D&D General "Player Skill" versus DM Ingenuity as a playstyle.

It is very much an arms race of creativity between the players and referee. But not in an antagonistic sense. I think this is one of the core reasons why the stuff in the OSR is so wildly creative and the DIY spirit permeates the scene. Every player is constantly tasked with creatively solving puzzles and the referee is constantly tasked with introducing new creative puzzles. Again, puzzles here standing in for all the stuff whether literal puzzles, unique monsters, traps, etc.
The difficult part is to devise fairly discoverable clues and puzzles so as not to be opaque but not so easy and transparent that it is not a challenge. Many will argue that Tomb of Horrors leans to opaque, but then Gygax was running that adventure for seasoned vets. Mixing and changing monster abilities and tactics, and new devious traps made for many a Dragon article back in the day.
 

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Belen

Hero
Thanks for the detailed reply.

Can you remember a time or adventure where the EW quote in the OP was relevant? Specifically that the GM had to find or invent come completely new things because the players already knew all the tricks (mimics, troll regeneration, etc)? That is what drew me to the quote, that it suggested there was something of a arms race between player knowledge and GM ingenuity. Also, importantly, "player/character knowledge" separation wasn't a thing?
Yes. I had an issue with groups like this where players felt like they needed to "win" the game and there was an antagonistic relationship between players and DM.

I believe it is better recognized these days as toxic but may still be around to some degree if the DM struggles to find challenges for the players.

I have specific table rules these days to cut down on it and I will call it out if I think it is happening.
 

Yes. I had an issue with groups like this where players felt like they needed to "win" the game and there was an antagonistic relationship between players and DM.

I believe it is better recognized these days as toxic but may still be around to some degree if the DM struggles to find challenges for the players.

I have specific table rules these days to cut down on it and I will call it out if I think it is happening.
The 'arms race' aspect of all this was really in the early days of the hobby. When it was assumed only way to challenge a party was to devise new monsters the party hadn't encountered yet, or the players had bought and read all the books. As the hobby grew, there came more creative ways of challenge than simply introducing a new monster.

The tournament module was a bit of a 'win' scenario in that folks at a con would be competing to see how far they got in the tourney, and which table worked together the best. It's not always toxic - people like challenge.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
By means of challenging the PC in the fiction. The challenge to the player is corollary to that.

That's just an alternate means of resolving the same challenge (and it ain't the PC making the roll... :) )
Yeah, yeah. I view resolving problems with rolls the same as combat. To me, both are fail states. You didn’t sufficiently engage your creativity and/or interact with the fictional environment enough to avoid using the dice. Stack the fictional odds so much in your favor via player creativity that you don’t need to roll. To me, it’s “I don’t want to think, so I’ll roll instead.”
 

Yeah, yeah. I view resolving problems with rolls the same as combat. To me, both are fail states. You didn’t sufficiently engage your creativity and/or interact with the fictional environment enough to avoid using the dice. Stack the fictional odds so much in your favor via player creativity that you don’t need to roll. To me, it’s “I don’t want to think, so I’ll roll instead.”
I actually don't allow players to push the I Solve The Mystery button, though I'll give them plenty of clues with rolls.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I actually don't allow players to push the I Solve The Mystery button, though I'll give them plenty of clues with rolls.
I give them the clues for free, no roll required. It’s up to them to solve the mystery though. I will use a Call of Cthulhu 7E trick though. If they’re really, truly stumped someone makes an INT check. If they succeed, we move the story ahead to where they get another clue. If they fail, we move the story ahead to where the bad guys take it personal that the PCs are sticking their noses where they don’t belong.
 

I give them the clues for free, no roll required. It’s up to them to solve the mystery though. I will use a Call of Cthulhu 7E trick though. If they’re really, truly stumped someone makes an INT check. If they succeed, we move the story ahead to where they get another clue. If they fail, we move the story ahead to where the bad guys take it personal that the PCs are sticking their noses where they don’t belong.
I was thinking more like when a player says they want to use some observation skill, I usually let them roll to notice something, but yeah these succeed almost all the time.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Ideally yes; they should as far as possible think as their characters would think. This shouldn't impact things like puzzle-solving in that the PCs can, on average, solve puzzles just as well as the players can.

That said, for things like language-based riddles in English I just assume that a similar riddle is being presented to the PCs in a language they know, and that use of English as a substitute is merely an abstraction.
I'm talking about things like "you need fire or acid to kill the troll." The bit of text quoted in the OP suggests that in those early days of the hobby, players learning those things was how they improved and so the GM needed new secrets, puzzles and gotcha monsters.

So when you did or do play in this style, do you enforce a separation of player vs character knowledge as it relates to monsters etc?
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I was thinking more like when a player says they want to use some observation skill, I usually let them roll to notice something, but yeah these succeed almost all the time.
Ah, right. I do the bit where I make the player describe where they search and what they’re searching for. They find whatever they would find. I don’t do pixel hunting. That can die in a fire. If they’re close enough on either what or where, I’ll give it to them. For a real mystery scenario, the clues are all obvious, as in out-in-the open. No in-depth search required.
 


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