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12:26 AM
@Tophandour It's completely unhelpful to you, but your problem seems to me as though it's part of the wider problem with improvised campaigns - it's really difficult to avoid tailoring challenges to your party.
12:39 AM
Heh. Isn't the point of improvised campaigns to tailor things for the group?
The difficulty lies in systems and attitudes that make success or failure into on/off switches instead of tools for pushing the story forward.
"You found the trap" doesn't have to mean "And so it is not a threat," any more than "You didn't notice the trap" doesn't have to mean "And now you are dead."
In my Umdaar games, I haven't been giving my players any rolls to notice traps, because getting caught by slow-moving death traps so you can escape from them is a major part of the genre.
@BESW @Miniman I would agree that tailoring them to your party is the whole point. What're you going to do, tailor them to some other party? To nobody at all?
@BESW @doppelgreener Sure. But if your players, for example, have only a single damage type, then giving them monsters immune to that damage type is unfair, but deliberately avoiding giving them monsters immune to that damage type is also unfair.
I don't know 5e very well and I'm far outside the D&D mindset these days, so I'm not sure if this is appropriate, but here's an idea to reward noticing traps without trivialising them: If you succeed on noticing a trap, you can grant advantage to the first roll anyone makes to deal with it.
@Miniman Depends on how you use each. If you give them monsters immune to whatever damage the party can do, don't use them as conventional creatures you fight and beat and win. The GM will need to do some telegraphing, and use them differently to regular enemies.
(I don't think the way you describe that situation, as unfair to use them and unfair to not, is a very helpful way to look at things, so I'm going to leave that aside and not engage in the matter of fairness.)
@BESW That sounds pretty good.
(though I was never much into the D&D mindset)
12:55 AM
At what point does it stop being fair or unfair to customise encounters to your group, though? If the party's level one, is it unfair to keep the Tarrasque off the random encounter list for their starting area?
So... yeah, I'm not sure that's a useful rubric.
Maybe we can say it's about fun, that many groups would find it more fun to occasionally face enemies they can't defeat with normal means.
Depends on your definition of "customise". Or, degree of customisation. Is level-appropriate encounters customisation? Is catering to party's strengths and/or weaknesses customisation?
(This weekend we faced a ghost who was immune to physical attacks, but vulnerable to light. So we modified a lightning gun to make it a lighting gun, filled the ghost's zone with glittery metal confetti, and turned the forest into a disco for a round.)
@BESW That's the rubric I was going to suggest as well. Overall it's not about whether the enemies are fair or not, it's about whether the experience is fun (which covers factors such as whether it felt challenging, whether it felt fair, etc). Keeping things varied is part of that fun. Exposing the party to their weaknesses, and giving them clever things to do to overcome them, is also fun.
I've read some "how to GM a sandbox" articles - some say that you should decide the types of encounters in each area ahead of time, incrementing in difficulty as you fan out from the starting area. If the PCs get in over their heads, then they'll have to try and escape back to safer areas. Others say you should ramp up the difficulty based on party level.
My own method for "how to GM a sandbox" involves step 1 being "choose a system amenable to fast improvisation from absolutely nothing", in which games like Roll for Shoes and Great Ork Gods and Fate are candidates, and games like D&D are not.
(that's not targeted at D&D specifically either - there's a number of games I love to bits that I wouldn't use for a sandbox)
If I had, say, a party with 100% sharp weapons and no capacity for bludgeoning damage, and I was going to use things like skeletons who're immune to that stuff, I'd send them into some sandswept tombs, and set things up with the skeletons as creatures to avoid or trick or take advantage of while they solve puzzles and creep around and discover new things.
And, probably somewhere near the end, I'd give them a +1 Club of Skeleton Bludgeoning and a +1 Mace of Bone Grinding and a Wand of Make Skeletons Explode and let them enjoy themselves as things reach the final act.
1:18 AM
PSA: There's a shiny new Literature proposal on Area 51 which needs your help! The previous one was closed after a year, but it's still kickin'. It needs your help to live!
I have contributed a question and followed it.
