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This mentality of OP wizards in 3rd, 4th, 5th...


D&D 4th Edition (and Beyond)

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Magic has always been stronger than the sword. The only thing saving the hero's is plot armor.

As for magic in 2nd edition was known to be stronger by the writers so they balanced it by having people level at different times.
I think the issue is that game balance to some means all classes are equal. Balance to me means everybody has something they can do to contribute to the story.
A large part of that is dependent upon the social contract of the GM, and players. The GM has to present opportunities, and the player should not go out of their way to steal someone else's spotlight. Of course spending resources trying to do your job, and someone else's can leave you drained. In my games I would let the day continue to go on.

Wizard(insert other caster as needed):I am out of spells. I think we should rest.
GM:Rest has been interrupted.
Wiz:I don't have my spells back yet.
GM:Were you not trying to do someone else's job and yours also you would not even be needing to rest. You can stay in your lane or deal with the consequences of wasting resources.

The game is not going for only simulation or balance. It is going for both. To try to argue only one side or the other is a losing battle.

Shadow Lodge

cranewings wrote:


I've noticed that when players think their is something real at stake, win or loss of the game in this case, they try harder and it makes it more satisfying for them. If they never lose, then it was probably never hard. To make an omelet you have to break a few eggs and all that. Players feelings are the eggs sometimes.

Agreed. If I know that the BBEG's plan would be on hold indefinately while I diddled around town pretending to be a farmer, then I don't really have any real motivation to do anything OTHER than prepare for harvest. Likewise, if I don't really feel like there's any actual danger, then it's just not exciting or fun. My favorite games as a player have been sessions where I've teetered on the razor's edge between life and death...and occasionally careened over that edge. It's one of the reasons I generally prefer martial or stealth-based characters...it's more fun for me to wade into combat or sneak through a room filled with creatures that could easily destroy me if alerted than to hide in the distance making shadow puppets, chanting bad Latin, and playing with owlbear feces.

Shadow Lodge

Bluenose wrote:
I'd also like your opinion on whether previous editions had the same "balance" as 3.x, paying particular attention to saving throws, and why you think that changed. Because you see, if there are demonstrable differences between the editions then clearly the things they're trying to simulate (if they're trying to simulate anything) would be different.

Definately not the same balance. I think they've actually unbalanced the wizard a LOT more in 3.X. Saving Throws were static in pre-d20, by the time you hit the higher levels, you were pretty much making your saving throw, no matter what was thrown at you. They didn't depend on the wizard's level, the spell level, or anything like that...they depended on the level of the person making the saving throw.

Another MASSIVE change was disrupting someone casting a spell. Pre-d20, a single point of damage and the spell was lost. Fast forward to 3.X, and a wizard can keep on casting while you smack him in the face with a greatsword, as long as he's maxed out his Concentration. Pathfinder marginalized this weakness even more, taking away the need for the wizard to dump skill points into Concentration.

Overall, I find it absolutely hilarious that game designers respond to criticism that wizards are overpowered by slightly increasing everyone else's power level, while marginalizing the hell out of the wizard's weaknesses. Pathfinder 2.0 minght actually include spellbook metagame plot immunity as a RAW at this rate.


Kthulhu wrote:
cranewings wrote:


I've noticed that when players think their is something real at stake, win or loss of the game in this case, they try harder and it makes it more satisfying for them. If they never lose, then it was probably never hard. To make an omelet you have to break a few eggs and all that. Players feelings are the eggs sometimes.
Agreed. If I know that the BBEG's plan would be on hold indefinately while I diddled around town pretending to be a farmer, then I don't really have any real motivation to do anything OTHER than prepare for harvest. Likewise, if I don't really feel like there's any actual danger, then it's just not exciting or fun. My favorite games as a player have been sessions where I've teetered on the razor's edge between life and death...and occasionally careened over that edge. It's one of the reasons I generally prefer martial or stealth-based characters...it's more fun for me to wade into combat or sneak through a room filled with creatures that could easily destroy me if alerted than to hide in the distance making shadow puppets, chanting bad Latin, and playing with owlbear feces.

Right on.

Funny story, the game I mentioned ending the world in. Technically this happened twice to the same group, and while I only continue to play off and on with three people from back then, the message stuck.

The first and most glorious incident was a "stop the demon army from invading" game. The party had the magic item to stop them and all they had to do was travel over 4 days to the plains where it was going to happen and do the spell to win. They had a week. Previously, they had been fighting a vampire lord who lived a week away in the opposite direction. They had completely eluded him and hadn't seen or heard from his minions in days. They had a map, with names, and I explained the time it takes to travel. Two of the 8 players decided, for some unknowable reason, that they couldn't save the world with this vampire on their back, and against complaints that they don't have time, literally, to side quest and kill dracula, these two talked everyone into forgetting about the demons and fighting a vampire who had nothing to do with anything.

So they had an epic battle against the vampires, and then the demons came and destroyed the kingdom. I never got it.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:
Magic has always been stronger than the sword. The only thing saving the hero's is plot armor.

Magic is normally, from a plot perspective in books, a deus ex machina with no rules contraints whatsoever. In fact, "rules" of magic in fiction largely came out RPGs, rather than the other way round. I find the suggestion that we should look at fiction, conclude that magic is always stronger, and then build an unbalanced system to be bogus. An author does what he does for dramatic reasons - he kills people because it suits his story, not because they failed a saving throw. A "game" in which individual players should be expected to have an equally good time needs to be predicated on some semblence of balance.

And you also clearly never read Conan, who chopped up evil sorcerers for breakfast. In fact, that's quite a strong trope in fantasy too, and one which D&D (and PF) totally fails to represent after about level, oh, three. I'm wondering why it's valid to have one arbitrary plot device - the mage of enormous power power - elevated over another - the gritty hero with the sword. Are your literary choices more valid? What if I like Conan - can't the "World's Favorite Fantasy RPG" accommodate me? Your suggestion that a non-casting hero is only saved by "plot armour" is hubristic, to say the least - how do you know what "should" of happened in a particular story? And when someone casts a spell, that's not a plot device?

In Tolkien, Gandalf was the next best thing to a god and he hardly did anything overtly magical other than set some wargs on fire and have a light on the end of his staff (and the wizard duel in the films, while fun, was not in the books or even described - for all we know, Tolkien envisaged Gandalf being grabbed by a couple of heavies and shoved in a cell). Sauron was defeated by a couple of hobbits with no magical powers. The main heroes, with the exception of Gandalf, did not do anything magical. In fact, I'm actually wondering what exactly you havce read which includes that? Even Moorcock's heroes basically hit people with sharp implements (even if Elric's was magical) and none of them ever blasted people with fireballs or cast save-or-dies - the most Elric ever did was cast a few Summons.

