to be able to take an ordinary car and get it modified such that it more closely does what I want it to do in the manner I want it done.

Why TTRPGs are unique here is that - in comparison with art, music, cars, etc. - many (most?) people do have the chops and available means to modify them and make them more bespoke to their own wishes/needs/desires.

And further, where even in their infancy most games - and most products in general - are presented and marketed (intentionally or otherwise) as "here it is, take it or leave it", and thus that's what we as consumers have become accustomed to; RPGs - particularly D&D - were initially presented as more "here's a mostly-complete framework, make what you will of it"*. They expected and in some cases required modifications and additions in order to become a) bespoke to the table and b) in some cases, playable; and that process would almost universally be done by the GM either before play began or ad-hoc during play as issues arose. (remember, in theory the DMG was off-limits to players)

And so, the philosophy of RPG rules - in rather stark contrast to the rules of most other games - being seen as malleable to suit each table and-or GM came about; helped immensely by the fact that all it took to do so was a pencil, some paper, and some thought and time. Thus, in some ways the GM and the system became one and the same.

* - Gygax in his 1e DMG was famously conflicted on this, arguing for uniformity in some places then exhorting DMs to kitbash the system in others; looking at it now I suspect this conflict arose from an inability to square his own tendencies as a designer/kitbasher with his/TSR's desire for uniformity in order to sell more books.

Is the above what you seek? If not, please clarify.

Not sure if you're saying that "experts don't feel that they are experts" or that "experts think they're more expert than they are". In either case it doesn't much matter; the key point is the ability to be - and feel - able to do these things rather than the quality of the result as seen by anyone other than the doer.
My feeling is that, to a degree, both types of games, ones that are 'kits' and ones that are kind of finished polished products, both exist. Certainly classic TSR D&D mostly falls in the former category (and the original game is purely a kit, lol). I'm not quite so sure about WotC D&Ds, I think there's definitely a concept there of a core and some ability for things to add onto that core. 4e is the tightest, you certainly CAN extend or bash on it, though it was less common. 5e I haven't seen much of that going on either, but its definitely feasible.

With other games, like say Apocalypse World, or Dungeon World, you can do add-ons, and you COULD bash it too, but its more common to abstract out some of the essentials and build a new game. These games are often pretty lightweight in mechanical terms. The old universal systems like BRP and GURPS were kind of meant to work this way, though they were fairly clunky. FATE was probably one of the earliest games of this ilk, potentially very lightweight, but infinitely extensible and only barely a 'game', but generally if you use it, you build a whole game around it, you don't just weld some stuff onto the side of an existing FATE-based game.

I'd say that the tendency for true intentionally designed as a kit or at least modular games, not as common as in the old days. Much more common to see people picking up a specific game that is a variation of a family of RPGs and playing it as-is, because it is tightly designed and does its thing well. Of course there's mods on mods, Dungeon World was a hack of Apocalypse World, and Stonetop is a hack of Dungeon World... (barely though, its pretty close to DW with better playbooks and a bit different agenda/premise).
 

Someone has to do it. Players refuse to do it themselves.
...No, not really?
It would be great if 'player 1' would say something to three hour late 'player 2'....but even if they did, player 2 would just say "so what".
They would? I wouldn't.
The DM has the power to penalize the player or kick them from the game...even more so if the DM is the host.
Point out for me in the game rules where it says the GM has the power to penalize players or kick them from the game.
Ok, sure, you do that. The late players just say "oh come on relax your over reacting" .
Is this how adults act where you are? Because this is not how adults act where I'm from. It certainly isn't friendly.
And they continue to do it each week.
If there's no emergency and no personal issues and they keep doing it, obviously they do not really want to be part of the group. I would inform them of our conclusion and act accordingly.

But in point of fact, I haven't ever had anyone I gamed with act in this way. And while I haven't gamed with over a thousand people, it's got to be approaching a hundred.
So, you just "talk" about it each week. I guess you might say that after 12 weeks you might finally do something. I'd say a good DM does something at week one.
Kindly don't put words in my mouth, nor attribute actions to me that are not my own, thanks. I'm quite done with your passive-aggressive phrasing of things.
It's a bit too much "perfect world" to say most players...most people "do" anything when they should.
What can I say? I wasn't aware I was living in a perfect world. Good to know.
 
