"Why does a player care about this?"

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"Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Big Mac » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:33 pm

This is the question that Mike Mearls recently asked on Twitter:
Mike Mearls on Twitter wrote:The only question in game design that really matters is, “Why does a player care about this?” Yet, it’s something I rarely see designers bring up. Most RPGs never answer it.
He then continued in a series of Tweets that focused on 5th Edition's design style (compared to 3e and 4e):
Mike Mearls on Twitter wrote:D&D 5 aims to make you care about your character as something that is your personal creation, and the ties between your creation and everyone else’s (DM or player).

Probably the biggest shift from 5 and both 3 and 4 - we stopped caring about consistency from table to table. That ran counter to what we saw as the fundamental strength of tabletop roleplay vs. MMOs.

3 and 4 used a TCG design pattern and wanted you to care about your character as a bundle of mechanics that you designed and tested, much like a TCG player might have a favorite deck. It’s a change I haven’t seen many people talk about, but to me it defines the game.

I don’t think a game ever needs to be explicit about this stuff. It would be like a novelist describing a thing as foreshadowing, or underlining every word that drives home a theme, but a designer needs to know it.

In practical terms, it’s why having a strong, clear, compelling vision is important. That’s probably been the biggest thing I’ve learned in the past few years.
Mike was talking about rules design there, but how do you think this works when it comes down to the games you run at home?

Do you find it easier to get players to care about some things, rather than other things?

What do you think are the most engaging things you have seen in D&D (any edition/any setting)? Why do you think those things have connected with players?
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by shesheyan » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:53 pm

Regardless of editions players can't be bundled in a single group. I've cared about my character enough to write fluffy backgrounds when it wasn't required and no rules were supplied for this. Over the same period of time over the years I've seen players write backgrounds in a way to give their character mechanical advantages in game.

Its a good thing that 5e offers rules for backgrounds but in the end the player decides if he is going to use it as intended and care about the character or if its all just a mathematical creation devoid of soul.

The one thing 5e does is allow the creation of instant relations between characters and backgrounds at the table without the need of a session 0. Imho its a great addition for those who are new to role-play. It tells them these things are important in TTRPGs and characters are not just a set of characteristics to be optimized as in a wargame/conputer game.

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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Big Mac » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:58 pm

I think for me, if there is anywhere where RPGs (and D&D specifically) are going wrong, it is the Edition Treadmill logic of telling people how amazing rules are.

D&D is pitched as a system. And I see people saying it is a better system than other systems. And I also see people saying that other systems are better than D&D. And I see people claiming that one edition of D&D or another is better.

But ultimately, it's all maths. Designers are telling me that one equation is better than another equation. You can wrap it up in a bunch of fancy terms, but what is a Base Attack Bonus or THAC0 other than a mathematical progression that gives you a set of probabilities of outcome.

And that is the part of D&D that I don't care about. That is the part of D&D where I have to learn a bunch of stuff in order to play.

That's not to say that I don't like any of the elements of 5e. The Advantage and Disadvantage mechanics are interesting, but when it comes down to it, they are really just more maths to give players three different sets of probabilities to work with.

For me it's the lore that underpins rules that I am interested in. And I am especially interested in campaign settings, as they come complete with mythology that puts a lot of the monsters...and the rules that support them...into context.

Give me a monster with an ecology and a monster that relates to fantasy cultures within a game world and it stops being a Challange Raiting a number of HD and a bunch of XP and treasure and starts being a threat to NPCs that I care about.

In character history and legends give me the context that makes me care about elements within the game.

Ultimately the reason I want to see 5th Edition bring out a Spelljammer book is that there are a collection of cool Spelljammer hooks that never got used to best effect and I want to see someone revive and expand those ideas.
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by GMWestermeyer » Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:12 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:58 pm
Ultimately the reason I want to see 5th Edition bring out a Spelljammer book is that there are a collection of cool Spelljammer hooks that never got used to best effect and I want to see someone revive and expand those ideas.
That's precisely why I do NOT want them to touch Spelljammer. Ignoring the rules, I have not seen a single plot line since 2e that I consider remotely interesting or reasonable.

Hasbro's Wizard just do not produce fantasy stories that I consider compelling any more. They no longer produce worlds I want to live in.