The passive perception question is... interesting. I find particularly amusing the suggestion at the end of the current answer to fix the predictability of passive perception with active trap-hiding.
Also, is there something special about passive Perception in 5e? In 4e, there was no way to buff it specifically, you just upped your Perception. So there was no way to end up with "on average ... much better results with their passive perception".
@Magician There's a few ways to boost passive but not active Perception.
To the point where you could feasibly have a higher score for passive Perception than you could ever roll with an active Perception check.
1:30 AM
Good old D&D.
It is sometimes possible to cheese a particular component of the system so much, there's no way to fail at it anymore. At which point there's no sense of engaging with it. It's self-defeating.
In our 4e game, we've had an archmage with Arcane check so high, he couldn't fail hardest DC. Just wasn't an option. And of course, one can up the DC even further, but then that leaves other party members scratching their heads.
Similarly, we briefly had a paladin who had +9 to saves, making it impossible for him to fail one without some sort of special penalty. And when he succeeded at a save, everyone else got the same bonus. He effectively made save ends effects pointless.
2:22 AM
@Magician what stops the DM from creating challenges with arbitrarily high DCs? o.O
@doppelgreener also, how does a party have no capacity to bludgeon things?
2:39 AM
At least with this issue it isn't killing the game for us
> GM: Out of the corner of your eye, you spot a thief stealing the favourite weapon of that governor you hate. What do you do?
Player: Oh no I don't. [rolls with abysmal active perception modifier]
GM: What?
Player: I don't notice him at all. Look at that.
GM: [checks notes] ... You're completely oblivious. How convenient! Now even a truthsayer won't be able to fault you. The weapon's gone!
It's just a thing that I thought I could handle better
Everyone's happy in general
@Shalvenay I think you can figure that one out yourself. 1d4 damage might not count for very much.
@Tophandour the Perception-issue?
2:41 AM
@doppelgreener 1d4 isn't great, no...but it's better than 0.
Of course! But not much better than 0. We are in context talking about having enemies that are more or less immune to what the players can do, though, or immune enough as makes no difference as to how technically not-immune they are.
@Tophandour my only thought on that one was that having time pressure--rushing through an area--and the associated -5 to passive could make things interesting
hey again @nitsua60 btw :) how're things going?
but I do like the idea of rolling a Deception (Int) check to represent the designer's skill
@Shalvenay pretty good, thanks. you?
@nitsua60 fine here, in my weekly 3.5e game
2:42 AM
Yeah, I hadn't thought of the skill roll for making traps, I really like that idea
@Shalvenay just got off my last duty for the weekend
Makes it less of just me arbitrarily deciding if the party will find something or not :p
@Tophandour it also provides much-needed prodding for me in the dungeon-building arena
"gotta design six traps" is a much more daunting task for me than "three ho-hum traps, an obvious one, a hard one, and an impossible one!"
traps & secret doors are suchh a wierd thing, anyway
I always put myself in the designer's mind, and from that point of view so many of the traps you see published are just nonsensical
Man, I'm glad I'm not playing with my player that wanted passive investigation to work for as much as passive perception
She basically wanted to not only spot every trap but also instantly know how to disarm it
got it
2:47 AM
It was a pain
She doesn't play with us any more
I almost think of passive investigation akin to staircase wit
you've put things together in the back of your mind, without noticing...
but not until just after the right moment's passed
I ruled that she would have to notice something first so the clues would have to be readily apparent
But she got mad because she decided that it made rogues too dependent on too many attributes
@Tophandour got mad because of MAD.
And she disliked having someone point out clues to her and ask her what they meant
but seriously, on traps: what are the purposes (in-game) that they serve?
2:50 AM
@nitsua60 generally, slowing down the party
Yeah, I was actually trying to not write MAD twice :p
alarm/warning, slow down/stop, kill
Drain resources, present challenge
Make them think
@nitsua60 or, if you're really kooky, you can put "un-traps" in a dungeon
but in-game. Put yourself in the mind of the real estate owner.
