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Author Topic: Old school questions  (Read 3575 times)

Zalman

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Old school questions
« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2020, 11:36:58 am »
Quote from: hedgehobbit;1145244
Personally, I would never tell a player that they can't play for 5 sessions. If you are going to use training, and I wouldn't recommend it, then you should just advance the game clock by the amount of time that the training takes.

In my experience, this old-school approach never required that player was to be excluded for a number of sessions, only that a character would be. The player would just bring one of their many other characters along in the meantime.
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WillInNewHaven

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« Reply #31 on: August 17, 2020, 02:02:15 pm »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1145130
No I mean that instead of just 4 steady players that are the party and always show up, I'll have a pool of say 30 players, who can show up if they want to go into the dungeon that night. It won't have to be the same players every time. Of course the limit of people for each particular night would be around 5.

See in the last 5 years I've been DMing I've inducted about 130 players into the game, and I have been trying to think of a way to play with all of them instead of only selecting a few for a game now and then. This is my answer. 1 DM, open group of players.


That quality is old-school. I am not sure 5e is the best system to use but it is the way to attract the most players. Tell us how it works out in practical terms.

HappyDaze

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« Reply #32 on: August 17, 2020, 03:20:52 pm »
Quote from: WillInNewHaven;1145275
That quality is old-school. I am not sure 5e is the best system to use but it is the way to attract the most players. Tell us how it works out in practical terms.

It works for the 5e organized play, but whether that's a desirable outcome is very subjective.

Zalman

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« Reply #33 on: August 18, 2020, 09:56:15 am »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1145111
It's funny you guys bring up "open table" play. That was the kind of game I want to run: a 5e game where it's an open table, with different players able to show up each session, where the players mostly are responsible for driving when we play (aside from me making available when I'm free), and that's gold-for-xp based. The thing is, to make this kind of game work you need the full gamut of rules that support it.


I wonder what you mean by "a full gamut" here, and why you think that is a necessary component of having rotating players. Don't all games need rules? Don't all games have rules? (Except TEGWAR of course!). How does player rotation require an increased volume of rules?

In my experience, one of the things that facilitates easy player swap on a weekly basis is specifically a lack of complex rules. Players that show up irregularly seem to do best with the simplest rule systems, since they're not necessarily as immersed in those rulesets as weekly players (and certainly not as much as the DM).

More to the point -- the way Old School games were actually played back in my day -- players rarely knew the rules at all, at least at first. They played their character, in the story, and the DM laid out what rolls were needed along the way. Eventually, if you played enough, you started to get the rules, but that knowledge grew organically through play.
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mAcular Chaotic

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« Reply #34 on: August 18, 2020, 12:41:34 pm »
Another question:

I heard wizard gets their spell via RNG. Offensive, defensive, utility lists?

Do other magic users get it that way too, like cleric?
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mAcular Chaotic

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« Reply #35 on: August 18, 2020, 12:42:39 pm »
Quote from: Zalman;1145358
I wonder what you mean by "a full gamut" here, and why you think that is a necessary component of having rotating players. Don't all games need rules? Don't all games have rules? (Except TEGWAR of course!). How does player rotation require an increased volume of rules?

In my experience, one of the things that facilitates easy player swap on a weekly basis is specifically a lack of complex rules. Players that show up irregularly seem to do best with the simplest rule systems, since they're not necessarily as immersed in those rulesets as weekly players (and certainly not as much as the DM).

More to the point -- the way Old School games were actually played back in my day -- players rarely knew the rules at all, at least at first. They played their character, in the story, and the DM laid out what rolls were needed along the way. Eventually, if you played enough, you started to get the rules, but that knowledge grew organically through play.

Not more rules on the player side -- but more rules on the DM side. For instance, 5e (and 3e/4e) drop all the support for "dungeon turns" or how to explore things. Everything is just left up in the air to DM fiat, and these are players and DMs with no previous experience how to do it. So a lot of time and effort goes into reinventing the wheel, and that's if you're lucky. In reality everyone just skips the old dungeon exploration parts of the game because they don't even know it exists because the game has nothing about it.