So I seriously question this notion you are peddling that magic is automatically more powerful because that is the fictional representation. In fact, overwhelming magical power by casters probably came more from the influence of RPGs on fantasy fiction than the other way round.

Taldor

I see your Tolkien Lord of the Rings low magic and raise you Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series and Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Couldn't get into either of those. Perhaps I should have caveated with "well-written fantasy". But the suggestion that "magic always trumps non-magic" is nevertheless questionable.

Taldor

It is indeed questionable, but "well-written fantasy" is an extremely subjective term. Both series are best sellers.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Should I have used my "ironic emoticon"? I know some people really love Jordan (well, the first six or seven books, anyway) and he must have some merits. Goodkind I understand has some... unusual views.

Anyway, A Song of Ice and Fire is another example of magic being pretty low key. I've read that Martin reacts badly to the notion of systematised magic in fiction, probably as a reaction to his background playing RPGs. A counter-example might be Eddings.


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
And you also clearly never read Conan, who chopped up evil sorcerers for breakfast. In fact, that's quite a strong trope in fantasy too, and one which D&D (and PF) totally fails to represent after about level, oh, three. I'm wondering why it's valid to have one arbitrary plot device - the mage of enormous power power - elevated over another - the gritty hero with the sword. Are your literary choices more valid? What if I like Conan - can't the "World's Favorite Fantasy RPG" accommodate me? Your suggestion that a non-casting hero is only saved by "plot armour" is hubristic, to say the least - how do you know what "should" of happened in a particular story? And when someone casts a spell, that's not a plot device?

Effectively, no, it can't, at least in it's 3e/PF version. There's a strain of D&D fan that wants wizards who are more versatile than Merlin, Koschei, Circe and Busirane combined; and at the same time reject any idea of "mundane" characters as capable as Lancelot, Prince Ivan, Odysseus and Belphoebe. Let alone the more powerful "demigod" like warriors who wander through so much literature.


Bluenose wrote:


Effectively, no, it can't, at least in it's 3e/PF version. There's a strain of D&D fan that wants wizards who are more versatile than Merlin, Koschei, Circe and Busirane combined; and at the same time reject any idea of "mundane" characters as capable as Lancelot, Prince Ivan, Odysseus and Belphoebe. Let alone the more powerful "demigod" like warriors who wander through so much literature.

I don't think many people are against the demigod fighter. I'm not and I'm one of the most hostile any caster fighter fan nerds.

My issue isn't the power of the fighter, it is the fluff surrounding the source of his power. Why should I make my character start off as a farmer and by practice martial arts and killing people, he becomes as good as a god? It is silly. I need more to it than that. Why is he so powerful?

It is the lack of any fluff that kills the mood for me. Some of us just don't mentally cope well with the changing scale of the game.


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
Magic has always been stronger than the sword. The only thing saving the hero's is plot armor.

Magic is normally, from a plot perspective in books, a deus ex machina with no rules contraints whatsoever. In fact, "rules" of magic in fiction largely came out RPGs, rather than the other way round. I find the suggestion that we should look at fiction, conclude that magic is always stronger, and then build an unbalanced system to be bogus. An author does what he does for dramatic reasons - he kills people because it suits his story, not because they failed a saving throw. A "game" in which individual players should be expected to have an equally good time needs to be predicated on some semblence of balance.

And you also clearly never read Conan, who chopped up evil sorcerers for breakfast. In fact, that's quite a strong trope in fantasy too, and one which D&D (and PF) totally fails to represent after about level, oh, three. I'm wondering why it's valid to have one arbitrary plot device - the mage of enormous power power - elevated over another - the gritty hero with the sword. Are your literary choices more valid? What if I like Conan - can't the "World's Favorite Fantasy RPG" accommodate me? Your suggestion that a non-casting hero is only saved by "plot armour" is hubristic, to say the least - how do you know what "should" of happened in a particular story? And when someone casts a spell, that's not a plot device?

In Tolkien, Gandalf was the next best thing to a god and he hardly did anything overtly magical other than set some wargs on fire and have a light on the end of his staff (and the wizard duel in the films, while fun, was not in the books or even described - for all we know, Tolkien envisaged Gandalf being grabbed by a couple of heavies and shoved in a cell). Sauron was defeated by a couple of hobbits with no magical powers. The main heroes, with the exception of Gandalf, did not do anything magical. In fact, I'm actually wondering what exactly...

I like Conan, but he was still protected by plot armor.

As for Gandalf that boils down to "if the easy path were taken it would be a short movie".

You give me Gandalf, and let me write that story, and the ring will be taken from the hobbit and dropped in the volcaneo. Give me Sauron, and those hobbits die by the end of book two. After your minions mess up so many times you need to handle things on your own.

Andoran

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Scott Betts wrote:


The best games are the ones where the DM embraces the rails, while giving the PCs the illusion of wide-open choice.

Actually the best games are run by GM's who are creative and smart enough to give the PCs wide open choice without letting the game go off the rails.

Some GMs just can't hack it.

Qadira

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:

I like Conan, but he was still protected by plot armor.

As for Gandalf that boils down to "if the easy path were taken it would be a short movie".

You give me Gandalf, and let me write that story, and the ring will be taken from the hobbit and dropped in the volcaneo. Give me Sauron, and those hobbits die by the end of book two. After your minions mess up so many times you need to handle things on your own.

"Plot armour" is your term for [i]deus ex machina[i/]. "Magic" is my term for "deus ex machina". What makes you think that Gandalf casts like a high-level wizard in D&D? I'll tell you - your expectations of playing D&D. Which is a game, not a literary requirement. You are presumably one of these people who tries to work out what level characters in novels are. There are no "rules" as to what magic in a novel can do, so it is down to the whim of the novelist. Gandalf couldn't fight off Saruman, and had to be rescued by a big eagle - so now he's teleporting to Mount Doom? I'm glad you're not writing this stuff - The Lord of the Rings trilogy (all three pages of it). It also demonstrates why casters in D&D are stupidly over-powered. If they can screw up the plot of a novel, why suddenly aren't they screwing up the game?

I'll say it again - "magic" in novels does not demontrate the intrinsic superiority of magic in every way, shape and form and why it should be so in D&D. D&D has instead filtered backwards into fantasy literature and created the expectation that magic is all-powerful among impressionable readers.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
ciretose wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:


The best games are the ones where the DM embraces the rails, while giving the PCs the illusion of wide-open choice.

Actually the best games are run by GM's who are creative and smart enough to give the PCs wide open choice without letting the game go off the rails.