2:51 AM
one perennial idea of mine is a giant pit full of foamy stuff with the door to the next part of the dungeon at the bottom
Sometimes I tell them how a trap works but ask them to engineer a way to circumvent it
If they pass the checks, etc
but yes, a trap in-universe might be something that'll slow the party down, alarm people to the party's presence, or dissuade them from progressing further
slowing down party, drain resources, present challenge all strike me as table-reasons to put in a trap.
You mean in world reasons?
alarm, detain (indefinitely), kill (definitely)
why bother with a trap that isn't up to the job?
@Tophandour yeah to this
2:54 AM
@nitsua60 slowing attackers down is a legitimate defense tool -- it gives the defender time to prepare a response
Party could be too powerful for the creators to have foreseen. Trap could easily kill any random looter
But a 12th level party is hard to prepare for without spending a ton of money
@Tophandour yeah, exactly -- the traps in say a tomb would be targeting random grave robbers, for instance
(although they can also be very aggravating if you're a paladin chasing grave robbers off, depending on where they've been placed)
Of course, some people do have that much power and wealth so they prepare traps that would just vaporize anything
right, in which case why even check? the odds that a trap, out in the world, is at a level that it's not either insta-kill or idiotically-obvious to adventurers seem miniscule
@nitsua60 because what is obvious to one person is not noticeable to the next.
@nitsua60 the simplest possible pit trap might be glaringly obvious to a ranger, but practically invisible to a city-dwelling sorceress
2:57 AM
okay. say you're the party sneaking into my mansion to find my secret plans to take over the city
@nitsua60 likewise, a druid might not be familiar enough with trapped locks to notice what's going on with them, but any rogue would figure them out in a heartbeat
@nitsua60 also, you can catch people trying to go quickly
right--speed's the factor!
as EGG himself put it, any session where strict records of time aren't kept isn't even worth playing
I've got traps in my mansion.
If you strike a light and walk at casual pace you will find and disarm/avoid all my traps.
And my guards will have time to know that you're there and get into your path.
If you don't strike the light and you rush, you trip all the traps.
I have a hard time seeing a middle ground
(and, therefore, have a hard time seeing the reason to ever roll the dice)
the rules also have to account for tactical trap deployment
not just strategic trap emplacements
(I guess I'm missing the grey zone where you're rushing, but one of you is keen enough to notice and now have to make the decision whether to pause and deal rather than blunder through)
@Shalvenay good distinction
You have to move slowly either way because moving quickly gives disadvantage
3:04 AM
because I've seen parties (in a NWN server, but still) deploy traps themselves mid-dungeon to try to gain an edge in a hard fight
but what tactical trap--read: quickly deployed, possibly even improvised--wouldn't have a DC of 5? and low-to-moderate impact?
(not trying to get argumentative--just sincerely baffled why publishers have always felt every map needed so many traps and secret doors)
@nitsua60 I can think of a RL example that serves as a counterexample to the second criterion -- a claymore mine -- OW.
placed properly, it'd definitely be a DC of more than 5, too
that one's designed to kill you
but I feel like 'notice-or-die' is pretty frowned-upon
that's the sort that starts to make sense to me, though
Glyph of BOOM
(and Glyph of Greater BOOM)
@nitsua60 I'm kinda baffled by that myself -- the reason my 3.5e dungeon is trap-heavy is because that's the point of the dungeon, but when manually designing dungeons, I tend to be trap-averse, because of the trouble traps cause for the residents
what do you mean "the point of the dungeon?" players asked for a trap-adventure?
3:11 AM
Basically for me, some trap creators think they hid a trap well but a super observant party comes along and detects it. Or, they don't and get hit and decide to start rolling because they have a potential for a higher max
@Tophandour to me then it comes down to speed:
@nitsua60 it's meant to be a combat-light, trap-heavy design -- more for utility-belt mages and rogues than say a barbarian :)
(imo) it's only a good part of the game if the decision whether or not to take time dealing with traps is consequential
@nitsua60 also, traps can be unintentional :P
consider the dungeon whose first trap--either sprung or disarmed!--sounds the alarm.
now we (the party) have to decide whether allowing opposing forces the time to set up is worth disarming more traps
and now we either rush headlong into traps that can be lethal if not dealt with,
or into a well-prepared ambush
@Shalvenay like what?