In dungeons the absence of these rules creates lots of problems for DMs. If you check reddit you'll see tons of threads about how players try to spam checks, or inspect every square foot of the dungeon and basically trivialize traps, and how to deal with it all -- well, this is all fixed by having dungeon turns and wandering monsters and so forth. DMs can import these rules, and I do so myself from reading up on how it used to be done, but it's even better to add even more in. This way there's a REASON not to just take forever and try to take every single item that's not nailed down (a lot of games don't use encumbrance either, or it's downplayed by the system) and spend 4 hours IRL nitpicking over whether a trap is in a 10 x 10 square area.

Here's a perfect example I just found while reading Old School Essentials: even though I use marching order, dungeon turns, encumbrance, and so forth, there are still parts of the game that become too game-y and weird, such as when the players just put their toughest character in the front and almost deliberately march them over the traps because they know they can just heal them.

Well, reading over Old School Essentials, I see they had already thought of this so long ago. If the trap doesn't trigger EVERY TIME it's stepped on but only randomly, then it's possible someone besides the frontliner gets hit, and therefore you should still be cautious. Problem solved! I can port this into 5e and fix my problem.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2020, 12:47:21 pm by mAcular Chaotic »
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EOTB

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« Reply #36 on: August 18, 2020, 12:56:18 pm »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1145391
Another question:

I heard wizard gets their spell via RNG. Offensive, defensive, utility lists?

Do other magic users get it that way too, like cleric?


In 1E (where the MU rule referenced is from) clerics and druids don't keep spellbooks and have access to every spell on the lists of a level they can cast.  It's just deciding which to memorize.  There's also some bits that if their god is taking an active hand for some reason they can change the spells from those requested that day, but I don't see DMs do that.  Mainly a theoretical footnote.

Illusionists' three starting spells are just rolled randomly.  I think there ended up a similar optional breakdown of offensive, defensive, utility, published in dragon or UA, but I don't use it

I highly recommend reading the 1E DMG if you want to run "old school"
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« Reply #37 on: August 18, 2020, 01:38:37 pm »
Quote from: Cloyer Bulse;1145206
There is no such rule. No upper limit is specified, it says "equal to or greater than", not "equal to".



Nevertheless, if a 1st level fighter receives 10,000 g.p. but only 2,000 x.p. (the minimum necessary for level 2), then he is getting 1 x.p. per 5 g.p. at the DM's discretion. No x.p. have been lost.

Rather than saying that x.p. are "lost", which infers that there is something wrong due to slavishly following rules, it is more correct to say that the character has received the correct amount of x.p. as judged by the DM.

Still, if a 1st level party were to take a wrong turn and find themselves on the 4th dungeon level, and they were to somehow make it back to the surface alive with an overabundance of loot due to superior play, I would not begrudge excessive x.p. being "banked" so as to quicken the gaining of the next level. This is an appropriate bonus which is much less arbitrary than story awards.


I seem to remember the character only keeping Experience Points equal to 1 point shy of the next level; so a 1st level fighter who earned 10,000 XP would only keep 3,999, as 4,000 was 3rd level.

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« Reply #38 on: August 18, 2020, 05:38:51 pm »
Quote from: Shardenzar;1145399
I seem to remember the character only keeping Experience Points equal to 1 point shy of the next level; so a 1st level fighter who earned 10,000 XP would only keep 3,999, as 4,000 was 3rd level.
The few times it ever came up, that's exactly what how we handled it. When it came up it was always in the context of very low level characters in a mixed level party with fairly high level characters.
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Kyle Aaron

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« Reply #39 on: August 22, 2020, 05:30:34 am »
From the man at Twenty-Sided Tale, The gameplay is the story

Quote from: Shamus Young
What usually ends up happening is that the writer will come up with a standard Hollywood style script, and then cut it up into fixed cutscenes so the game designer can stick gameplay bits between them. The result is basically what you'd expect from that description: A bifurcated experience where the two halves feel like they're at odds with each other. I've heard people coming from gamedev schools describe this design style as "a book with the pages glued together". Gameplay becomes a tool to advance the story without being a part of it. Yes, getting the next page un-stuck is a challenge, but that challenge isn't acknowledged by the writer as part of the story.


