RPG characters compared to characters in stories

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Agreed.

...which in game terms means he's picking up leadership feats left right and centre.

That's merely an inference though. The text does not present us with anything to suggest "picking up" anything - there's no textual description of the process of adding these abilities. He could just as easily have always had them, but was not using them.

Indeed, he quite easily slips into leadership role as soon as he meets the hobbits in Bree.
 

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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
A lot of fantasy gets translated over to RPGs using some version of the zero to hero framework, which mitigates for one kind of class and advancement design. Starting at bumpkin and working up leaves a lot of design space. However, if characters are suppose to start at something more like 'capable adventurer' (or better) then things need to be handled differently.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
A lot of fantasy gets translated over to RPGs using some version of the zero to hero framework, which mitigates for one kind of class and advancement design. Starting at bumpkin and working up leaves a lot of design space. However, if characters are suppose to start at something more like 'capable adventurer' (or better) then things need to be handled differently.
Capable adventurer is an interesting term. For some, that means finding water in the desert, avoiding traps mundanely, and/or picking just the right spell for the day to succeed. For others it might mean sprouting wings to fly, shooting lasers out of your eyes, or being able to teleport. Another way to look at it is having the ability to fly once a day/encounter or being able to fly at will. Literature accounts for these kinds of things, but the D&D system has to walk the line between them and somehow provide both.
 


payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
This thread isn't just about D&D.
My apologies the Pulsipher quote is about D&D, and later 4E is referenced in the OP, so that's where my mind was. I do think its important to see how gamers view "heroic". For some its in deed, and others its in power. Highlighting that in a game's design and description is very important, IMO.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Capable adventurer is an interesting term. For some, that means finding water in the desert, avoiding traps mundanely, and/or picking just the right spell for the day to succeed. For others it might mean sprouting wings to fly, shooting lasers out of your eyes, or being able to teleport. Another way to look at it is having the ability to fly once a day/encounter or being able to fly at will. Literature accounts for these kinds of things, but the D&D system has to walk the line between them and somehow provide both.
Yeah, I had to think for a while before I found a term that worked for me. It can definitely mean different things in different games and genres and wasn't supposed to index a particular level of capability generally, other than in relation to 'bumpkin'.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
Yeah, I had to think for a while before I found a term that worked for me. It can definitely mean different things in different games and genres and wasn't supposed to index a particular level of capability generally, other than in relation to 'bumpkin'.
I didn't mean it directed at you, I think it generally needs to be answered for players of any RPG system.
 


It seems to me now that I want the ordinary play of an ordinarily-built PC to emulate (more or less) the ordinary feats of the literary or mythological inspiration. This doesn't mean auto-success - after all, those inspirational figures don't always succeed. (Even Gandalf is thwarted by cruel Caradhras.) But it means not requiring extraordinary luck to achieve, in play, feats that emulate the source material.

Yes, it took me a few years post-D&D to figure this out, but it's an entirely viable way of playing. In GURPS, this is often represented by the point level of a campaign. I remember being surprised that I could build a "starting" character who was actually quite skilled at some things (because there wasn't a concept of "levels"). This fits many genres far better than the zero-to-hero paradigm. If I'm running a Buffy-style game, I expect Willow to be a decent hacker right off the bat. Giles should be a research superstar. Buffy, of course, needs to be a phenomenal martial artist.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth (He/him)
That's merely an inference though. The text does not present us with anything to suggest "picking up" anything - there's no textual description of the process of adding these abilities. He could just as easily have always had them, but was not using them.

Indeed, he quite easily slips into leadership role as soon as he meets the hobbits in Bree.
Just as easily as an AD&D ranger attracts a body of followers at name-level. The process described in the text is just that of him meeting the hobbits and then being joined by the rest of the Fellowship after the journey to Rivendell. This is emulated by an AD&D ranger reaching 10th level, and it doesn't require extraordinary luck other than that needed to attain the required experience. It just happens. Although it does require a fair amount of luck of a different kind for the DM to roll up a body with the same composition as the Fellowship, it is nevertheless possible!
 

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