OK, so you admit the existence of the rails then? If that's the case, aren't you basically saying the same thing? If you were playing a Paizo AP, and the players go "off the rails", what would you do? Try and push them back, or let them just run away and do something entirely different? Improvise something, or try and nudge them back to the plot (which is presumably likely to be cooler than anything you can come up with, given it's done by professionals)? The AP writers themselves ackowledge that the APs are themselves railroad-y - it's their intrinsic nature. And if you can't actually motivate the players to go in the direction you want, isn't that actually a failure on the DM's part to actually communicate?

See, there's an element where the PCs have to cooperate with the DM too. I remember reading about a group where at the beginning of Age of Worms they found themselves standing outside the dungeon at the very beginning. And the players decided "Hey, I'm not going in there" and the whole campaign didn't happen. That, in my view, is just stupid. Sure, you can roll with it, but isn't it better to play what is a very good AP rather than improvise some wandering monsters (and waste the investment in buying the thing)? Did the DM not explain what was happening? The whole thing seems actually quite destructive and pointless to me.

Likewise, in the less extreme example of the demon invasion v the vampire lord - were the likely repercusions (not necessarily actual, since they couldn't know those, but a reasonable expectation that something very bad could happen) actually explained to the party by the DM? Was the information the PCs should have known given to them? If they didn't have a reasonable expectation that by tackling the vampire lord the kingdom would be destroyed, it's maybe not surprising they chose not to address the demon invasion as a priority. It's quite easy for a DM to forget that something in his head won't be obvious to his players, because he knows how these things will pan out.

I've been running a couple of campaigns on these boards for about five years. One is my own, the other is RotRL. I'd actually say that keeping the overall plot objective in mind is quite important, and to ensure that it is understood. It's perfectly OK to nudge players towards the coolness, in my view - it's why they are playing after all. Some DMs feel happy to completely improvise but that doesn't actually mean they are necessarily better DMs, in my view. There's a lot more to it than just that.

Quote:
Some GMs just can't hack it.

Indeed, some can't.


cranewings wrote:
My issue isn't the power of the fighter, it is the fluff surrounding the source of his power. Why should I make my character start off as a farmer and by practice martial arts and killing people, he becomes as good as a god? It is silly. I need more to it than that. Why is he so powerful?

Firstly, a farmer who picks up a sword is a Fighter the same way a farmer who picks up a spellbook is a Wizard. Secondly, I'm perfectly happy with the concept that a very few people take their training, and then go far beyond it into the realm where they are doing things way beyond the limitations of the ordinary. They're not actually transcending mortal limitations, they're redefining the limits of what can be done. And that happens all the time, as advances in all sorts of fields make obvious.


Diffan wrote:

Scott I've come to the realization that, from reading this thread, most people either don't like to admit that there are problems within the system OR just tend not to let those aspects ruin their fun. That, and I wonder how many actually have high-level, optimizing wizards as their players? Or even just high-level wizards peroid.

From my own experiences, I can say without a doubt that spellcasters are just more powerful than non-spellcasting classes...

Ok, I'll bite. In 3.0-3.5, I've played campaigns that went to level 30+, multiple that went well above 20, and countless that ended in the high teens. I've been that wizard in epic play, and yes, it is extremely powerful. But, it's also a hell of a headache keeping track of epic level spell lists, items, etc.. Our DM was benevolent enough to let everyone simply take averages on rolls to speed up play, since most players in the party were rolling handfuls of dice for everything they did.

Yes, the epic wizard is almost god-like in power, but that power comes with a LOT of gaming responsibility, and not every player wants that much of a headache. The level 30 Fighters, were perfectly happy being Fighters, and were merrily crushing monsters without needing to do a fraction of the bookkeeping that I had to.

The idea that "most powerful class ever" is the one singular goal for every player is a completely foreign concept for me and my groups. Yes, we want to be effective, we want to see our characters progress and do neat things, but it's not a race, and it's not a competition. Any games that became competitive, quickly crashed and burned.

Here's the thing; yes, this is a game, so classes "should" play fair and balanced, players should get equal experiences, etc. BUT, not all players want the same experience; the guy who wants to play as a sword-swinging battle master, clad in plate armor and rending foes with his blades, should not be told "just go play a wizard, it's moar uber pwrful."

Again, for clarity;
Not all players want the same experience, or just want to be the "most powerful" class. Maybe someone feels like being a rogue, maybe someone wants to be a knight. Just because something is more powerful, doesn't mean everyone necessarily instantly wants to use it.

As far as balance, I think there could be a LOT more measures used to keep wizard's spells a bit more in line with other classes, but my games run just fine as is without such measures. If anything, I'd just like to see spells toned down that emulate other classes; such as the ones that allow wizards to emulate fighters, rogues, etc. The spells that grant wizards their own niche, even bend reality, I honestly have no problem with. I'd just prefer they didn't have the ability to steal the spotlight from other classes so easily.

The people on most gaming boards treat RPG's as if every single player is fighting for the spotlight every waking second of every single game, and treating every player is if the game is some kind of competition to be the most powerful thing ever above and beyond everyone in the party. yes, some games play like this. In my 20+ years, I've maybe seen one, two tops. And those games were comprised of players who absolutely treated the game as a competition, for the expressed purpose of outdoing everyone else at the table. Those games ALWAYS crashed and burned when the first player to get a hint of actual power in-game turned and used it against the party.

By comparison, these boards treat the game as if that play is the norm, and that scares the crap out of me.

D&D is not, and should not, be a competition. Unless the DM is purposely running a game to force the players into a competitory situation, then the arms-race for player power should be a non-issue.

Here comes the "fighters can't have nice things" statement: Magic is absolutely more powerful than all things mundane. It's freaking magic; it's bending the laws of physics and manipulating reality. No mundane mortal, swinging a hunk of metal, will ever be as powerful as another being who has the means of immortality and the laws of creation at his fingertips.

Thing is, not every player wants this power. I don't know how any of your play groups are, but 99% of the players and DM's I've been fortunate to play with in 20+ years have always preferred playing their chosen concept, over raw DPR Olympics BS. As soon as someone waves the "herpderp wizards are more powerful, you should play one" idea in one of my players faces, it gets shot down with "nah, I'd rather play X. I feel like playing X. When I feel like playing a wizard, I'll play a wizard."

The idea that players only playing specific classes to be the most powerful thing EVAR, over just playing an interesting character concept, is in direct conflict with any actual game I've ever played. The fact that most boards automatically assume this as the standard of play, makes me glad I don't know a lot of posters in person.

This is all just anecdotal and opinionated, so if your players derive more satisfaction from competing against the other players that the table, then have at it. Just be glad I'm not at your table.


