Should a low level character know to burn a troll?

Should a low level character know to burn a troll?

  • Yes

    Votes: 86 78.2%
  • No

    Votes: 24 21.8%

  • Total voters
    110
Do you know that fire should be used to stop a troll from regenerating and kill it irrevocably? You do? And yet you don't even have trolls living in your world. What gives you the gall to think that intelligent races that have been dealing with trolls and other supernatural-types for the whole of their cultures' existence don't have the same knowledge?
 

TheSword

Explorer
I see the issue. You are coming into this discussion with the presumption that a player should separate character knowledge from player knowledge and that to not do so is evidence that they are doing something they shouldn't just because they can (which is a good enough definition of immaturity for this discussion)

I'm saying that's not everyone's preferred playstyle. Since they don't prefer separating character knowledge from player knowledge then they shouldn't do so. Thus, those players aren't doing anything immature. They aren't doing something they shouldn't only because they can. They are in fact doing something they should!

You see the sticking point right?
Ahh I see the sticking point but it doesn’t need to be one. I don’t believe that using player only knowledge is good or bad. I make no value judgement on the right way to play or not.

I just think that not using your own knowledge requires restraint which itself requires a certain amount of maturity.

I also don’t think it’s the right way to play. It’s just my preference, particularly in a game where player only knowledge would spoil suspense or aesthetics.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Ahh I see the sticking point but it doesn’t need to be one. I don’t believe that using player only knowledge is good or bad. I make no value judgement on the right way to play or not.

I just think that not using your own knowledge requires restraint which itself requires a certain amount of maturity.

I also don’t think it’s the right way to play. It’s just my preference, particularly in a game where player only knowledge would spoil suspense or aesthetics.
You mean the suspense of wondering when you've pretended you don't know long enough and can finally use fire on the troll?
 

TheSword

Explorer
I need only to have met people who are immature and perfectly capable and willing to separate player and character knowledge, and the reverse, to objectively prove that it isn’t a matter of maturity. 🤷‍♂️
Well you could. Except whether a person is mature is a matter of opinion. If they can show enough restraint not to act on their knowledge because they recognize it hasn’t been ‘fairly’ early then I would probably say they are more mature than you give them credit for.
 

TheSword

Explorer
You mean the suspense of wondering when you've pretended you don't know long enough and can finally use fire on the troll?
Well the example I gave, was a Zombie Apocalypse like the Walking Dead. Where it is difficult to expect genuine fear from a character who would have seen zombie films.

I also gave Curse of Strahd as an example. It’s harder for level 1 players to show suspense if they have our knowledge of Vampires if in your world. And implausible if he is a unique creature in a different plane.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Well the example I gave, was a Zombie Apocalypse like the Walking Dead. Where it is difficult to expect genuine fear from a character who would have seen zombie films.

I also gave Curse of Strahd as an example. It’s harder for level 1 players to show suspense if they have our knowledge of Vampires if in your world. And implausible if he is a unique creature in a different plane.
This is lazy GMing, though. Instead of actually presenting something new, you're just defining known things as unknown things and demanding your players play along. I hardly think "let's humor the GM so he keeps running for us" is a strong hallmark of maturity. This certainly looks bad on the GM's side.
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
This is lazy GMing, though. Instead of actually presenting something new, you're just defining known things as unknown things and demanding your players play along. I hardly think "let's humor the GM so he keeps running for us" is a strong hallmark of maturity. This certainly looks bad on the GM's side.
Which is why I fallback onto The Angry GM to explain. The topic is a bit broader, but the concept applies. As a warning, salty (like salted cod levels) language.
 

ad_hoc

Adventurer
To the extent that this is an interesting question (and it is), and to the extent that it keeps popping up in threads (and it does, as an analogy), I think it helpfully illuminates three different styles of play.*

In the beginning, there was the idea of "skilled play." If you look back, you see that while players inhabited a role (proto-roleplaying), players were also assumed to have some skill at the game itself. That is why early modules featured puzzles and traps and riddles and so on that were meant to be solved by the players, not the PCs. And the different abilities of monsters were known (or not) by the players, not the PCs. This was so well-known that one of the earliest Dragon Magazines (before the Monster Manual!) mocks the problem and has a way for DMs to create random monsters!!!

Then we can discuss the concept of "role playing." People that were more interested in role playing became focused on the divide between the player and the PC. The player might know that a troll could be stopped by fire (having encountered one in the last campaign), but the PC might not. So the player would have to determine if the PC had that knowledge- did their history, background, intelligence, and so on, mean that they would know this? Would a noble-born Cleric know it? How about a peasant fighter recently released from the army?

Finally, there is the concept of "dice play." With the advent of later parts of 2e, and especially 3e on, their was an increased emphasis on the use of dice to resolve non-combat situations.** Here, instead of looking solely at skilled play (what the player knew) or the role play (what the PC knew), the player would determine if the PC knew that information the same way that the player would determine if the PC hit an opponent; by rolling. This made it worthwhile to invest in an applicable skill to know, um, stuff.
This is a great breakdown.

I'm between a #1 and a #2.

I'm really glad that 5e got away from 3e's #3.

I'm going to steal this to talk about the differences in philosophy if that's alright.
 

