... now with 35% more arrogance!
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Playing the Game Wrong
Lord Gwydion posted the other day about clerical healing and how it has become increasingly important in each subsequent edition. I found it interesting because I've seen at least one forum discussion in the last couple days about that perennial complaint: "No one wants to be a cleric because they're expected to do all the healing. It's such a burden!"
It made me think about the weird synergy going on between multiple game assumptions. For many players of newer versions of D&D, it's all about the combat. That means more damage. So they clamored for more healing capability, which designers of new editions promptly increased. But for the same group of players, it's also all about small parties, so the idea of henchmen and mercenaries fell out of favor.
Now, if PCs need lots of healing and no one wants to play a healer themselves, it would make sense to hire healers. But apparently they are too proud, or something, and don't want to do that? So, logically, they should cut back on the 100% combat all the time approach, to decrease damage. But they don't want to do that, either. So this group instead whines about how they need healers, but no one wants to play one. They have conflicting desires, and no intention of doing anything about it.
There's a faction of players of newer editions who thinks the OSR is "telling people they are playing the game wrong". I haven't really seen that, but there definitely is a way to play D&D (or any RPG) wrong: picking a version or adding house rules that causes certain things you don't like to happen, then refusing to do anything about it except whine about how you don't enjoy the result. If a game or a house rule isn't any fun, either drop it or change it. If you won't do either, but you aren't having fun, you are playing the game wrong. Or playing the wrong game.
That seems like an unavoidable conclusion, to me.
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"But they don't want to do that, either. So this group instead whines about how they need healers, but no one wants to play one."ReplyDelete
I suppose that's what 4E "healing surges" was supposed to adress...
From what I've read about them, that seems to be the case. De-emphasize the role of the cleric in healing, while increasing the amount of healing available. Which seems to satisfy some people. But apparently, there are still whiners.Delete
I still don't see why they can't just hire a healer. The published material may have downplayed henchmen and hirelings in newer editions, but they aren't *forbidden* by the rules, are they?
There are retainer rules in the 4E DMG 2. It is actually a good subsystem, sort of being a "lite" version of 4E. I forget the details though. If I ever ran 4E again, I would be tempted to take a look at it again and maybe use it for PCs too.Delete
I think it's more of a culture thing. Some people have bad memories about characters with lots of pets, retainers, or other minion types that end up taking forever to take a single combat turn.
"picking a version or adding house rules that causes certain things you don't like to happen, then refusing to do anything about it except whine about how you don't enjoy the result."ReplyDelete
Pretty much nailed it.
Exactly. Too much of D&D is the result of fixing "problems" in the rules and in character design options that could otherwise be addressed in scenario design and/or player tactics.ReplyDelete
You know, I don't think I've ever read a post about houseruling the newer additions. Do people do it? I wonder if the bind their in is partially because they see the game as whatever rules the company sells you, and not as something you can tinker with.ReplyDelete
I'm pretty sure I've seen people talk about starting a special campaign, with rules changes. I know I've seen people saying they don't play newer editions because it has Rule X or lacks Rule Y, and someone has responded "you can change the game." That might not be evidence that anyone changes 4e, but I'm willing to say that happens.Delete
What I do suspect, though, is that the people who complain ineffectually are not house rulers. Or perhaps, GMs of newer editions never complain, but people who don't like to GM complain, because they feel they can't take charge of their own fun.
I'm sure people do houserule the newer editions. But when I do visit forums dedicated the newer editions, I see lots of discussion of how to exploit the rules (creating perfect builds, stringing chains of effects together, etc.). Allowing, even celebrating rules exploits (that don't make sense in the game world, anyway) is a sign that the rules are, to some degree, seen as concrete. A similar discussion in an old school forum would either rationalise the exploit in game, or suggest houserules to mitigate the effect.Delete
I ran 3.5 for a while, and we found we had to houserule it from the get-go. It wasn't bad, honestly, though eventually we figured out that it was better for modeling grungy modern games, so we switched to True20 (essentially a bunch of houserules to stremline d20) for those games and went back to earlier editions for our fantasy sessions.Delete
The only times I've ever seen any tabletop game run without houserules was in the college gaming club situation - a lot of neckbeards getting together, none of whom know any of the others, more interested in what toppings they'll get on the communal pizza than in getting invested in the game.
Andy: The people who post about exploits, though, do seem to at least enjoy the game, so maybe that's a good reason not to house rule?Delete
RMDC: That's pretty much what I expected about 3e. I see lots of 3e threads that seem to be all about changing it for this or that purpose. Which just makes the Perpetual Whiners seem all the more odd.
I house-ruled 4E heavily when I played it:Delete
4E got me back into RPGs after a 10+ year hiatus, and I was playing it before I discovered the OSR. Maybe I'm not the best example though?
See also the "Fourthcore" subculture (highly lethal Fourth Edition, though it tends to focus on obstacle course type dungeons).
It would also be reasonable to argue that the official "Lair Assault" games are a form of house-ruled 4E, as is the Essentials line (though both of those originated with the company, not as DIY).
I should say, in the interests of balance, that one of the things that I remember about 1980s Dragon magazines was the column in which people would ask questions about rule exploits in TSR A/D&D. As I remember it, often this would be framed as a player asking for TSR to overrule his DM and allow him to use the loophole he had found scouring the rulebooks, or a DM asking for backing to forbid game-breaking combinations of magic items, spells, and class abilities that his players were clamouring to use.Delete
Brendan: Don't know whether you're the best example, but at least the information you provided confirms that people do, indeed, modify 4e. So we're really just talking about a specific kind of person who refuses to modify whatever game they are stuck playing.Delete
Andy: That's one reason I suspect that the older whiners who play 4e were originally whiners who played 3e, and before that whiners who played 2e, 1e, oe (if old enough) 0e. I suggested on G+ that basically most of the whiners have been the same people, across multiple editions. They have always played whatever the most recent edition is, and they have always whined. They are never satisfied.
Also, there's nothing in newer editions that prevents a party without a healer from retreating to rest and recuperate, but many younger players who grew up on those editions that I've played with (and some older players who have decided on a newer edition as their game of choice) seem to feel that it's anathema to fun.ReplyDelete
I can understand the desire to run a game like an action movie or video game, where the heroes press on from beginning to end against the bad guys. It can be fun. But it's not the only way to have fun.
Anyway, thanks for the link, Talysman.
I've. Never thought playing a cleric was a burden:you can heal others, have fair combat odds, and can zap oodles of undead. Everyone needs your PC? ... use the power that gives you.ReplyDelete
Re: Hireling healers. I've been recommending Evan's post below to anyone who will listen, but if you can find a healer willing to go on a dungeon delve, you really ought to be asking the question, 'what the hell is wrong with this guy?'ReplyDelete
The answer will only make the game more fun!
Rules that Make Stuff Happen, like Evan's table, are a good idea. Which actually kind of gives me an idea related to the post about leeches...Delete