Relevant to this thread,

Quote
The problem is that gameplay doesn't typically allow for setbacks. If the player screws up and dies, a story-based game will generally retcon the mistake away. Time is reset to some checkpoint and the player gets to try again. The story proceeds as if the player's mistake never happened.

This means that – canonically – the player character never loses in gameplay. Without some way to provide setbacks via cutscenes, you'd wind up with a story where the protagonist is infallible. Yes, the Gameplay is The Story, but the corollary to that is that the Audience is the Protagonist, and how the hell is the author supposed to write a story where they can't control the main character?


and this is why in an old school game, the player-characters must be able to die, irrevocably die, kaput. Because if you won't let them die, you won't let them fail substantially in any other way, either. And if they can never fail, then they're not really playing the game, they're just rolling some dice between cutscenes.

It's not a game unless the outcome is in doubt. The purpose of all those dice and rules is to put the outcome in doubt. If you take away nothing else from these discussions: if you want to play old school, you must let them die.
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Bren

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« Reply #40 on: August 22, 2020, 11:04:32 am »
Quote from: Kyle Aaron;1145978
From the man at Twenty-Sided Tale, if you want to play old school, you must let them die.
I agree.

Quote
Because if you won't let them die, you won't let them fail substantially in any other way, either.
But this is just flat out wrong.
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mAcular Chaotic

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« Reply #41 on: August 22, 2020, 05:45:56 pm »
I am all for letting players die. I wonder about "half steps" though, like, instead of dying, you lose an arm or a leg or something.

It leaves a lasting consequence but you get to keep the character and try again. But I also see a lot of players act like the character is basically useless at that point and better off dead. So maybe just a clean death is better after all?
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« Reply #42 on: August 22, 2020, 05:50:21 pm »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1146014
I am all for letting players die. I wonder about "half steps" though, like, instead of dying, you lose an arm or a leg or something.



Damn, you guys are frickin' harsh!!

...all I do is kill or maim a character every now and then.
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mAcular Chaotic

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« Reply #43 on: August 22, 2020, 06:04:57 pm »
Nobody is safe!!!
Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.

Steven Mitchell

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« Reply #44 on: August 23, 2020, 12:04:08 am »
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1146014
I am all for letting players die. I wonder about "half steps" though, like, instead of dying, you lose an arm or a leg or something.

It leaves a lasting consequence but you get to keep the character and try again. But I also see a lot of players act like the character is basically useless at that point and better off dead. So maybe just a clean death is better after all?


It's really more about whatever the consequences for the game are supposed to be, you'd better follow through.

If you are playing Toon, then characters can't die.  They can get "boggled" and lose a turn, which could cause them to lose the game.  If you start feeling sorry for Sally because her cartoon Sammy the Snail lost a race again, got hit by an ACME hammer, fell off a cliff, and got boggled, so you decide as GM that she doesn't have to be boggled this time--you are playing it wrong.  

It would be difficult to wimp out on Toon but given the extremes that some of the players will go to now, I think a few could somehow manage that questionable feat.

If you are playing a version of D&D that is supposed to be per the straight old school rules, about relatively weak characters going into very dangerous holes in the ground with their lives on the line, then when things go bad enough, they'd better die.  If you are doing a somewhat different game about those same characters coming out of the holes in the ground, usually, but scarred for life (physically and mentally), then damn it, when they fail, they'd better lose digits and develop interesting twitches.

Whatever game we say we are playing, that's the game I'm playing.  We aren't playing Toon mortality with D&D characters and all pretending that death was a possibility when it wasn't, like sitting under an old sheet with a flashlight and saying "ooooooh" and pretending that everyone is scared.