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Monday, November 6, 2017

Bad Advice at RPGNET - The Starting Gate: New Player/GM Help Commentary Two

Bad Advice at RPGNET -  The Starting Gate: New Player/GM Help dispensing bad advice to newbies, it's what RPGNET does.

So let's go back to where I left off in my previous post, [Essay Section] Fundamentals Of Tabletop Roleplaying and in the next paragraph the moderator says this,
Now, we might not agree on just how tough your character is, or how sneaky, and those matter, so I get you to describe your dragon a bit more, and we figure some way of resolving it (rolling dice, say) so we don’t end up bickering. We’ll bias things in your favour if your dragon is good at sneaking and fighting, or against you if your dragon is bad at those things. In the interests of being fair, we’ll try to codify how we did it this time, and write it down, so that we can keep it in mind for the next time that character has to scout something out; it’s good to be consistent. And we’ll make up a few other rules to make it feel more like being a dragon.
You are the ref, why don't you just do a write up of the dragon character the way you want it to work in your campaign. Just go back to the basics, it is your campaign and the players can play anything they want but your job is to decide what it can do at level 1, level 2 and so on and so forth. And you know what makes it feel like a dragon, how the player plays the character not a bunch of extra rules. If the player is so lacking in imagination that he plays the dragon the same as his last 20 fighters or whatever he always plays then the rules are irrelevant, but if the player has imagination, what you get will be unique.

Then he goes on to,
As you might expect, the situations tend to get a lot more complex - a simple situation like the dragon hunters won’t last us long unless there's a lot more to it than it appears, and building more involved ones is a bit of a trick, but one that can be managed easily enough. 
Instead of letting play develop on its own as the players and the ref's characters interact and react, this guy wants to write it all out up front, so you know, he can keep everyone on the railroad. A game takes on a life of its own if you just play it and don't try to force it into specific preformulated paths, but allow it to find its own path, its own identity. Putting shackles on everything is not the way to have something worth remembering and talking about.

Some parts of the essay are pretty good or at least not bad, but here he goes off the deep end again,
Balancing The Game. Characters can often be specialized in very different activities. It’s important for a Guide to attempt to provide opportunities which will make the different kinds of characters that the players choose to play equally viable. Getting a good balance is all about providing opportunities for every character to enjoy their chosen traits and specialities; as a Guide, always keep this in mind – a “balanced engine” won't correct for it if all the challenges you throw out there are oriented to one or two specialities.
Balance has no place in the game, balance is about making sure that in every encounters everyone gets the same amount of face time and that everyone always wins and no one dies, it is about taking the challenge and risk out of things. Balance another way of saying guaranteed victory with the refs thumb firmly on the scale. Balance is for a murderhobo game, not for a game where players are expected to be able to think, reason and make decisions and hope they made the right one.

Again I am not claiming that coddling a bunch of murderhobo munchkins through victory after victory is bad wrong fun, not at all, if that floats you boat go for it, but to tell beginners that it is the only way to go is just ridiculous. You should present the game in all its open-ended glory and then if the newbies decide to dumb it down into a mindless murderhobo game then that is their decision based on full information instead of being told that is the default setting and don't change it.

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