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Things I don't like about the 4E DMG - part 1 of 1000

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gizmo33

First Post
Eliminating one option is not railroading; there could still be dozens of ways for the PCs to go.

The DM is not eliminating an option - he's eliminating a result. Obviously, and logically, if another ritual, other action, or even series of actions produces the same results in a way that was not conceived of by the DMs "plans", the DM is within his "rights" to nerf the idea. And to do so with some pretty heinous dishonesty.

The reason I find the dishonesty so unpalatable is that it violates one of the key jobs I see the DM as having - and that is he's got to have the trust of the players that when he makes a ruling in the game. When you tell the players what you're doing they should believe that you're telling them the truth. Because you should be.

The context of this IMO pretty much contradicts what you're saying in a key point- and that is that there aren't "dozens" of ways to go. There is one way - a way that keeps the "plans" of the DM intact. The train might jiggle back and forth on the railroad but it's going to stay on the tracks.
 

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i agree with Rel, with one caveat:

Using a 'Locate Person' isn't a brilliant idea. If there is one thing I have come to hate, it is the 'solving the plot by thumbing through the Spell Compendium and buying a scroll' method.

I pretty much agree with everything the OP said, but not in the way he said it. It's important to remember that we are a community here , and try not to mix well-founded criticism with personal attacks.

Ken

Man this thread is choc FULL of moderators! Evildoers beware!

I think that the 4e DMG is one of the best official D&D books I've ever read. But that's a pretty crappy piece of DM advice in my opinion.

I say that if the players muck up your plans with their brilliant ideas then let those plans fail. Let them fail GLORIOUSLY. Let the players surprise and kill that BBEG while he's got his pants down. They earned it. It will make them think you're a fair DM. It will make them feel good about the attention they pay and creativity they invest in your game. And it will allow them to forgive you for the times that you throw them up against impossible odds.
 

catsclaw227

First Post
So I think it's safe to say that most people disagree with the sentiment that you can't tell the players that they incorrectly used a ritual just because the DM wasn't preparted for it and it would derail the campaign. This, I think is understood.

[EDIT: Though, the spirit of the advice, when taken in context with the whole section as Hussar pointed out, isn't that bad. Just that one line was bad. Kinda like the one line about James Wyatt in the OP.]

I also think it's safe to say that for experienced DMs, most have at one time or another "hid" the positive or negative results of a spell/die roll/ability a player used because it would have screwed the advenuture or thrown it into a realm where we weren't prepared to handle it. Good or bad, it happens, and sometimes it gets covered up.

I will agree that the one statement about Wyatt became the focus of some of us defending 4e/DMG/designer. Looking at it with a clear head, though, I can see how it happens.

I see a thread with a title that I can sense will say something damaging about my beloved edition/book/designer, and I tense up.... I read the post, and even though I am tense, the OP is presenting a good point, then POW... the one sentence to rule them all.... And the original point gets fuzzy as I now have to filter my own defensive instincts, filter out what might be a bias by the OP, then I read post after post and either I get hotter or I cool off. Dang internet message boards...

One piece of advice, maybe choose a title that won't people wind up before they read the thread. A title called "Things I don't like about the 4E DMG - part 1 of 1000" runs through my faulty internet filter and it tells me that you hate the new DMG 1000 times over, and this was going to be a vitriol spew of Exorcist-pea-soup-vomit proportions.

And I couldn't wait to read it and fire a volley of my own. And maybe others as well....

We react. :) Dang internet message boards.... :D
 

Imaro

Legend
Whenever I read critiques like Gizmo's, I've learned that it is absolutely imperative to go back to the source material. So often people reacted to what someone else said about what WOTC said during the run up to 4e that we now have this massively persistent meme that WOTC was constantly bashing 3e. Yet, when asked for examples, suddenly, all the examples have apparently vanished.

This is a good example of this.

Let's look at the entire section shall we?



So, basically, he's saying, "Do your homework when designing your adventures. But, if you screw up, and it's going to short circuit your entire adventure, nerf the ritual rather than chucking out your entire adventure."

Is this really so bad? Sure the best solution would be to think on your feet and come up with new stuff on the fly. That would be best. But, some of us are not quite so nimble. So, do we finish the adventure in 15 minutes, then pack it in for the week? Or do we be a bit of a RBDM and nerf the ritual? Not for all time, just for this one time.

Yup, the DM screwed up. He left a great gaping hole in his plans. But, given the choice between an utterly unsatisfying night of gaming or a speed bump of nerfing a ritual, which is the better choice?

I do think it's "really so bad?", why? Because the DM/Player relationship is based on trust. Players need to trust a DM to make fair rulings and decisions... while the DM needs to be able to trust his players to play by the rules and be honest... it's when one side decides to abuse that trust (whether it's the OP's example or a player who calls out false numbers for his rolls) that bad feelings, loss of trust and even an unenjoyable experience can arise.

As a player, if I invest in an ability, feat, ritual, skill, etc. for my character... well I am trusting the DM to adjudicate my use of said ability, feat, etc. fairly and impartially... If the DM doesn't do this...then that trust is broken and suddenly I want to know the reason for every decision he makes against me, or that I don't agree with now.

