A bit old, but I've been gone awhile. This is a misconception about me that I really need to correct though.
GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:Reducing table variation requires limiting player agency, but without player agency, what point is there in playing? For that reason, and the lack of any reason to avoid table variation (seriously, the only reason I can think of anyone would want no table variation woukd be marketers trying to pretend that experience at the table is somehow related to brand and therefore want brand consistency. This is idiotic though, experience at the table is about 60% gm and 30% other players.), I simply and absolutely find restricting table variation to be a very bad design goal.
And I very much disagree with this.
I want to reduce table variation when I GM and I want reduced table variation at the tables that I play at because I want to expect what my character's capabilities are and to not be blind-sided by a GM's personal opinion about how the 'real world works' whether I play at my FLGS, on PbP, or at GenCon.
And while this is just my personal taste and not a morale judgement, I can see that I want to avoid GM DLH's tables.
This is not at all what I mean by table variation. This is what I'd call in-world consistancy and has nothing to do with the variation I'd like to have. This is why I regarded the cantrip in question as being in need of fixing.
The mechanic was written without consideration for what it actually represented, and therefore, it leads to this very type of inconsistency precisely because it relies on the gm to make a judgement call that could go either way.
Table variation is basically things like video game vs interactive novel, penny packet enemies with no larger strategy vs Tucker's Kobolds, cooperative storywriting vs writer-to-reader type of experience. To me, a campaign about the PCs being ordinary people on the run from an axe murderer is a completely valid campaign, despite the unfortunately common beliefs that PCs must be superheroes with "adventurer"/wanderer as their occupation.
The item takes 1d6 damage, as does the target. Clearly the item is striking the target.
First, if the object takes dmg, then why is there a question about using a vial of something dangerous?
Second, despite the above, you still get a problem. A feather needs to be moving significantly faster at a much higher energy than a pebble to do similar dmg, both because the smaller mass and also the broader striking area.
However, a light spell doesn't do anything to an object, rather it simply is attached to a carrier object. If you consider the cantrip in question to be a similar case of a magic effect that is merely attached to a physical object, then the consistent dmg to both target and object can be reasonably explained as the magic effect telekinetically moving, then twisting and exploding towards the target (much like a copper armor piercing effect that perverts the copper cone making the back into the front), dmging the carrier object and the target in a consistent fashion regardless of carrier object.
This would indeed break a vial, yet the dmg itself wouldn't be from what object carried the effect.
I don't think 'agency' is what you are saying it is, because to me it seems like you are advocating just making it all up on the fly, in which case we're moving more into a freeform storytelling experience - either we have mechanics or we don't.
This is so very wrong. The use of mechanics is NOT black-and-white. Frankly, roleplaying as opposed to rollplaying, is a freeform experience with a set of well defined terms to make communication easier and to add some randomizing structures to enhance tension and uncertainty while removing the single worst source of player-gm animosity (that being the gm arbitrarily deciding success/failure on everything).
Just because you have some mechanics does not mean that everyone must treat them like a boardgame.
Like mentioned above, players need to be able to accurately judge what they are capable of (in-so-far as their characters can make such judgements anyway), and stats are the single best way to achieve that even if you never rolled a single die.