Bluenose wrote:
cranewings wrote:
My issue isn't the power of the fighter, it is the fluff surrounding the source of his power. Why should I make my character start off as a farmer and by practice martial arts and killing people, he becomes as good as a god? It is silly. I need more to it than that. Why is he so powerful?
Firstly, a farmer who picks up a sword is a Fighter the same way a farmer who picks up a spellbook is a Wizard. Secondly, I'm perfectly happy with the concept that a very few people take their training, and then go far beyond it into the realm where they are doing things way beyond the limitations of the ordinary. They're not actually transcending mortal limitations, they're redefining the limits of what can be done. And that happens all the time, as advances in all sorts of fields make obvious.

And even without giving the fighter strange powers, he's already by high levels well outside of human abilities.

Even without any magical gear, hand a fighter a dull rusty version of his favorite weapon and he can go kill a rhino or any real wild creature with no real risk. Or know he can walk away from a 100' fall. Etc. Etc.

Personally, I like Earthdawn's approach to this. All the Adepts (PC classes, basically) are using magic. Some cast spells. Some use it to improve their skills and physical abilities.

Andoran

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Let me define what I mean by “The Rail”

Something is going on.

The DM knows exactly what it is. Generally it is a plot being hatched by a BBEG, sometimes it is some kind of other event that is proceeding.

That is the rail.

Now where on the rail the PCs interact is determined by what they do. Once in a game I played a PC derailed an entire story arc because one player happened to have see invisibility on and saw a permanently invisible evil BBEG who was hiding and watching us, he cast disintegrate and the BBEG rolled a one.

The GM, paused for a second, then said that since the creature was permanently invisible, that none of us saw the “dust” and all of us just thought the PC who disintegrated the BBEG who was supposed to be a story arc was crazy when he said “I saw a bug thing and I killed it!”

The GM, who is a very good GM, then proceeded with the story as he thought it would go if that particular BBEG was suddenly killed and the players were concerned about the mental health of the wizard.

The story always proceeds regardless of any one character, because there should always be enough stuff going on for the story to proceed. There is never one "rail". There are always lots and lots of "rails".

It is a world, after all.

Similarly, once we found a crypt, and in that crypt a tomb that was sealed with a magical sword, covered in runes and instructions to not remove it under any circumstances or you would release a great and powerful evil. This was written in a language every character in the party could read…except one…who was the only person who wasn’t incapacitated by the trap that hit us as we entered the room.

So he pulled the sword. Stuff happened that became months and months of plotline. All because of a choice we made, that we weren’t supposed to make.

We were supposed to find the room before the BBEG we were fighting did, and to stop them from freeing the Super BBEG. The sword being the key was GM fluff which would be a reward if we completed the ritual that prevented the Super BBEG from being raised.

Instead, we freed the Super BBEG, because the guy couldn’t read and pulled the sword that was keeping him trapped out.

The players decisions mattered. The GM did not constrain them. The GM created a world and at every step asked the question “What would happen now?”

Not all GMs can do that. Good ones can. If you don’t have a good GM, enjoy the train ride.

Good GMs can go off road without going off a cliff.


Scott Betts wrote:
cranewings wrote:
I just think it is boring.
Welcome to one-way-mirror storytelling. You think it's dull because you can see the whole picture. As a player, you don't. You see what your character sees, and nothing more. Through your characters eyes, you just happen to show up at an appropriately dramatic moment (or, if the adventure so decrees, a dramatically-appropriate non-dramatic moment!). You have no conception or indication of the DM fudging the timeline, because you were never made aware of what the timeline was "supposed" to be in the first place.

There's a give and take. This works once in a great while, having the players show up just in time to stop the big bad event, but if I use that more than, say, once a year my players feel like they're playing on rails. Because in this case, they would be. Bad sport, in my opinion.

Scott Betts wrote:

Here's a mind-blowing moment for you, then: Almost nothing the players do matters, at least not in the grand scheme of things. The trick is to give your players the illusion of impact, and the illusion of agency. Give them actual impact and actual agency when the game can handle it, and chuck the rest of it behind the curtain. If you're a halfway-decent DM, your players will never know the difference.

Now, if you're worried that your players might be catching on to your "overly-appropriate" timing, change things up a little. Make it seem unpredictable for a little while.

You and I will never share a table. The very moment a player gets the hint that nothing they do actually matters, the railroad is in full view. Some players don't mind playing on rails. However, I abhor it. YMMV

I've ran entire campaigns built solely upon player's actions and the game-world reacting to them. A mix of sandbox, but with entire adventures based around events spurred from players actions. Some reoccurring villain NPC's were brought about due to some accident on the PC's part, wronging someone or not finishing a task. NPC villains with a personal, justifiable vendetta against the PC's has a much more dramatic effect than just statting up boss monsters that sit idly by in lairs awaiting destruction.

As far as being a "half-way good DM," I'd much rather spend my creative energy building the world where the PC's are immersed, rather than trying to come up with ways to fool my players into thinking anything they do actually matters. I'd rather play with my player's creativity, not against it.

Quote:
Personally, I've ended the world in a 6 month campaign because the players drug their feet on getting to the end boss. Game over. Sucks to be you. It fixed their problem with feeling a sense of urgency forever, starting some 10 years ago.
Quote:


Yeah, this is probably the sort of problem that never needed solving. You took something your players were enjoying - a leisurely campaign - and turned it into the very definition of a joy-kill: the world ended. Was this something that you bothered to discuss with your group - out of game! - or was it...

I think you are misinterpreting "the end of the world." Entire RPG's are built on playing after the world "ended;" ever hear of a "post-apocalyptic setting?" Doesn't always need to have mutants and guns, post-apocalyptic can refer to fantasy settings too. Rebuilding a dying world sounds like an amazing role-play opportunity, especially if the player's actions/inaction caused it. Tons of room for character development; redemption, realization, reaction, and revenge. Maybe the NPC's know of the player's mistakes, and blame them for it? Will the PC's still fight to help the very people that hate them? I can do this all day. Oh yeah, and it's heavily influenced by, ya know, the player's actions actually mattering.

Qadira

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
ciretose wrote:

Let me define what I mean by “The Rail”

Something is going on.

The DM knows exactly what it is. Generally it is a plot being hatched by a BBEG, sometimes it is some kind of other event that is proceeding.

That is the rail.

Now where on the rail the PCs interact is determined by what they do. Once in a game I played a PC derailed an entire story arc because one player happened to have see invisibility on and saw a permanently invisible evil BBEG who was hiding and watching us, he cast disintegrate and the BBEG rolled a one.

The GM, paused for a second, then said that since the creature was permanently invisible, that none of us saw the “dust” and all of us just thought the PC who disintegrated the BBEG who was supposed to be a story arc was crazy when he said “I saw a bug thing and I killed it!”

The GM, who is a very good GM, then proceeded with the story as he thought it would go if that particular BBEG was suddenly killed and the players were concerned about the mental health of the wizard.

The story always proceeds regardless of any one character, because there should always be enough stuff going on for the story to proceed. There is never one "rail". There are always lots and lots of "rails".