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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Zeromaru X » Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:01 pm

Figures he would say something like this. He needs to sell 5e, so he will say 5e is the greatest thing since sliced bread. They will say the same about 6e in the future.

I'm with Shesheyan here. I believe its not wise to lump all people within certain groups just because we like certain sets of rules, that are irrelevant when creating characters. Personally, I don't see how 5e automatically makes my character something I hold dear. I actually feel 5e characters bland when I compare them with my characters from earlier editions, thought perhaps this is because I lack experience with those rules.

I guess that one cares about stuff one likes, so someone who likes 5e, will care for their 5e PCs, while someone who likes 3.5 will care for their 3.5 PCs and disregard the ones from 5e. Its something personal, and has nothing to do with rules.

In my experience, I really care for my 4e characters and stories, not only mechanically, but also for the sentimental value they have for me. Something impossible according the logic of those tweets.

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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Havard » Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:16 pm

Probably the biggest shift from 5 and both 3 and 4 - we stopped caring about consistency from table to table.
What does this mean? :|

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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Dread Delgath » Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:44 pm

Mike Mearls is pitching to a TCG audience, NOT the D&D gamers he should be pitching to.

If you want to drive better role-players away from the game Mike, by all means, keep pitching the TCG mechanics of players' character builds, and less about tying the elements of the game that matter together. Stop trying to lure Magic players to D&D. If they get how the game is to be played, they normally don't want to invest the time to actually do it. D&D suffers with built-in shortcuts meant to show how TCG players can "win" at the game.

5e touted 3 pillars of D&D: Combat, Role-play AND Exploration. D&D has always been an abstract combat system (I strongly hesitate to ever call it a system for "simulation"; it has never been, nor supposed to be a simulation of real-life. (Fantasy, remember?)), so we don't have to worry over combat rules for D&D now. That part is. Good. It does not need any more tweaks or bennies for the players (new character "builds").

Unfortunately, some players' idea of role-play is Shakespeare in the Park, and that is too much to delve into. No edition of D&D ever had any extensive "rules" on how to role-play, whether it be thinking logically in-character, telling DMs how to quickly improv an impromptu "scene" with NPCs, or acting tips for players so they can stay in-character throughout the game....

But the game doesn't need that, it needs to leave some stuff alone to allow players to use their imaginations to fill in those blanks on their own, and even my players chafe at the tedious idea of recording the logistics of an adventuring party's supplies that are needed for extensive exploration into the Mythic Underworld or unexplored jungles of Chult.

I want good character creation rules (not builds) that lead to good role-play and immersion into a campaign world, whether that world is the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk, or a home-brewed creation, but specifically geared towards the 3 pillars of discovering, exploring, and sometimes conquering the unknown. 5e does a great job at this already with Backgrounds and the existing races & classes. The subsequent releases of more classes and sub-classes is enticing, but ultimately it dilutes the campaign, rather than making it a richer world; not to mention that many of these new classes/sub-classes are an arms race making the characters at the table that much more powerful and makes the DMs job harder to challenge them with CR equivalent monsters and encounters.

More monster rules means that much more work for the lone DM at the table, so lets not escalate the arms race any further. Empower DMs to say NO to players that want to introduce exotic races and classes that simply do not belong in a campaign. How much different would Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" campaign would be changed if tiefling warlocks were allowed? It would be interesting to some, but not all DMs would approve of such a game-changer, and I suspect that players that really wanted an immersive experience in Tolkien's "LotR" campaign would not appreciate a character that upsets the innate balance inherent in the campaign as created in the first place.

But I want better tools to help the DM foster a gaming environment that is conductive to campaign immersion for players. The last few editions have really enticed players to the game by offering "stronger builds" for their characters, and this has turned into an arms race of a table full of powerful characters vs. a lone DM struggling to create challenges for those players with monsters and rules that make it far too easy for the players to "win".

Players that win too often, or too much don't feel challenged, and they lose interest and move back to games that supports the ideology of player v. player, which D&D is NOT.

TCG players build decks. Role-players CREATE characters. The DM creates (non-player) characters, and some DMs even create settings that have just as much personality as any table full of player characters. Start using language that role-players identify with.

