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D&D 5E Randomness and D&D

prabe

Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Supporter
Fair enough. What are the differences with the games that do work for you?
The games that work for me ...

At some point, the things the PCs are going after need to arise from their interests, their goals, their backstories. The story that emerges from play needs to feel as though it is about them. That is not a feel published adventures do well, even if the GM is working hard to shape them some (and our GM was).

Part of that is my strong feeling that once you start a long adventure/adventure path, play at the table becomes about finishing that adventure, not ... about what the characters want, or about what the players really would prefer. If you look at what the players actually put on their character sheets--and even more so if you talk to them about what they put on their character sheets--you can get a good sense for what the players are looking for from the game, and you can shape play around that. That sort of player-responsiveness is also not a strength of published adventures, IME.
 

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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
The games that work for me ...

At some point, the things the PCs are going after need to arise from their interests, their goals, their backstories. The story that emerges from play needs to feel as though it is about them. That is not a feel published adventures do well, even if the GM is working hard to shape them some (and our GM was).

Part of that is my strong feeling that once you start a long adventure/adventure path, play at the table becomes about finishing that adventure, not ... about what the characters want, or about what the players really would prefer. If you look at what the players actually put on their character sheets--and even more so if you talk to them about what they put on their character sheets--you can get a good sense for what the players are looking for from the game, and you can shape play around that. That sort of player-responsiveness is also not a strength of published adventures, IME.
Gotcha, as a player I always dive into the campaign material and make my character fit from conception. I want to discover the secrets, bust the conspiracies, save the world as the material intends. I can see how doing the opposite works for many groups, though my experience is most players just simply dont care as much as I tend to for the former.
 

Clint_L

Hero
I hate random tables during play. For me, it takes away a lot of the fun of being a GM, as I love to improvise and riff of my players actions and choices in-game. And my players are very good at building suboptimal characters on their own, focusing on roleplaying and interesting concepts, rather than "winning" by rolling 18/00 in STR.

For me, randomness in the roll-the-dice sense is a gamey way of playing, while we focus more on letting the roleplaying take us where it may. It's more social pillar, drama, webs within webs of intrigue, rather than rolling dice on treasure tables.

But different strokes etc.
I have the opposite experience, and we also prioritize role-play and story. I love when a random roll adds an unexpected story element because that's when players have to change plans on the fly and really improvise, and that's when we get some of our most creative moments. And the omnipresent chance of failure adds real stakes to the story.

One of my favourite RPGs is Dread, where you simply pull jenga blocks to see if you live or die, basically, and that random element takes the dramatic tension off the charts.
 

prabe

Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Supporter
Gotcha, as a player I always dive into the campaign material and make my character fit from conception. I want to discover the secrets, bust the conspiracies, save the world as the material intends. I can see how doing the opposite works for many groups, though my experience is most players just simply dont care as much as I tend to for the former.
I'm perfectly happy to dive into setting details as a player, and I'm a strong believer that the PCs should fit into the setting (both as player and as GM). I'm somewhat less OK with the campaign establishing goals for the PCs. As GM, after I instigate something to start, I look to the PCs' backstories for things to weave in, or at least for an idea of the sorts of things they'll be interested in. Ideally, I can get them to the point that if/when they wrap a thing up, they have several choices for what to pursue next.
 

Randomness usually don’t fit with optimizer, balancer and challenger.
it fits well with unexpected ending and opportunities for open story.
 

HaroldTheHobbit

Adventurer
I have the opposite experience, and we also prioritize role-play and story. I love when a random roll adds an unexpected story element because that's when players have to change plans on the fly and really improvise, and that's when we get some of our most creative moments. And the omnipresent chance of failure adds real stakes to the story.

One of my favourite RPGs is Dread, where you simply pull jenga blocks to see if you live or die, basically, and that random element takes the dramatic tension off the charts.
Fun is fun however you come by it. But I use myself for those random story elements. I'm definitely not mathematically exact in my randomness if that is what one look for, but like to think I can create more interesting options on the spot from unlimited situational inputs than a static table.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
At some point, the things the PCs are going after need to arise from their interests, their goals, their backstories. The story that emerges from play needs to feel as though it is about them. That is not a feel published adventures do well, even if the GM is working hard to shape them some (and our GM was).
I'm sympathetic to this point of view. To my mind, the major issue with adventure paths is that they presume that the PCs are reactive in what they do, rather than proactive. It's never about achieving personal goals and ambitions, it's about stopping some looming threat to the region/world/multiverse, which can absolutely be interesting and dramatic, but tends to be one-size-fits-all in terms of motivation, since no one wants their home to be devastated.
 

In hindsight, it took one of the fighter's strengths in old editions, having the largest number of weapon proficiencies, and made it not matter as much. Because other than being able to hit certain enemies that couldn't otherwise be damaged, you weren't going to get as big of a bump from a magic weapon (barring the very powerful) as you would the one you specialized in, with its bonuses to attack and damage and greater attack rate.

Incidentally also why I'm not a fan of weapon specialization. If the fighter finds a weapon, I want him to be able to pick it up and use it effectively whether it's an axe, a sword or a bec-de-corbin.

Back to the randomness discuss, one thing I've found with 5e is that even if you don't want to use them at the table itself, there's a whole bunch of tables to inspire you in adventure and character creation. I love using the random quirks and qualities for magic items, for example, as it gives them so much more flavor. And when I'm stuck on a section of an adventure, rolling on this or that table is one of my go-to tricks.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
5e, from the very beginning, however, catered to a "less random" approach to the game. Monsters were presented with average damage totals to speed play. Players could opt to not roll hit dice, instead taking a set amount of hit points on level up.

Didn't those things come in with 4e?
4E gave fixed damage values for Minions only. 5E gives average damage as an option for every monster, as far as I've seen.

4E had every class give a fixed amount of additional HP per level. 5E gives the player the option to roll or take the high average value (so 6, say, or a d10). I think the 5E rule may have been an option in 3.x as well, though may have originated earlier, in late 2E.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Incidentally also why I'm not a fan of weapon specialization. If the fighter finds a weapon, I want him to be able to pick it up and use it effectively whether it's an axe, a sword or a bec-de-corbin.
Not a fan. Gage Infernus, the Great Harvest, whose prowess with his horrifying scythe is the heart of his legend... should not be reduced to using a dopey cavalry saber because the dice said so.
 

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