It is a world, after all.

Similarly, once we found a crypt, and in that crypt a tomb that was sealed with a magical sword, covered in runes and instructions to not remove it under any circumstances or you would release a great and powerful evil. This was written in a language every character in the party could read…except one…who was the only person who wasn’t incapacitated by the trap that hit us as we entered the room.

So he pulled the sword. Stuff happened that became months and months of plotline. All because of a choice we made, that we weren’t supposed to make.

We were supposed to find the room before the BBEG we were fighting did, and to stop them from freeing the Super BBEG. The sword being the key was GM fluff which would be a reward if we completed the ritual that prevented...

OK - first off, are you really sure you weren't supposed to pull that sword? Secondly, it is true that there are a number of rails. However, do those rails lead off in wildly different directions, or do they diverge a bit before coming back to the place you were heading to anyway? I'm not really that interested in your experiences as a player, I'm interested in your experiences as a DM as that is actually relevant as to whether you actually really were not being railroaded, or actually you were being railroaded and just didn't notice (i.e. the DM planned for a contingency, and ran with it). How would you know?

In my RotRL game, the PCs are currently very off the beaten track, and we are playing out a couple of subplots which do not remotely appear in the published AP. But it doesn't mean they aren't going to get to the climax of the AP, they are just getting there by a slightly circituitous route. So am I railroading, or am I not? This meander was something that made sense in-game, and players asked me out of game if it was cool (which it was). But I'm still playing RotRL.

Players are sometimes happy with railroading. In a similar situation to the one where your fellow player disintegrated the BBEG, I had a PC roll a crit on an enemy and kill him. I thought about it - it was a fun bad guy, quite flavourful - but decided to let the player have his reward and the enemy died, which was not my intention as I'd hoped to use him as a recurring villain. Afterwards, the players stated they were a bit disappointed, as they'd enjoyed their roleplaying interactions with him. I was such an awesome DM (insert ironic emoticon here) they were sad to see an enemy I'd roleplayed go - so should I in fact have fudged the roll instead? Hard to say in retrospect. Would it make me a bad DM if I had, to "railroad" my players along the lines I'd wanted? I don't believe so - they would have enjoyed seeing him again, and PC enjoyment is pretty high on the list of what a DM is trying to achieve. In fact, is avoiding railroading the only thing that makes a good DM, as you seem to be suggesting? Is it always wrong? I don't think Paizo and James Jacobs think so.

And anyway, I also object to this one-dimensional notion that not railroading is the holy grail of DM'ing. The holy grail of DM'ing is happy, engaged players. If you give players either (1) choice or (2) the illusion of choice, if the illusion is good then it doesn't matter. To some extent (2) requires a degree of improvisational ability, but also cunning, forward planning and subterfuge. I think it is a perfectly valid way to approach a game as a DM, and in my experience it is one to which players react well. It's a question of playstyle. After all, giving players choice but being crap at roleplaying, not knowing the rules, being bad at encounter design, communicating badly and so on, means you are probably still a poor DM. Most of those are probably more important, frankly, than railroading.


Some players don' mind railroads. Many published AP's are pretty railroady, but it's built in. I can't stand playing on rails, as both a player and a DM; I like my games feeling like anything can happen, and reacting when it does. But, that's just me. YMMV.

Honestly? A bit of a confessional here; I suck at running modules. Period. Anything longer than a one-nighter, and I'm clawing at the chance to get it over with and go back to open-ended roleplaying. I've had too many instances where the players do something that goes completely against what the module/AP expects them to do, but makes perfect sense for the group, and I have to somehow salvage the adventure, or completely abandon it. I'm not an industry pro, so I'll just assume it's me.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Josh M. wrote:
Some players don' mind railroads. Many published AP's are pretty railroady, but it's built in. I can't stand playing on rails, as both a player and a DM; I like my games feeling like anything can happen, and reacting when it does. But, that's just me. YMMV.

Yeah. This isn't isn't about "railroad = bad", "non-railroad = good" - it's about personal preference and play-style. If the view from the railroad is good, I don't see the problem. Most players recognise, and indeed appreciate, a bit of narrative structure. The role of the DM where that structure is in place is to lead them through it and deal with the consequences of their actions, but that doesn't necessarily (indeed, it almost certainly won't) involve the immediate abandonment of the metaplot just because things don't go completely to plan. So when Scott says something like "the actions of the players don't matter", what he's saying is that this metaplot is still there and the players are still going through it, even if (say) NPC A has been killed by the players and he's the one who knows everything about the plot to kill the king. The skill is to shift the details without derailing the plot. Pure sandbox is possible and some people like it like that, but even when I'm doing my own campaign I have an end-point in mind and gently steer the PCs in that direction. Sandbox can be a boring series of random encounters if done badly - sure, you have choice, but it's not actually very engaging. Of course, sandbox can be done well too, but it isn't really for me.

Quote:
Honestly? A bit of a confessional here; I suck at running modules. Period. Anything longer than a one-nighter, and I'm clawing at the chance to get it over with and go back to open-ended roleplaying. I've had too many instances where the players do something that goes completely against what the module/AP expects them to do, but makes perfect sense for the group, and I have to somehow salvage the adventure, or completely abandon it. I'm not an industry pro, so I'll just assume it's me.

No, it's not just you! My RotRL is not very close to what is written (in fact, the current phase has got nothing to do with it). Individual modules I also can't deal with - I deal in campaigns rather than one-nighters. But, unlike your approach, I need the ultimate end point as for me I can't get engaged with something that's "plot-less". Then I can tease with foreshadowing, confuse with partial detail, and generally pull the players along to see what the thing is really about, and what they need to do about it. I can build in sub-plots based on the backgrounds and actions of the PCs. And with the freedom of knowing where I'm going, I can be reasonably relaxed about how to get there.


cranewings wrote:

Obviously when someone says something is boring, they are talking about from their perspective. Sorry I didn't preempt my post with a disclaimer that says I don't believe in a heaven of ideals where in is the definition and list of boring things. I think games like what you are describing are boring.

The idea that a GM can give an illusion of player agency if he "is halfway decent" is VASTLY overstated. Any player that cares about player agency can tell right away when he is being lied to. For your illusion of player agency thing to work, you have to have a PC group full of people who aren't looking for real agency and don't mind being lied to. That's what it is, lying, and it is transparent.

As far as the problem of the players enjoying it, sorry, but I care at least as much about my own enjoyment and letting them win when they make wrong choices is boring to me. I've noticed that when players think their is something real at stake, win or loss of the game in this case, they try harder and it makes it more satisfying for them. If they never lose, then it was probably never hard. To make an omelet you have to break a few eggs and all that. Players feelings are the eggs sometimes.