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist was a step in the right direction with game design, but the book still lacked tools that DMs rely on. A booklet of encounter tables and other tools are for sale at DM's Guild for $8.00. Thanks. Now I have to pay again for the very tools that I expected to see in the book in the first place. :roll:

I'm not on twitter, so I hope this post somehow reaches Mike's screen. Mike Mearls, is all this build-up pointing towards edition 6???

Because with all the great things WotC has released for 5e, I don't see why another edition would be needed this soon. IMO there is more interest weekly - or daily in my home campaign. If I get any more new players, I'll need a bigger apartment to host. I can't ask new players to help with rent however, because I imagine they're spending money on the core rulebooks for 5e. ;)
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by shesheyan » Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:53 pm

Havard wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:16 pm
Probably the biggest shift from 5 and both 3 and 4 - we stopped caring about consistency from table to table.
What does this mean? :|

-Havard
It probably also means the designers are not trying to impose uniformity of play from one player group (table) to another player group (table).

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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by shesheyan » Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:59 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:58 pm
I think for me, if there is anywhere where RPGs (and D&D specifically) are going wrong, it is the Edition Treadmill logic of telling people how amazing rules are.

D&D is pitched as a system. And I see people saying it is a better system than other systems. And I also see people saying that other systems are better than D&D. And I see people claiming that one edition of D&D or another is better.

But ultimately, it's all maths. Designers are telling me that one equation is better than another equation. You can wrap it up in a bunch of fancy terms, but what is a Base Attack Bonus or THAC0 other than a mathematical progression that gives you a set of probabilities of outcome.

And that is the part of D&D that I don't care about. That is the part of D&D where I have to learn a bunch of stuff in order to play.

That's not to say that I don't like any of the elements of 5e. The Advantage and Disadvantage mechanics are interesting, but when it comes down to it, they are really just more maths to give players three different sets of probabilities to work with.

For me it's the lore that underpins rules that I am interested in. And I am especially interested in campaign settings, as they come complete with mythology that puts a lot of the monsters...and the rules that support them...into context.

Give me a monster with an ecology and a monster that relates to fantasy cultures within a game world and it stops being a Challange Raiting a number of HD and a bunch of XP and treasure and starts being a threat to NPCs that I care about.

In character history and legends give me the context that makes me care about elements within the game.

Ultimately the reason I want to see 5th Edition bring out a Spelljammer book is that there are a collection of cool Spelljammer hooks that never got used to best effect and I want to see someone revive and expand those ideas.
You should be playing «roll a d6 lets see what happens» then, not 3e, which is the most codified and complex edition of D&D. :lol:

I disagree with you, mechanics of resolution have a direct impact on how a game «feels» at the table for the GM and the players. For exemple if I'm GMing Numenera I won't be rolling a single die during the game. The player do all the work. It liberates me from the chore of rolling dice so I have more time and energy to be attentive to players and finding more interesting plot twist. It very liberating. Its just success/fail at the end but the «experience» is very different and it has a direct impact on role-play and my ability to create a better immersion for the players.

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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Dread Delgath » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:02 pm

shesheyan wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:53 pm
Havard wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:16 pm
Probably the biggest shift from 5 and both 3 and 4 - we stopped caring about consistency from table to table.
What does this mean? :|

-Havard
It probably also means the designers are not trying to impose uniformity of play from one player group (table) to another player group (table).
I do believe this was true of 4e rules, as they were very uniformly & tightly written. Once a character type was chosen, there was very little actual deviation from the "build" choices as presented in the rules.

3e/3.5 went off the rails constantly with character choice, though, so Mearls' statement is not entirely accurate as characters are concerned. However, many 3.5 adventures I've seen or read felt very much more rail-roady than my previous experiences with 1e & even 2e.
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Kythkyn » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:04 pm

Mike Mearls on Twitter wrote:D&D 5 aims to make you care about your character as something that is your personal creation, and the ties between your creation and everyone else’s (DM or player).
I think one of the reasons I don't like 5e is because I don't feel like the character is my personal creation at all. Especially with the magic classes, where everything is really laid out. There's like no mystery? Either way, this is not something I think 5e does well at all unless my personal creation is supposed to be a distinctly Dungeons and Dragons 5e character doing distinctly Dungeons and Dragons 5e things
Mike Mearls on Twitter wrote:Probably the biggest shift from 5 and both 3 and 4 - we stopped caring about consistency from table to table. That ran counter to what we saw as the fundamental strength of tabletop roleplay vs. MMOs.
I must not be parsing this correctly. Is he saying that 3e cared about consistency from table to table?
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Kythkyn » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:07 pm

shesheyan wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:59 pm
mechanics of resolution have a direct impact on how a game «feels» at the table for the GM and the players
100% this
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Dread Delgath » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:15 pm