My other point is with the ease which many have claimed to create on the fly things (monsters, skill challenges, encounters,etc.) with 4e...why does this have to lead to an "utterly unsatisfying night of gaming..." Wouldn't it have been better to devote some page space to improvising in this situation or, if that's not an option, how to talk to and explain the situation to his players, being open and honest about what's going on...rather than blaming it on the player and lying about it.

END NOTE: How does your quoting of the entire passage in any way discredit what he OP is talking about, I'm missing how it actually changes anything.
 

catsclaw227

First Post
Imaro -- What if the text from the DMG had said something like this (my change in yellow):

While you're disseminating information, think about how rituals might give some advantage to the PC's. Divination and scrying rituals can allow characters, especially epic-level characters, to bypass obstacles to information as easily as they can bypass physical obstacles at those levels. Design your adventures accordingly, paying careful attention to the ritual descriptions in the PHB. Don't give the characters less than they're entitled to, but don't let them short circuit your whole adventure by using rituals either. For instance, the Observe Creature ritual creates a sensor that can be noticed by another. If allowing the ritual to succeed would throw a monkey wrench into your plans for the adventure, you'd be within your rights to rule that maybe the target, or someone with them, noticed the sensor right away. The ritual located the intended target, but the sensor was noticed and in the short time (1-5 rounds) that you get to view the target, the sensor was destroyed. Because this is a very high level ritual, though, you may want to give the caster some partial information that could be helpful. Also remember that high level villains have access to the same rituals that the characters do, including wards they can use to protect themselves from scrying attempts.

Would this be better? [Ignore any grammatical issues, it was off the cuff without an editor. :) ]

I wonder if this is closer to the intent of the advice.
 


Raven Crowking

First Post
Imaro -- What if the text from the DMG had said something like this (my change in yellow):

Would this be better? [Ignore any grammatical issues, it was off the cuff without an editor. :) ]

I wonder if this is closer to the intent of the advice.

I would say No.

IMHO, the DM should not be planning out how the encounter will go so stringently that the PCs cannot take actions within their means and powers. If a PC has the ability to X, the PC should get to X, no matter what that does to the DM's expected encounter.

It should be remembered that the adventure is viewed in fundamentally different ways by DM and players. The DM is imagining settings, scenes, characters, and interactions. The players are trying to figure out what's going on, trying to size up the opposition, and trying to use their resources to take out/avoid that opposition with minimal loss on their part.

Advice that the DM should cheat, specifically so that his vision of the adventure trumps the way that the players are trying to use their resources wisely, is distasteful IMHO.

If you don't want the PCs to rely on the ritual, ban it, or add potential problems/costs in an upfront way. If the PCs decide to pay the costs/deal with the problems, they deserve to gain the benefits thereof, and to hell with the way the DM wanted the scenario to go.

YMMV, but I cannot think of any example where I would expect the DM to do otherwise, regardless of what side of the screen I was on.


RC
 

catsclaw227

First Post
So, Derren and Raven Crowking, do either of you believe that the DM should ever fudge dice in the favor of the players? Or fudge dice at all?

Or is your preferred DM-style roll-in-front, let the dice fall where they may? Not that either is better or worse, just different.

I believe my players trust me. If I had the outcome of a scry altered because it would benefit the game or add to the depth of the story, the players wouldn't mind. Nor would they feel cheated.

One other question, have either of you ever modified the effects of the players' actions to move the story forward (or add to the narrative tension, or direct them down a path, or for any reason?)
 

Dinkeldog

Sniper o' the Shrouds
I was really put off by the OP's title and his approach to starting the thread, but at the heart of the complaint I agree.

Now, I have to admit his approach was effective and ingenious. If he had stated calmly that the section he quoted seemed like bad advice for cutting out the players' legs - most would have passed the thread by.

I think the OP has a future in call-in radio!

Maybe there should be a section in DMG2 for "Rat Bastardry 101". Keep in mind that the DMG is pretty much set for beginning DMs. The advice there is don't let the players ruin the game for themselves. How you choose to do it is up to you, but this is basically how I operate--if scrying will destroy a complete adventure or campaign, then I'll throw something in the way or otherwise show them something really misleading.

But...I've been DMing for over 30 years. If you're talking about a new DM, sometimes it doesn't hurt to say, "You can't plan for everything, don't let simple solutions solve complex problems." In math tutoring speech, consider the highest number problems on the SAT--if the answer is too obvious or easy, it's almost certainly wrong.
 
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This may be the root of the issue

I never fudge dice, at all. I have had multiple campaigns end with TPKs, and my players have been fine with that, because they view it as making their successes more satisfying.

But I recognize that there is a camp of D&D players who believe in fudging the dice to give a campaign a desired outcome, because they believe that it makes the game more fun for them and the players.

The problem I have with the 4E quote is partially that the DMG is taking an explicit stand and endorsing the latter method of play, according to the personal preferences of the designers. I am not really surprised; it's in keeping with the move against simulationism that has been present in a lot of 4E.

Ken


So, Derren and Raven Crowking, do either of you believe that the DM should ever fudge dice in the favor of the players? Or fudge dice at all?

Or is your preferred DM-style roll-in-front, let the dice fall where they may? Not that either is better or worse, just different.

I believe my players trust me. If I had the outcome of a scry altered because it would benefit the game or add to the depth of the story, the players wouldn't mind. Nor would they feel cheated.

One other question, have either of you ever modified the effects of the players' actions to move the story forward (or add to the narrative tension, or direct them down a path, or for any reason?)
 

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