D&D 5E Thievery in 5e - still relevant?

pemerton

Legend
Very cute. I explained my position above (a post to which you didn't respond, I notice). Fun and verisimilitude are orthogonal.
Because fun in every single moment of play isn't realistic, and because doing unfun things can lead to more fun things in the future?
I'm missing the orthogonality here.

Sometimes you have to do unfun things to get to the fun you want, and sometimes what one person sees as unfun isn't for another.
The latter is obviously true.

As to the former: the unfun things I do to have fun later are ones I try and confine to pre-play prep (eg printing out documents that I need). There can be unfun things during play - having to double-check rules, for instance - but those are a cost rather than a benefit!
 

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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I'm missing the orthogonality here.

The latter is obviously true.

As to the former: the unfun things I do to have fun later are ones I try and confine to pre-play prep (eg printing out documents that I need). There can be unfun things during play - having to double-check rules, for instance - but those are a cost rather than a benefit!
In general, fun and verisimilitude are orthogonal. In any particular case (me, for example) they might not be. People find fun in different things. For example, at this point you have extensively explained your preferences and style of play, so I can say with some confidence that I would not enjoy the same games you do.

Different brains, and all that.
 


Just "Thievery" gives us a good example of the Always Fun game vs the Anything Goes Game: Getting caught,

A character tries to break into a place....the guards are altered....and:

In the modern game there is often no even a hint of the idea a character will ever be caught. Getting caught is no fun, and anything no fun simply does not happen. Lots of modern games will have this in the rules: to get away, the player just has to make an easy "Escape Check" and the GM will describe a great framing escape scene. Though even without such rules the GM will just make the game flow so the character escapes. And on the very, very, very rare times when a character might be caught....the GM will have to formally ask the player for official permission from the player to capture their character.

In the classic game....well, commit a crime and do the time. The chance of a character getting caught and captured is always high. There are no easy escapes here. The gameflow here will be directed towards a hard, even brutal, capture of the character. A mailed fist to the head or a paralyzing magic...and the character wakes up in just a smock, loose all their stuff, and is chained to a wall in a dungeon. And most players don't think this is "fun", they can accept it as a consequence of a character committing a crime.

And a modern thinking player in a classic game where their character gets caught will likely just walk out of the game as the game is over in their mind.

The classic thinking player in the classic game, can't wait for the chance to role play and try to escape.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Just "Thievery" gives us a good example of the Always Fun game vs the Anything Goes Game: Getting caught,

A character tries to break into a place....the guards are altered....and:

In the modern game there is often no even a hint of the idea a character will ever be caught. Getting caught is no fun

<snip>

The classic thinking player in the classic game, can't wait for the chance to role play and try to escape.
D&D doesn't generally have very good resolution processes for escaping capture or imprisonment. 4e can be an exception, via skill challenges.
 

Are people under the impression 2E gave you good use for gold anymore than 5E? 1E, sure, because of XP for gold. 3E, sure because of magic item crafting expenses.... 2E didn't. But people found uses for it.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
No, 2e was pretty terrible about giving you a reason to really want to accumulate treasure after awhile. The fact that I never really noticed this is a combination of good DM's giving me reasons to want to have gold to spend, and DM's wanting to keep me miserably poor at all costs, lol.

For most characters, you had the simple loop of: buy necessary equipment > buy the best armor > buy a horse and maybe a cart, plus the necessary tack, barding, feed, what have you. Then maybe start sniffing around for high quality equipment (if being used in the campaign). Then almost invariably, once you had gold in the thousands, you started asking if it were possible to purchase potions or maybe even minor magic items.

Not only was the existence of magic shops rarely contested in my experience (I mean heck, in the TSR era, there were some actually canonical ones, like Chemcheaux, an extradimensional magic item chain, and of course, a cutter can always find what they need at Sigil, if they have the jink).

Granted, that's personal experience, and it's no surprise that once hordes of D&D players were using the internet, suddenly people railing about "Ye Olde Magic Item Shoppes" showed up on my radar (at the same time as the first edition of the game to make magic items standard, of course).

Even now, I'm a bit torn on the 3e-4e approach. I feel that magic items are a part of D&D, and it's good for their to be guidelines for what players can expect to have access to as opposed to not, but by the same token, magic items became less special- not for their quantity; I've played in some Forgotten Realms campaigns where you were soon dripping in magic items, but for their uniqueness. WotC decided that multifunction items should cost an arm and a leg (only relenting somewhat when the published a book on magic items later in the edition's lifespan), which meant that Rods of Lordly Might and Staves of Power were grossly overpriced to the point that you'd rather sell them (if possible) to get Greatswords +4 and Cloaks of Protection +3.

Thus there was suddenly a downside to magic item economy, and especially crafting. All the infinite money exploits inherent in the magic system went from being "cute, but not really relevant" to suddenly game breaking! And this led to the downfall of thievery, I feel, as suddenly, the DM was cautioned to absolutely not ever let players exceed the wealth by level guidelines, for fear of their game imploding!

If you can't be any more successful as a thief than as an adventurer, why be a thief?
 

No, 2e was pretty terrible about giving you a reason to really want to accumulate treasure after awhile. The fact that I never really noticed this is a combination of good DM's giving me reasons to want to have gold to spend, and DM's wanting to keep me miserably poor at all costs, lol.

For most characters, you had the simple loop of: buy necessary equipment > buy the best armor > buy a horse and maybe a cart, plus the necessary tack, barding, feed, what have you. Then maybe start sniffing around for high quality equipment (if being used in the campaign). Then almost invariably, once you had gold in the thousands, you started asking if it were possible to purchase potions or maybe even minor magic items.

Not only was the existence of magic shops rarely contested in my experience (I mean heck, in the TSR era, there were some actually canonical ones, like Chemcheaux, an extradimensional magic item chain, and of course, a cutter can always find what they need at Sigil, if they have the jink).

Granted, that's personal experience, and it's no surprise that once hordes of D&D players were using the internet, suddenly people railing about "Ye Olde Magic Item Shoppes" showed up on my radar (at the same time as the first edition of the game to make magic items standard, of course).

Even now, I'm a bit torn on the 3e-4e approach. I feel that magic items are a part of D&D, and it's good for their to be guidelines for what players can expect to have access to as opposed to not, but by the same token, magic items became less special- not for their quantity; I've played in some Forgotten Realms campaigns where you were soon dripping in magic items, but for their uniqueness. WotC decided that multifunction items should cost an arm and a leg (only relenting somewhat when the published a book on magic items later in the edition's lifespan), which meant that Rods of Lordly Might and Staves of Power were grossly overpriced to the point that you'd rather sell them (if possible) to get Greatswords +4 and Cloaks of Protection +3.

Thus there was suddenly a downside to magic item economy, and especially crafting. All the infinite money exploits inherent in the magic system went from being "cute, but not really relevant" to suddenly game breaking! And this led to the downfall of thievery, I feel, as suddenly, the DM was cautioned to absolutely not ever let players exceed the wealth by level guidelines, for fear of their game imploding!

If you can't be any more successful as a thief than as an adventurer, why be a thief?
All good points, and part of the problem is that real use for currency in our own world (property, security and safety) doesn't appeal to a lot of players. Plenty of characters seem content to basically live what would be a rather unpleasant vagabond lifestyle despite being laden with precious coins and jewels.
 


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