Kythkyn wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:04 pm
Mike Mearls on Twitter wrote:D&D 5 aims to make you care about your character as something that is your personal creation, and the ties between your creation and everyone else’s (DM or player).
I think one of the reasons I don't like 5e is because I don't feel like the character is my personal creation at all. Especially with the magic classes, where everything is really laid out. There's like no mystery? Either way, this is not something I think 5e does well at all unless my personal creation is supposed to be a distinctly Dungeons and Dragons 5e character doing distinctly Dungeons and Dragons 5e things
I believe wholeheartedly that this is the responsibility of the DM. The DM is the first person you should be asking "How does my character fit into this imaginary world?" "What makes my character personal? Special?" Much of the DM's ability to do this has been taken away in the last few editions of D&D/AD&D.

It is the DM's job to challenge your characters, and that is part of what allows players to discover their character. "Character is what you are in the dark." Means - "Okay, this is what you look like with the lights on, but that doesn't tell us about you. What do you do when the lights are turned off?" This informs us more about your character than what you look like. :cool:
Kythkyn wrote:
Mike Mearls on Twitter wrote:Probably the biggest shift from 5 and both 3 and 4 - we stopped caring about consistency from table to table. That ran counter to what we saw as the fundamental strength of tabletop roleplay vs. MMOs.
I must not be parsing this correctly. Is he saying that 3e cared about consistency from table to table?
I didn't understand this either. It was easy for me to see the built-in consistency of character builds in 4e (see my post above your own), but the only thing I could think of was rail-roady adventures that steered ALL individual tables full of players & their characters towards the same conclusion in any given official game.

Now that I think of this, it also occurs to me that WotC has developed very specific details in their campaign settings that most DMs were encouraged to use - almost uniformly in their individual campaigns. While this allowed players to move from table to table (game to game) under different DMs and different players - the campaign would essentially be the same campaign world, with the same campaign arcs, guided by the same events presented as canon by WotC.
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Havard » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:30 pm

shesheyan wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:53 pm
Havard wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:16 pm
Probably the biggest shift from 5 and both 3 and 4 - we stopped caring about consistency from table to table.
What does this mean? :|

-Havard
It probably also means the designers are not trying to impose uniformity of play from one player group (table) to another player group (table).
Ahh!

I thought they were talking about tables and charts inside the books, not physical gaming tables :D

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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by shesheyan » Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:37 pm

Dread Delgath wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:15 pm
Kythkyn wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:04 pm
Mike Mearls on Twitter wrote:D&D 5 aims to make you care about your character as something that is your personal creation, and the ties between your creation and everyone else’s (DM or player).
I think one of the reasons I don't like 5e is because I don't feel like the character is my personal creation at all. Especially with the magic classes, where everything is really laid out. There's like no mystery? Either way, this is not something I think 5e does well at all unless my personal creation is supposed to be a distinctly Dungeons and Dragons 5e character doing distinctly Dungeons and Dragons 5e things
I believe wholeheartedly that this is the responsibility of the DM. The DM is the first person you should be asking "How does my character fit into this imaginary world?" "What makes my character personal? Special?" Much of the DM's ability to do this has been taken away in the last few editions of D&D/AD&D.

It is the DM's job to challenge your characters, and that is part of what allows players to discover their character. "Character is what you are in the dark." Means - "Okay, this is what you look like with the lights on, but that doesn't tell us about you. What do you do when the lights are turned off?" This informs us more about your character than what you look like. :cool:
Kythkyn wrote:
Mike Mearls on Twitter wrote:Probably the biggest shift from 5 and both 3 and 4 - we stopped caring about consistency from table to table. That ran counter to what we saw as the fundamental strength of tabletop roleplay vs. MMOs.
I must not be parsing this correctly. Is he saying that 3e cared about consistency from table to table?
I didn't understand this either. It was easy for me to see the built-in consistency of character builds in 4e (see my post above your own), but the only thing I could think of was rail-roady adventures that steered ALL individual tables full of players & their characters towards the same conclusion in any given official game.