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Well, nothing requires you to like it. I was just noting that "mooks=no challenge" is not routinely the way designs use those. They're there for the joy of being able to fight through hordes, but not to be a waste of time; they actually function as a challenge.
Eh, 4e mooks (minions) can DEFINITELY be a challenge. Ask my first play group about the orc minion gauntlet! I made a whole level + 4 encounter that was nothing but orc archer minions, off on an island in a body of water where you would have to wade out to get them or else fire at them at extreme range. Then there was a way past that only required the PCs to run by for one round, except HAHA! there was a boat out on the island you MUST have to continue, so you run past, find out you can't continue without wading out to the island, and get bombed by this plethora of archers (which do somewhat less damage individually than standard orc archers, but there are 4x as many of them). Of course the party DID kill off a pretty decent number as they slogged their way out there, but man they were cursing and only the wizard was fairly happy with Magic Missile being pretty effective (I think he actually burned an AP to fire it twice to kill an extra minion, lol).

I've done a few other, less evil, setups where minions were quite effective. If they can avoid damage until they get in an attack or two, they're quite worthwhile, so cover, maybe invisibility, some terrain as above, etc. can make them good. And why wouldn't evil bad guy commanders kinda know this "My warriors are weak, but if I put them behind this parapet and arm them with bows and spears..." Even orcs can figure that out!
 

I took "because GM" to mean "arrogantly unwilling to give reasons or listen to players' points, Do It Because I Said So In Dad Voice", which I assuredly wouldn't put up with either. Maybe I'm wrong about @niklinna's intent.

But yeah, if the GM ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. They're taking the trouble to run the game, one shouldn't as a player be belligerent.

I do expect the GM to listen and to at least be willing to consider changing their mind if it's called for. They're human too, and can forget or overlook things that have been established.

Also, as mentioned, in story games the GM's role is often a bit more circumscribed. The fiction is generally everybody's responsibility.
Right, I'm not one to have a great interest in power struggles or need to assert myself constantly. So if I'm playing a game, unless things are really not going well, I'm usually interested in whatever the GM might be up to, and willing to go with their lead on a lot of things. Now and then I've expressed my opinion that a game might be better off doing X instead of Y, pretty rarely!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I'd disagree. This sinks new players in my game quite often. Why is the frost giant the real foe? Because it is the biggest foe? The strongest foe? The most powerful foe? Why are the goblins mooks? Because they are small? Because they are weak?
Pretty much "yes" to all of those, unless there's something very odd going on.
Why would a player "think" that goblins would always be weak? Why does the player cherry pick races? Humans and elves could be weak or powerful, but goblins must always be weak? Why?
While there's nothing to say one of the Goblins isn't a trained 14th-level Fighter, given that the PCs are meeting a Frost Giant the odds are extremely high they've already met and dealt with numerous Goblins in their previous adventures; and odds are just as high that 99+% of those Goblins were rather pathetic as opponents except when the PCs were still 1st level. So, Goblin = mook in the eyes of both characters and players, until and unless one shows it's somehow got more going for it.
 

Point to me in the game rules where it says the GM has the power to penalize players or kick them from the game.
What game are you talking about? The GM has the power, or the players can find another GM. It's simple.
Is this how adults act where you are? Because this is not how adults act where I'm from. It certainly isn't friendly.
Well, everyone is different.
If there's no emergency and no personal issues and they keep doing it, obviously they do not really want to be part of the group. I would inform them of our conclusion and act accordingly.

But in point of fact, I haven't ever had anyone I gamed with act in this way. And while I haven't gamed with over a thousand people, it's got to be pushing a hundred.
Well, by some amazing stroke of luck you have never met a bad person ever. Guess you will have to just trust me when I say they do exist in the world.
Kindly don't put words in my mouth, nor attribute actions to me that are not my own, thanks. I'm quite done with your passive-aggressive phrasing of things.

What can I say? I wasn't aware I was living in a perfect world. Good to know.
It is odd how you take every word I type directed at you. Again, if I was to make a comment about you, I'd use your name.
 

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