RPG Writing and Design Needs a Paradigm Shift


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SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
For me it is a must, in that in my view a ruling sets (or should set) a binding precedent for the remainder of that campaign in order to preserve consistency. As such, I'd prefer that as many such potential rulings as possible be nailed by the designers* before play even starts.
I am the same way. When I need to make a fairly significant ruling, the intent is that's the way we're doing it this point forward. And as awesome as I and my players are, decisions made on the spot in reaction to a specific situation might have larger implications that we might want. And those sorts of things I hope are settled by the designers before the game comes to my table.
 

There was an old version of Fireball posted upthread than also had its duration listed as "1 turn", which struck me as odd. Is it possible that 1 turn didn't always equal 10 minutes in the earliest versions but instead meant what we'd now see as 1 round, or one player's (or side's) turn at the table?
Unfortunately the original game's 'rules' with respect to this sort of thing are extremely fragmented and confusing. First of all the combat system is described as being Chainmail, but that system uses a 20:1 figure to creature ratio and is intended for mass combat, so turns are minutes long at the very least. Clearly D&D intends to adapt that system to a 1:1 ratio, but it is pretty vague about how that works. Book 3 has some time rules here and there, one being p 35 where it discusses campaign time and movement, and wilderness time. On page 25 is a paragraph called 'land combat' which states that chainmail is used with a 1:1 figure ratio, but it doesn't mention time at all. Page 8 discusses time in the underworld, but the terminology is, to say the least, confusing! It indicates scale is inches to feet and movement is 'in segments of approximately 10 minutes', but then states that 'it takes ten minutes to move about two moves', which I assume is referencing the phased movement rules of Chainmail, maybe? Then it says that 2 moves 'constitute a turn'. So we are left with the conclusion that the original rules agree with AD&D, a turn is 10 minutes. This also happens to mean that the movement rates come out the same as AD&D 1e, which all seems reasonably consistent at least.

As for melee, a single sentence at the end of this section suggests "There are ten rounds of combat per turn." Again, consistent with AD&D 1e we get 1 minute melee rounds, 10 per turn.

I think the only conclusion we can come to is that Fireball has a 'duration' of 10 minutes, but that this is essentially a meaningless value since the EFFECT is clearly instantaneous.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
There was an old version of Fireball posted upthread than also had its duration listed as "1 turn", which struck me as odd. Is it possible that 1 turn didn't always equal 10 minutes in the earliest versions but instead meant what we'd now see as 1 round, or one player's (or side's) turn at the table?
That was from the PDF copy of the Moldvay Basic Set I downloaded from DM’s Guild. This is from the introduction to spells on B15.

B:X on spell length.png


Edit: I went back and checked the fireball spells I posted. None of them had a duration in turns, so I assume we’re talking about the magic missile I posted. Fire Ball in B/X has a duration of “instantaneous”.

B:X - Fireball.png
 
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Where I say the solution IS to, within reason, fortress the game against dysfunctional players and GMs. I mean, that's what the bloody rules are for, isn't it?

No that isn't why they exist. They exist to provide a framework of play that allows to resolve uncertainty and any points of disagreement that could arise. But I don't think the default of a rules system should be designed with bad GMs in mind and Bad players in mind. I think it is much better to assume good faith players and GMs trying to all have a good time. For my part, if there is a problem with peopel at the table, I just don't play with those people. If I meet a GM and that GM clearly has an adversarial relationship with players, I won't be in that campaign. But I don't need or want the system to try to prevent that GM from being adversarial, especially if the methods used inhibit good GMing
 

Agreed. There's nothing wrong with forcing the DM to make rulings. But once made, those rulings become part of the rules of that campaign.

We just disagree on this point. I mean yes it is likely the way a spell gets used will be allowable in the future, but I don't think you are creating a long list of rules when you do that. That isn't the point. Ideally if the GM and the players all thought it was reasonable to allow the first time, they will still think it is reasonable. But I don't write down each one of these things as they come up and I am not super worried about them being consistently applied. The point of simple spells is simplicity. So I don't want to add complexity over time
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I’ll point… as I often do… to Spire: The City Must Fall by Rowan,Rook, & Decard.

The core rules are described early in the book. They use clear and concise language. Little attempt to be anything other than instructional.

Later in the book, when they describe the world of the game, they make much more of an attempt to evoke the feel of the setting. I wouldn’t say that they’re worried about the quality or cleverness of their prose so much as they are at inspiring readers to think of interesting things to use in play.

With the character classes… which are all very specific to the setting… they use both technical writing and creative writing, with the creative flavor text appearing in italics and the rules in standard text.

I appreciate them separating things in this way.

And although I find their world very interesting and, it’s far less about the presentation than it is the content. They have great ideas… they’re not trying to be clever about how those ideas are shared.

It’s far more important for a rules system to be clear and concise, I’d say.
 


mamba

Legend
Somewhere along the way people started imagining bland pamphlets without illustrations except for necessary schematics.
for me that was your below post

Let's us a simple example: fireball. Here's the SRD entry: Fireball – 5th Edition SRD

That is too wordy on its face. The lines giving range and stuff are fine, but why not an "Area: 20ft radius sphere" line and an "Effect: 8d6 fire damage" line? Then it is done.
it sounds like you want to remove everything but the mechanical description

For the record: concise and evocative are not mutually exclusive. Purple prose is not the only, or even best, way to evoke theme, mood and atmosphere.
I agree, I said as much in several posts since
 

Somewhere along the way people started imagining bland pamphlets without illustrations except for necessary schematics.

For the record: concise and evocative are not mutually exclusive. Purple prose is not the only, or even best, way to evoke theme, mood and atmosphere.
My laughter is at the first sentence because you're spot on with how most people are interpreting here.

I'll point out, however, that purple prose is not always actually purple and very often is simply another layer more complicated but sometimes still the best option to go with. Conciseness and writing-at-length aren't objectively better then the other, that's something I find only pure readers believe in, but instead they are both tools designed to illicit a huge spectrum of potential effects.
 

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