Now that I think of this, it also occurs to me that WotC has developed very specific details in their campaign settings that most DMs were encouraged to use - almost uniformly in their individual campaigns. While this allowed players to move from table to table (game to game) under different DMs and different players - the campaign would essentially be the same campaign world, with the same campaign arcs, guided by the same events presented as canon by WotC.
Mearls could be saying that by trying to codify almost everything in 3e, the designers were attempting to uniformise play. 5e because of Dis./Adv. and optional rules (feats/multi-classing/rate of healing/ XP or Milestone) feels more malleable to me as a DM. I can pick & choose which variation of D&D I want to play for a specific campaign while choosing another mix for another one.

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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Dread Delgath » Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:02 pm

shesheyan wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:37 pm
Mearls could be saying that by trying to codify almost everything in 3e, the designers were attempting to uniformise play. 5e because of Dis./Adv. and optional rules (feats/multi-classing/rate of healing/ XP or Milestone) feels more malleable to me as a DM. I can pick & choose which variation of D&D I want to play for a specific campaign while choosing another mix for another one.
Yes, absolutely. This malleability does give some additional agency - not only to the players, but back to the DM as well. These options (especially milestones - not original to 5e rules by the way) allows the DM to create adventures that can be more challenging without awarding too much XP that allows characters to advance more rapidly than desired and end the game prematurely for the slotted tier of play.
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by shesheyan » Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:28 pm

Havard wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:30 pm
shesheyan wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:53 pm
Havard wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:16 pm
Probably the biggest shift from 5 and both 3 and 4 - we stopped caring about consistency from table to table.
What does this mean? :|

-Havard
It probably also means the designers are not trying to impose uniformity of play from one player group (table) to another player group (table).
Ahh!

I thought they were talking about tables and charts inside the books, not physical gaming tables :D

-Havard
It was a curve ball. I read the same way as you the first time. ;)

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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by RobJN » Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:50 pm

I thought lack of consistency from table to table was in the 1e DMG and the D&D Expert sets...
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:36 pm

shesheyan wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:37 pm
Mearls could be saying that by trying to codify almost everything in 3e, the designers were attempting to uniformise play.
I think this also extends to the revisions and errata that would come out after book publication, as the designers responded to player feedback and attempted to course correct and ensure that all options were "balanced" against one another (Pathfinder is very notable for this in regards to errata).
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Tim Baker » Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:03 am

Big Mac wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:33 pm
Mike was talking about rules design there, but how do you think this works when it comes down to the games you run at home?
Even when running the same system, I often run it quite differently from one table to another. I use different initiative systems for different groups (different experience levels of the players or different group sizes), for example. I allow different PC options (fewer options for more casual groups with less system mastery). I incorporate grittier injury rules in groups that enjoy that sort of thing, and omit them for those that don't. I'll make up new class features or new races for players who have a particular character concept that the rules don't fully support.

The idea is to make sure everyone in the group is having fun. Fun isn't a "one size fits all" thing, so I can't use precisely the same approach from table to table. This influences the systems that I enjoy, too. If the system won't support differentiating my games from table to table, then I need to spend more effort trying to shoehorn a solution in, or else I have to potentially disappoint one or more players.

Interestingly enough, I didn't have a problem with 4e, in this regard. There are so many PC options, my players could build nearly any character concept they could imagine. In terms of the game itself, the game was so tightly constructed, I could swap out rules or options and as long as they didn't impact core mechanics, it all worked well. For example, I could add or remove background or theme mechanics. I could incorporate various optional rules from the Unearthed Arcana articles from Dungeons & Dragons Insider, such as making combat non-lethal, but having it impose lasting injuries.
Big Mac wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:33 pm
Do you find it easier to get players to care about some things, rather than other things?
Absolutely. This goes back to my "fun isn't a 'one size fits all'" statement. In one group, they may love puzzles or social situations or skill challenges. In another group, they relish the tactical nature of combat, and just want to blow off some steam after work, killing monsters and taking their stuff. I may find it hard to get the first group of players to care about an intricately planned combat scene, while the second group may roll their eyes if I try to get them to care about some NPC that their characters were introduced to. These are extremes, of course. Most players enjoy a mix of all of the above, but in different ratios.
Big Mac wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:33 pm
What do you think are the most engaging things you have seen in D&D (any edition/any setting)? Why do you think those things have connected with players?
This may be a controversial opinion, but I think D&D (as opposed to RPGs in general) is best at making combat engaging. It's what so much of each class description, most spells, and the rules are focused on. I once heard someone say that combat in D&D is like a song in a musical -- it's the mechanism by which the plot is driven forward. This isn't a bad thing. If people didn't enjoy combat, then D&D wouldn't be as popular as it is. And while the other two pillars are important, they don't have nearly the page count devoted to them, which communicates something about the game and its assumptions.
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willpell
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by willpell » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:34 am

