WotC's Adam Lee discusses cinematic flair in a new Behind the Screens

An interesting read. And his 'cinematic' mode has a lot in common with the Firefly RPG's "taken out" mechanic (which means you're out of the scene; not dead), which is definitely appropriate to that game.

And yet...

At the beginning of my DM career, I noticed that some players got a sad face when their characters died, or that other players checked out and began fiddling with other stuff in the middle of the game. What did those players want that I wasn’t giving them? Sad faces and a lack of engagement are anathema to a DM. But from those two reactions came my two modes of D&D play.

Interesting that he then goes on to use the "Lord of the Rings" films as his 'cinematic' example - it's hard to argue that those movies would have been better had Boromir not died.
 

neobolts

Explorer
The back-to-basics series on how to DM continues here with a short entry on balancing the cinematic with a more natural realism. It's presented in a binary fashion, but introduces the whole balancing act of creating a sense of peril within the game. "Among many other things, D&D is a creative balance between DM and players. After running a number of games, I found that I began to think about what kind of experience my players really want. That process influenced my actions as a DM, and has inspired me to come up with two rough modes for running games, which can help make the overall experience for my players a good one. If you’re a new DM, these modes might help you deliver that fun player experience that all DMs crave."
 

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David Fair

Villager
Interesting that he then goes on to use the "Lord of the Rings" films as his 'cinematic' example - it's hard to argue that those movies would have been better had Boromir not died.

I submit that Boromir is not a PC. He, like all the non-hobbits in the books/movies, is a GM-controlled NPC. The only PC's are Merry, Pippin, Sam and Frodo.
 

delericho

Legend
I submit that Boromir is not a PC. He, like all the non-hobbits in the books/movies, is a GM-controlled NPC. The only PC's are Merry, Pippin, Sam and Frodo.

But that can't be true!

More seriously, I disagree. Given the amount of time the book spends following Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli even in the absence of any of the hobbits, those three at least would be considered PCs. And if those three, then why not Boromir, other than that he happens to die?
 

David Fair

Villager
Given the amount of time the book spends following Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli even in the absence of any of the hobbits, those three at least would be considered PCs. And if those three, then why not Boromir, other than that he happens to die?

The DM in this game simply loves to narrate entire sessions while his bored PCs wonder when they will get to play.

PS. I was only half-serious. ;)
 

Iosue

Legend
There's sad and then there's sad. I can't speak for Adam Lee, but when I've run games in that "cinematic mode" there are times when a death would be sad and meaningless, but sometimes a death comes that feels sad and awesome. Frodo getting critted by a troll? Eh, that's a little random, so "Mithril shirt! He's okay!" Gandalf and the Balrog roll simultaneous initiative and knock each other off the Bridge of Khazad-dum while the others escape? I'll let that stand. (Oh, looks like the player's making a new character that's basically the same as the old character, only now he's calling him "Gandalf the White." Typical.)
 

David Fair

Villager
(Oh, looks like the player's making a new character that's basically the same as the old character, only now he's calling him "Gandalf the White." Typical.)

If Boromir is a PC, the Boromir's player did the same thing, but named him Faramir instead.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
That cinematic mode is basically just what GMs have been doing since they were kids - fudging PC death. The "knocked out and captured" scenario must be the single most often used PC-death-fudge (sounds delicious!) in the last 40 years.

Useful for new DMs though, I imagine, if that didn't occur to them.
 

smiteworks

Explorer
That is one thing I always loved about Deadlands. If the players get killed, they return as undead gunslingers, magicians or whatever they were in life -- but with an evil hitch-hiker inside their head for the ride.
 

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