3:17 AM
@nitsua60 take a metal door. pinch a live extension cord in the hinge side. open and close for a while....
@Shalvenay why "is it meant to be"? You getting bored with combat? You want to be able to spotlight different players?
@nitsua60 it's meant to be a non-combat-centric dungeon, yes :)
@Shalvenay I guess I wasn't thinking of "unsafe conditions" in the same vein as traps
@nitsua60 they wind up using the same mechanics :)
so, in-world, what is the purpose of the structure?
(do you mind if I dig in and ask some questions so's to get a better idea of how others think of it?)
3:19 AM
@nitsua60 in-world, a blue half-dragon sorc got a really good deal on a wizard's tower, but found out after he moved in that gremlins have been messing it up
so why's HD sorc setting the traps? Alarm, detain, detour, kill, other?
What does landlord want to have happen when trespassers come?
They die or leave
also, monster of the day: "abysshound" -- like a hellhound, but coming from the abyss instead
@nitsua60 it's the gremlins that are setting the traps so they can point and laugh at the victims
so, amusement?
(injury or death to victims being a bonus, and yes! vexgits find this amusing indeed)
3:22 AM
okay, then that's a motive I've never considered...
nuisance traps
@nitsua60 (the HD sorc is 1) immune to them, and 2) doesn't want gremlins in his dungeon to begin with)
@nitsua60 yes
I mean, in my experience most published traps are nuisances, but I hadn't considered that actually being the intent
[is that how one spells / new-sens /?]
Sometimes dungeons are meant to test the worthy
@Tophandour meant by whom?
@Shalvenay Nothing, other than the fact that both GM and player know how high the suggested DCs table goes. As little as those numbers mean in-game in 4e, there's still a "hard DC for level 30", and if the DCs I set are routinely 10 points higher (so that the player actually needs to roll), well, what was the point of them putting all those abilities into the skill?
Plus, no one else can hit anywhere near those numbers in skills, and running a skill challenge with "DC 50 for your task, DC 40 for yours" is a bit silly, for the same reasons.
3:26 AM
@nitsua60 spelling is correct
@Magician can I ask a little 4e help: are skills rankable in 4e?
Er, you can try, it's been years since I've touched it.
(i.e. does one repeatedly choose whether to assign some currency to one skill over another?)
Ah, no. You are either trained in a skill or not, end of story. Difference is +5.
got it. and how does one acquire training?
3:27 AM
But one can take a feat, and an Epic Destiny, and a magic item....
Usually a class will say you're trained in X skills.
to buff an individial skill?
@nitsua60 yup.
does the ability to do those things depend on trained-or-not?
I mean for example a sword meant to save the realm but the creator only wants powerful and skillful warriors to find it so the traps are meant to scare off anyone too weak but not flat out kill people that could be strong enough.
@nitsua60 For some skills, like Arcana.
3:28 AM
Sorry, on mobile
@Tophandour so a new trap for my trapsonomy: high-pass filter
@nitsua60 Do what things? Some skills have trained-only mechanics attached, if that's what you're asking. All of them (I believe) have things you can do with them while untrained.
@doppelgreener just trying to wrap my head around "a player invests a lot in skill X" What's being invested? What's the opportunity cost of that investment? (Never having played, I don't think, 4e)
@Tophandour of course, filter's actually a top-level reason, generally, on inside-knowledge: those who know the secret code/path/sequence/command word get through easy, those who don't get through bloody or slow if at all
@nitsua60 As I said, a feat or two, a magic item or two, a class feature or two. Not even huge sacrifices, and not "broken" on their own, at all.
@Magician thanks
3:34 AM
@nitsua60 yeah -- interesting question: should opening a trapped lock with the key automatically render the trap inert, or should the trap require disabling as well?
@Shalvenay Depends entirely on the trap. Maybe one needs to also demonstrate knowledge to avoid it, e.g. to knock on the right spot as they turn the key.