Cap'n Kobold

Explorer
You mean the suspense of wondering when you've pretended you don't know long enough and can finally use fire on the troll?
If that is where you draw the line, go for it! This is a game of pretend after all.
This is lazy GMing, though. Instead of actually presenting something new, you're just defining known things as unknown things and demanding your players play along.
Generally less "demanding" and often more "expecting" or even "asking" - for example if you know that one of the players has run this adventure for a different group before.
I hardly think "let's humor the GM so he keeps running for us" is a strong hallmark of maturity.
You're serious? I'd regard that as baseline good manners: The GM is part of the group just as much as the players, and likely a friend as well. "Humouring them", and ensuring they have fun (or if you can't manage that then at least not actively spoiling their, and the rest of the group's fun) is probably the least to aim for.
This certainly looks bad on the GM's side.
Sometimes you don't want to ask a player to sit out of the group for a year or so because they know the campaign, but can't spare the out of game time for a full rewrite for example.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
If that is where you draw the line, go for it! This is a game of pretend after all.
Generally less "demanding" and often more "expecting" or even "asking" - for example if you know that one of the players has run this adventure for a different group before.
You're serious? I'd regard that as baseline good manners: The GM is part of the group just as much as the players, and likely a friend as well. "Humouring them", and ensuring they have fun (or if you can't manage that then at least not actively spoiling their, and the rest of the group's fun) is probably the least to aim for.
Sometimes you don't want to ask a player to sit out of the group for a year or so because they know the campaign, but can't spare the out of game time for a full rewrite for example.
Cases where some players have information and are being asked to keep a lid on it for the benefit of the others are an entirely different situation and question. It’s not what’s being discussed here.
 

TheSword

Explorer
This is lazy GMing, though. Instead of actually presenting something new, you're just defining known things as unknown things and demanding your players play along. I hardly think "let's humor the GM so he keeps running for us" is a strong hallmark of maturity. This certainly looks bad on the GM's side.
It’s called a temporary suspension of disbelief. I actively set aside some expectations and go into the experience acting as a person who doesn’t know something. That’s allows the DM to confront me with situations that resonate with classic tropes and I then consider and behave in a way that I believe my character would act based on their experience.

To make it work the DM has to actually work harder because they...

A/ have a responsibility to provide clues and information that enables you to overcome these difficulties.

B/ have to present such a convincing world that it’s worth your while working a little harder to act out the part.

I don’t believe it is lazy DMing.
 

Cap'n Kobold

Explorer
Cases where some players have information and are being asked to keep a lid on it for the benefit of the others are an entirely different situation and question. It’s not what’s being discussed here.
I think that different people tend to draw the line in different places.

For example I think that practically everyone who has taken part in the poll knows that both fire and acid prevent a troll from regenerating, and many of them think that even fledgling adventurers would know to use fire on a troll.

However I think that considerably less would judge that the fact that acid works as well would be as common knowledge as using fire. Despite they themselves know it would work just as well as fire, many might decide that their characters would not know about acid working as well unless they were alchemically inclined, because fire is considerably more available to the average person.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Well you could. Except whether a person is mature is a matter of opinion. If they can show enough restraint not to act on their knowledge because they recognize it hasn’t been ‘fairly’ early then I would probably say they are more mature than you give them credit for.
I mean, you can create any unbeatable argument you want if you first invent all the definitions of terms. 🤷‍♂️
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
It’s called a temporary suspension of disbelief. I actively set aside some expectations and go into the experience acting as a person who doesn’t know something.
That's... not what temporary suspension of disbelief is. Temporary suspension of disbelief is what lets you pretend that a troll exists in the first place. It's not you deciding to ignore things you know, it's pretending things that you know don't or can't exist do, for a short time, to enjoy the fiction.

That’s allows the DM to confront me with situations that resonate with classic tropes and I then consider and behave in a way that I believe my character would act based on their experience.
I guarantee you that I can present classic tropes without requiring my players to pretend they don't know things. This is a bogus claim -- there are other ways. I say it's lazy DMing because you're just relying on the monster's gimmick being hidden, or forcing players to pretend it's hidden, to create the tension in the scene. I'm saying you should value your players a bit more and do a tad more work. It's not much harder at all:

If you want a fun encounter where players can know about trolls, then set it underwater. Or, have the troll know about itself, and cover itself in armor of wet leaves and mud so that it's immune to fire for X damage. This both prevents requiring players to have to pretend to be dumb, and take actions they know will just harm their characters, all to provide the DM the vicarious thrill of using the monster's gimmick.

To make it work the DM has to actually work harder because they...

A/ have a responsibility to provide clues and information that enables you to overcome these difficulties.

B/ have to present such a convincing world that it’s worth your while working a little harder to act out the part.

I don’t believe it is lazy DMing.
Oh, goodness -- this is what every DM is required to do whether they require players to pretend ignorance of monster gimmicks or if they don't. You can't claim credit for more work for just doing the basic parts of the job.

You're putting the onus of making the encounter work on the players. You're doing this by using a gimmick to make the encounter interesting but requiring the players to pretend they don't know the gimmick so you can use it again. That's lazy. The onus of making the encounter work is on the DM. Do the work. A good start would be to ask yourself, with any encounter, "if I hand the players this statblock, is this encounter still fun?" If the answer is no, you have more work to do.
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
I try to get these things out of the way as soon as possible, so me and my players do not have to play this silly game of "does my character know what I know as a player?".

When I had my players fight ghosts, I described to them how they could see a ghost fighting with a city guard. I told them that they could clearly see the guard's blade pass through the ghost most of the time, while the ghost was able to hit the guard with relative ease, as ghostly green flames danced across the blade that the ghost was wielding.

So not only did I inform the pc's how fighting a ghost works, but I also let them know that the ghosts were wielding ghost-touch weapons. With that out of the way, we could now focus on the actual encounter.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
There's no definitive yes or no. It depends on the campaign and how common trolls are and where PCs are from. From an area where trolls are reasonably common? Yep, you'd know even if you're a low level PC.
 

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