See, from my perspective, you just take the whole thing way too seriously for a game that involves pretending to be magical elves around a dinner table with some friends. And this is coming from a guy who already takes D&D way too seriously.


ciretose wrote:

Let me define what I mean by “The Rail”

Something is going on.

The DM knows exactly what it is. Generally it is a plot being hatched by a BBEG, sometimes it is some kind of other event that is proceeding.

That is the rail.

That's not a rail. That's not even a road. That's just something happening in the game world.

Andoran

As to the sword, we were not supposed to pull it. It was the reward we were to get once we vanquisted the super BBEG.

As to when I GM, I had a similar experience when running a ROTRL/COTCT mash up where players went off book and the BBEG escaped and came back laterM similarly they captured the first BBEG and as a result the magnamar experience changed dramatically.

Yes, at the end of the day the big boss is doing what they do. But you'll also recall the "what if they fail"section of each AP.


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
Josh M. wrote:
Some players don' mind railroads. Many published AP's are pretty railroady, but it's built in. I can't stand playing on rails, as both a player and a DM; I like my games feeling like anything can happen, and reacting when it does. But, that's just me. YMMV.
Yeah. This isn't isn't about "railroad = bad", "non-railroad = good" - it's about personal preference and play-style. If the view from the railroad is good, I don't see the problem. Most players recognise, and indeed appreciate, a bit of narrative structure. The role of the DM where that structure is in place is to lead them through it and deal with the consequences of their actions, but that doesn't necessarily (indeed, it almost certainly won't) involve the immediate abandonment of the metaplot just because things don't go completely to plan. So when Scott says something like "the actions of the players don't matter", what he's saying is that this metaplot is still there and the players are still going through it, even if (say) NPC A has been killed by the players and he's the one who knows everything about the plot to kill the king. The skill is to shift the details without derailing the plot. Pure sandbox is possible and some people like it like that, but even when I'm doing my own campaign I have an end-point in mind and gently steer the PCs in that direction. Sandbox can be a boring series of random encounters if done badly - sure, you have choice, but it's not actually very engaging. Of course, sandbox can be done well too, but it isn't really for me.

I agree, but sometimes a plot shift is inevitable. Sometimes the players get bored with the plot (could be a bad DM, could be a generic story, etc) and they will go out of their way to derail themselves. My strength as a DM is taking that derail and making a new game out of it, but then it makes having the module in the first place kind of moot.

Aubrey the Malformed wrote:


No, it's not just you! My RotRL is not very close to what is written (in fact, the current phase has got nothing to do with it). Individual modules I also can't deal with - I deal in campaigns rather than one-nighters. But, unlike your approach, I need the ultimate end point as for me I can't get engaged with something that's "plot-less". Then I can tease with foreshadowing, confuse with partial detail, and generally pull the players along to see what the thing is really about, and what they need to do about it. I can build in sub-plots based on the backgrounds and actions of the PCs. And with the freedom of knowing where I'm going, I can be reasonably relaxed about how to get there.

It all sort of comes back to the timeless mantra of gaming; "different strokes for different folks." I can weave a plot out of one-nighters with ease, but I just do not have the attention span to make it through a full published adventure path intact. I like to change things up and keep things moving, pretty much as the mood of the game changes. I get a feel for what the players would like to do, and I incorporate it to the best of my abilities into the following session.

I've tried to do closely-knit, overreaching metaplots before, but too often the plot got in the way of the player's fun, and fun comes first in the hierarchy of good gaming for me. I'll gladly sacrifice the plot, if it moves the game in a positive direction and everyone has fun with it.

For me, it goes; Fun > Story/Plot > Mechanics. The latter is always sacrificed before the former. Mechanics can and will change to fit the mood of the story, and the story can and will change to keep the game fun and fresh. This is very, very hard for me to do with pre-written, published modules.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
ciretose wrote:
Yes, at the end of the day the big boss is doing what they do. But you'll also recall the "what if they fail"section of each AP.

I do. Those are pure railroading to get the plot back on track. That said, I don't complain about them, they are there to trigger thought about sensible contingencies.

Andoran

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Scott Betts wrote:
ciretose wrote:

Let me define what I mean by “The Rail”

Something is going on.

The DM knows exactly what it is. Generally it is a plot being hatched by a BBEG, sometimes it is some kind of other event that is proceeding.

That is the rail.

That's not a rail. That's not even a road. That's just something happening in the game world.

Everything is something happening in the game world. If everything that happens is scripted regardless of player actions, read a book.


Thread seems to have gone from OP casters to sandbox vs static world, but here goes:

The "PCs have to show to show up just in time or lose the game" problem can be solved by a module writer or DM who's willing to consider the ramifications of player actions. You know what's a bigger challenge than interrupting an evil priest's ritual? Defeating said priest once he's conquered a kingdom or two with his demon army.

The PCs don't have to win every fight; if Luke had showed up and rescued everyone at Cloud City by killing Darth Vader before the big reveal, it would have been a very different trilogy. Maybe the best example of a static world is LotR, where the hobbits win, go home and discover that Hobbiton's been conquered by the forces of evil anyhow.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Josh M. wrote:

It all sort of comes back to the timeless mantra of gaming; "different strokes for different folks." I can weave a plot out of one-nighters with ease, but I just do not have the attention span to make it through a full adventure path intact. I like to change things up and keep things moving, pretty much as the mood of the game changes. I get a feel for what the players would like to do, and I incorporate it to the best of my abilities into the following session.

I've tried to do closely-knit, overreaching metaplots before, but too often the plot got in the way of the player's fun, and fun comes first in the hierarchy of good gaming for me. I'll gladly sacrifice the plot, if it moves the game in a positive direction and everyone has fun with it.

For me, it goes; Fun > Story/Plot > Mechanics. The latter is always sacrificed before the former. Mechanics can and will change to fit the mood of the story, and the story can and will change to keep the game fun and fresh. This is very, very hard for me to do with pre-written, published modules.

Well, it's certainly the case that I've changed APs to get to what I want. I see them as useful inspirational material, but I'll very often redesign encounters and so on. How players interact with plot will depend on them to some extent, and it's a judgement call regarding your group. I wouldn't say my stuff is closely plotted, though - it's loosely plotted. It's more seeing the end point and very roughly how to get there, adapting as you go along based on what has already happened. Anything more detailed than that can go badly awry.

The main challenge is to motivate the PCs to do stuff - the details I leave to them. Personally, I try to design a series of set-piece encounters - usually, but not always combat - and then set up the PCs to want to go and deal with whatever they relate to. Setting up a particular segment by setting the players an objective, then once that's decided the rest falls into place. Then, once that segment is over, you set up the next segment... And so on, while building gradually in a sequence towards the ultimate climax. That said, I feely use sub-plots, often derived from the individual PCs' backgrounds, to flesh things out. These are also very good since if a player has said that the PC's main aim is to clear huis family name, he'd hardly ignore a plot where he can do just that. And so on.