I agree with the Chocobo.

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Big Mac
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Re: "Why does a player care about this?"

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:04 pm

Tim Baker wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:03 am
Big Mac wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:33 pm
Mike was talking about rules design there, but how do you think this works when it comes down to the games you run at home?
Even when running the same system, I often run it quite differently from one table to another. I use different initiative systems for different groups (different experience levels of the players or different group sizes), for example. I allow different PC options (fewer options for more casual groups with less system mastery). I incorporate grittier injury rules in groups that enjoy that sort of thing, and omit them for those that don't. I'll make up new class features or new races for players who have a particular character concept that the rules don't fully support.

The idea is to make sure everyone in the group is having fun. Fun isn't a "one size fits all" thing, so I can't use precisely the same approach from table to table. This influences the systems that I enjoy, too. If the system won't support differentiating my games from table to table, then I need to spend more effort trying to shoehorn a solution in, or else I have to potentially disappoint one or more players.

Interestingly enough, I didn't have a problem with 4e, in this regard. There are so many PC options, my players could build nearly any character concept they could imagine. In terms of the game itself, the game was so tightly constructed, I could swap out rules or options and as long as they didn't impact core mechanics, it all worked well. For example, I could add or remove background or theme mechanics. I could incorporate various optional rules from the Unearthed Arcana articles from Dungeons & Dragons Insider, such as making combat non-lethal, but having it impose lasting injuries.
...and...
Tim Baker wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:03 am
Big Mac wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:33 pm
Do you find it easier to get players to care about some things, rather than other things?
Absolutely. This goes back to my "fun isn't a 'one size fits all'" statement. In one group, they may love puzzles or social situations or skill challenges. In another group, they relish the tactical nature of combat, and just want to blow off some steam after work, killing monsters and taking their stuff. I may find it hard to get the first group of players to care about an intricately planned combat scene, while the second group may roll their eyes if I try to get them to care about some NPC that their characters were introduced to. These are extremes, of course. Most players enjoy a mix of all of the above, but in different ratios.
I have been considering a PHB+DMG+MM+"special guest book" approach for 3rd Edition.

I wasn't so much considering a different "special guest book" for individual groups of players and considering different "special guest books" to represent bespoke things that are available in different Spelljammer crystal spheres.

But I guess pitching things at the level of the players is more likely to make them want to stay. :lol:
Tim Baker wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:03 am
Big Mac wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:33 pm
What do you think are the most engaging things you have seen in D&D (any edition/any setting)? Why do you think those things have connected with players?
This may be a controversial opinion, but I think D&D (as opposed to RPGs in general) is best at making combat engaging. It's what so much of each class description, most spells, and the rules are focused on. I once heard someone say that combat in D&D is like a song in a musical -- it's the mechanism by which the plot is driven forward. This isn't a bad thing. If people didn't enjoy combat, then D&D wouldn't be as popular as it is. And while the other two pillars are important, they don't have nearly the page count devoted to them, which communicates something about the game and its assumptions.
There is that idea of skill challanges in later versions of D&D.

I wonder how well that would work if it was retroconverted to earlier rules.

Could something like a Non-Weapon Proficiency challenge be as fun as a fight? Would there be a way for all the players to help out with something they don't all have the NWP for?

I've seen a few people talking about XPloration (as in winning XP bonuses for going to new places). That sounds like it would work with any edition of D&D, but aside from actually telling a GM that you want to go somewhere, is there enough PC involvement for the players to feel they are earning XP that way?
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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