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ciretose wrote:
The players decisions mattered. The GM did not constrain them. The GM created a world and at every step asked the question “What would happen now?”

Your DM seems to be a very good DM and I agree with you players decitions should matter.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Nicos wrote:
ciretose wrote:
The players decisions mattered. The GM did not constrain them. The GM created a world and at every step asked the question “What would happen now?”
Your DM seems to be a very good DM and I agree with you players decitions should matter.

Hmm? So he looked at the possibilites and decided what would happen? And that's not plotting? You can run a single plot, or you can run multiple plotlines and chop and change between them. Doesn't mean the DM didn't know what was going to happen in advance virtually all the time, or have a back-up in case things didn't go to plan. It's called planning for contingencies. I've done that, but I'm not pretending that I'm not manipulating the players when I'm doing it. They probably thought I was a genius too.


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:


Hmm? So he looked at the possibilites and decided what would happen? And that's not plotting? You can run a single plot, or you can run multiple plotlines and chop and change between them. Doesn't mean the DM didn't know what was going to happen in advance virtually all the time, or have a back-up in case things didn't go to plan. It's called planning for contingencies.

I do not know if my players are crazy but a lot of times they surprise me doing thing i would never expect.

When I Played at a table I Used to improvise a lot, We roll the dice in plain sight so I could not railroad. Of course I haved a plot and a general idea of what could go wrong but that is not a warranty. By the other hand if my players cames with a ingenious way to defeat the BBEG or to acomplish their goals I am supposed to say "no you can do that because you ruin my plot"?

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

There's always going to be an element of improvisation no matter what when you DM. But generally, if the PCs are in a fight, it's worth considering what happens if the person they are fighting dies. Most of the time it doesn't matter - they are supposed to die - but thinking what-if's is also a good idea under those circumstances where the enemy has plot significance. That doesn't necessarily entail fudging an implausible escape - there's every possibility that the individual dies and someone else takes over as BBEG instead - but like I said above the ways players might react to that can't be predicted. I mean, Ciretose is right that being able to roll with what happens is part of the job description of being a DM. I just don't agree that having a game-plan makes you a bad DM.


Nicos wrote:
When I Played at a table I Used to improvise a lot, We roll the dice in plain sight so I could not railroad. Of course I haved a plot and a general idea of what could go wrong but that is not a warranty. By the other hand if my players cames with a ingenious way to defeat the BBEG or to acomplish their goals I am supposed to say "no you can do that because you ruin my plot"?

Fudging the dice is only the simplest and most obvious of ways the GM can railroad.

You have complete control over the entire universe. Even in the context of a single fight, you and only you know what spells, items, abilities and allies the enemy has available. There are so many things you can do to control what happens while rolling all dice in plain sight.


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
Just don't agree that having a game-plan makes you a bad DM.

Of course not, designing a new plan on the fly because the unespected actions of the players does not make you a bad DM neither.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Nicos wrote:
Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
Just don't agree that having a game-plan makes you a bad DM.
Of course not, designing a new plan on the fly because the unespected actions of the players does not make you a bad DM neither.

No, of course not, it's a really handy thing to be good at. The railroading argument is more about ultimate destination rather than rigidly holding to a single path. Unexpected things are inevitable, and having to address the consequences, but just because things don't go immediately to plan it doesn't necessarily follow that nudging back to where you wanted to go is a bad thing. It's the "black-and-whiteness" about some of the argument that seems incorrect to me.


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
Nicos wrote:
Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
Just don't agree that having a game-plan makes you a bad DM.
Of course not, designing a new plan on the fly because the unespected actions of the players does not make you a bad DM neither.
No, of course not, it's a really handy thing to be good at. The railroading argument is more about ultimate destination rather than rigidly holding to a single path.

There is time when I can railroda the plot so the action of the player take them to the same end. There is time when i can not or do not want to because the action of the player make me think in new ideas and plots.

Shadow Lodge

Since the discussion has turned to the influence of RPGs and literature upon each other, I have to wonder where the fighter's weak will save comes from. It's damn sure not literature, where most protagonist warriors have a will that that even the most powerful magics simply can NOT break.


Scott Betts wrote:


The best games are the ones where the DM embraces the rails, while giving the PCs the illusion of wide-open choice.

Um, wow. This speaks volumes. Hey, if your players are cool with knowing their choices make absolutely zero impact on the story, then it's all good. The fun is what counts, and if playing from scripts are what you guys find fun, then you have my blessing.

I played a short stint with a new group last fall that were like that; the DM had a railroad game so blatant, when at one point he had us on an actual train in-game, I almost cracked up. But, the other players were all for it. They practically looked to the DM for what they were supposed to be doing each round. I didn't last long in that game.


Kthulhu wrote:
Since the discussion has turned to the influence of RPGs and literature upon each other, I have to wonder where the fighter's weak will save comes from. It's damn sure not literature, where most protagonist warriors have a will that that even the most powerful magics simply can NOT break.

I can't say for certain, but I think it's a stat balance ideal, such as a Fighter being so powerful physically, that the balance would be that his mind is less powerful. I've also read(but now I'm drawing a blank) all manner of warrior-type characters, whom magic was their weakness; they could crush any other opponent in the physical arena, but they were all but helpless against something that doesn't target their body, but their mind.

I'm literally pulling this out of thin air, but it's just how it my brain justifies it.


Kthulhu wrote:
Since the discussion has turned to the influence of RPGs and literature upon each other, I have to wonder where the fighter's weak will save comes from. It's damn sure not literature, where most protagonist warriors have a will that that even the most powerful magics simply can NOT break.

Good question. I suppose those protagonist does not dump wisdom and they take iron and improved iron will.

It is a shame there is not a class ability that rewad figthers with a (moderately)high wisdom.


Josh M. wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:


The best games are the ones where the DM embraces the rails, while giving the PCs the illusion of wide-open choice.

Um, wow. This speaks volumes. Hey, if your players are cool with knowing their choices make absolutely zero impact on the story, then it's all good. The fun is what counts, and if playing from scripts are what you guys find fun, then you have my blessing.

I played a short stint with a new group last fall that were like that; the DM had a railroad game so blatant, when at one point he had us on an actual train in-game, I almost cracked up. But, the other players were all for it. They practically looked to the DM for what they were supposed to be doing each round. I didn't last long in that game.

The key is the illusion. If they don't know their choices have zero impact, then it stays fun.

I like the effect of a good story in game. Character arcs, thrilling climaxes, outcomes balanced on the knife edge, good pacing, etc. But when I see behind the curtain, it all falls flat, even if the same things happen.

I find the longer I play with a GM, the more I see through the illusion. Things I loved the first time become obvious tells after awhile. But the less plotted, more open have less of the things I enjoy in the first place. It's a hard line to walk, especially when you're trying to please players with different styles and preferences.


Sorry, I'm not a fan of illusions or deceiving my players. Just opinion/preference, but I'd rather devote my time and energy to building a campaign with my players, not finding new ways to deceive them into thinking they matter.

Maybe I just have really creative players, I dunno. Just seems shady to me.


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Josh M. wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Since the discussion has turned to the influence of RPGs and literature upon each other, I have to wonder where the fighter's weak will save comes from. It's damn sure not literature, where most protagonist warriors have a will that that even the most powerful magics simply can NOT break.

I can't say for certain, but I think it's a stat balance ideal, such as a Fighter being so powerful physically, that the balance would be that his mind is less powerful. I've also read(but now I'm drawing a blank) all manner of warrior-type characters, whom magic was their weakness; they could crush any other opponent in the physical arena, but they were all but helpless against something that doesn't target their body, but their mind.

I'm literally pulling this out of thin air, but it's just how it my brain justifies it.

I've often thought that might be a partial cure for the weakness of the fighter. Why shouldn't they have 2 good saves? It's not like fighters are so overpowered they need to be balanced with lousy saves.


thejeff wrote:
Josh M. wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:
Since the discussion has turned to the influence of RPGs and literature upon each other, I have to wonder where the fighter's weak will save comes from. It's damn sure not literature, where most protagonist warriors have a will that that even the most powerful magics simply can NOT break.

I can't say for certain, but I think it's a stat balance ideal, such as a Fighter being so powerful physically, that the balance would be that his mind is less powerful. I've also read(but now I'm drawing a blank) all manner of warrior-type characters, whom magic was their weakness; they could crush any other opponent in the physical arena, but they were all but helpless against something that doesn't target their body, but their mind.

I'm literally pulling this out of thin air, but it's just how it my brain justifies it.

I've often thought that might be a partial cure for the weakness of the fighter. Why shouldn't they have 2 good saves? It's not like fighters are so overpowered they need to be balanced with lousy saves.

That and a couple more of skills is all want for the fighter.


Josh M. wrote:

Sorry, I'm not a fan of illusions and deceiving my players. Just opinion/preference, but I'd rather devote my item and energy to building a campaign with my players, not finding new ways to deceive them into thinking they matter.

Maybe I just have really creative players, I dunno. Just seems shady to me.

Personal preference.

As I said, as a player, I like a lot of the effects of a narrative approach in terms of dramatic tension, pacing etc. I like the game to feel like a good story.
I also like to feel like I have control over what I do and that my actions affect how it plays out.
I'm also pretty good at picking up on the railroading and seeing through the illusion, even if I don't really want to.

Those goals are in conflict and I find that frustrating.

In order of preference:
A) Completely unrailroaded character driven game that has good plot structure, no inappropriate anti-climaxes etc.
B) Apparently character driven game that has good plot structure, no inappropriate anti-climaxes etc, with the rails hidden well enough that I can't seem them. From the players POV, indistinguishable from A.
C) Character driven game without plot structure
D) Game with plot structure due to obvious rails.
E) Rails and no plot

Qadira

Bluenose wrote:
Both for the statement that magic is more powerful in most fantasy worlds,

Well it would be easier to list those worlds where that's not the case. I'm sure there must be one somewhere, but unluckily I don't know it yet.

Quote:
and that a lot of players try to emulate those.

to wanna play in such a world is the starting point for nearly everyone I guess, but I'll be content and point to the huge success D&D was and still is in the form of Pathfinder/4E.

Quote:
Please try to bring in Appendix N

Really? Appendix N. Point proven.

Quote:
I'd also like your opinion on whether previous editions had the same "balance" as 3.x, paying particular attention to saving throws, and why you think that changed. Because you see, if there are demonstrable differences between the editions then clearly the things they're trying to simulate (if they're trying to simulate anything) would be different.

Well I discussed that elsewhere (unluckly in german, so there's little sense to link it here), and I'm actually convinced that this is the case. I don't think that AD&D 2nd, 3.X or 4E really try to emulate the books listed in Appendix N. So I actually agree with your conclusion.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Aubrey the Malformed wrote:

OK - first off, are you really sure you weren't supposed to pull that sword? Secondly, it is true that there are a number of rails. However, do those rails lead off in wildly different directions, or do they diverge a bit before coming back to the place you were heading to anyway? I'm not really that interested in your experiences as a player, I'm interested in your experiences as a DM as that is actually relevant as to whether you actually really were not being railroaded, or actually you were being railroaded and just didn't notice (i.e. the DM planned for a contingency, and ran with it). How would you know?

And anyway, I also object to this one-dimensional notion that not railroading is the holy grail of DM'ing. The holy grail of DM'ing is happy, engaged players. If you give players either (1) choice or (2) the illusion of choice, if the illusion is good then it doesn't matter. To some extent (2) requires a degree of improvisational ability, but also cunning, forward planning and subterfuge. I think it is a perfectly valid way to approach a game as a DM, and in my experience it is one to which players react well. It's a question of playstyle. After all, giving players choice but being crap at roleplaying, not knowing the rules, being bad at encounter design, communicating badly and so on, means you are probably still a poor DM. Most of those are probably more important, frankly, than railroading.

I know this wasn't directed towards me but I felt like replying anyways. :)

For me I do personally run things where following the rails is a option. I tend to run games with several plot hooks and let the PC's do what ever they want. If they follow or stay on the rails of a major plot hook, great. If they get off the train(on the rails) and go off in a totally new direction, like take a ship across the ocean to a new country and land, thats great too. Doesn't matter to me in the end it is the journey that is important not the destination, to steal a idea paraphrased.

So me personally if I was running something with a sword that freed the big bad and the PC's where suppose to stop it and not release them. I would totally roll with letting them pull the sword and then just develop the world and plot from this new dramatic change.

But then I am a strong believer in the world is a dynamic, changing place and that the PC's are not the center of it. Major players in the world sure but not the center of it. I have NPC's good and evil with aggenda's and they work towards those goals, baring the PC's doing things to get in the way they eventually accomplish those goals. Or to put it another way with the rail metaphor. The PC's can get off the train(the plot/story) at any time and go chase jack rabbits, but eventually that train will go down those rails and reach the station and since the BBEG is the one driving the train bad things will happen. Unless the PC's stop the train from getting there.

Now for your second point, I totally agree it is all about play styles. I don't claim mine is the best, only that it works for me and my gaming group and regardless who is running we all run in a similar style and it is the style I prefer. Some of my personal favorite games have been when as a PC we failed to stop a major plot and then have to deal with the new aftermath, after the villain has accomplished their goals and we try to put things right.

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