@Magician good point..."something extra" ;)
so the final cause of the trap is to filter; the efficient causes are to alarm (setting up other responses), to detain, to detour (which may effectively detain, but may just obscure that you missed a spot!), to annoy-deter, to kill. (I'm considering "to harm" just a more-assertive version of annoy-deter)
what categories am I missing?
@nitsua60 amuse
I've been thinking a lot about traps this last half-year, stemming from thinking about mazes and how we often use them in RPGs
(prompted by this maze question )
3:40 AM
@nitsua60 ah. I actually kinda like outdoor environs when it comes to combat
@Shalvenay in that case, I have to ask what the purpose of the trap was in the first place
then I can think about what should happen when the key is presented
completely different topic: anyone here play(ed) Microscope?
@nitsua60 no
wondering if it works two-player, or if it really loses something. Seems like it might, with number of characters in scenes so limited.
4:10 AM
@Adeptus There's a big difference between "improvised campaign" and "sandbox campaign." In many ways they're almost inverses.
@Tophandour Maybe she'd be happier in a GUMSHOE style game. Or you could adopt GUMSHOE ideas for 5e.
@BESW Are they truly? Sandbox does need a lot of improvisation at least.
And improvisation lends one to being able to support the players doing whatever they want, which is what sandbox is about.
The difference lies in where the improvisations and "do what you want" is at.
Sandbox is exploring a pre-made environment. The "What you want" is how you interact with the environment.
Right. Sandbox, to my very limited understanding, is all about setting up the initial parameters of the world, and letting players explore within them.
Improvised campaigns, in the context of the discussion above, are about inventing the setting as you go.
(The original notion was about setting DCs mid-play, while a strict sandbox would have DCs pre-set.)
as an example, Just Cause 2, (the only one I played) was a great sandbox game
but at the end of the day, you still couldn't say it was something you could change, not without excessive modding anyway
you could run around blowing stuff up and capturing bases, but all that stuff already existed
you didn't put input into that
you just ran around and played with what was already there
it was fun, yes, but there is a definite difference between the two things
4:17 AM
Well, that one is also a video game, there's no such thing as improvisation in a video game. In a sandbox, not all of those details are going to be predefined.
@doppelgreener There can be sophisticated procedural generation, which is... kind of improvisation?
@doppelgreener "Sandbox" campaigns pretty much definitionally like that kind of video game.
Big open world, you can do whatever you want in it, but the world's already there.
Hm, I see. Map drawn out, cities and villages already defined, noteworthy NPCs already written up, etc?
just the small details getting improvised to fill in the gaps?
4:20 AM
Aye, and the fewer of those the better.
@doppelgreener Not necessarily even that. If the party declares they're going over yonder hill next game, GM may just prepare everything.
Well like, the GM probably can't define everything. There's always going to be small details not filled in.
The philosophy in play is that the GM at the table is serving as the conduit for an existing world, not a creator of a world on the fly.
The more the GM is able to refer to notes rather than make stuff up, the more that philosophy is achieved.
@doppelgreener Right, but in this philosophy that's seen as an unavoidable flaw.
Minimising it is desirable.
I'm curious as to how random tables fit into this. They're "fair" and predetermined, but you do pull stuff out of thin air.
My game basically works like this: I made a setting and defined where all the cities are and who is important and what the big evil people are and the party navigates that world and picks what world issue they are trying to fix
4:24 AM
@BESW I see. And the thing you and I do is improvisation, where we give ourselves some creative pillars which can let us comfortably have no world that exists before the players say "we're going to go over there" and some world over there is needed?
@Magician Ah, that's where dice as accountability buffers come into play.
And I just give clues of how to get there
@doppelgreener sandbox guide I like: batintheattic.blogspot.com/2009/08/…
Some degree of making stuff up like dungeons and stuff when the party goes somewhere I hadn't expected
4:27 AM
Given this distinction I get the feeling I should employ some sandbox strategies with this exploration & frontier game my housemate wants to play.
@doppelgreener Yeah. Remember all the work we did on your Bastion setting? That was a lot more like sandbox prep.
But in any of the areas important to the setting, I've already designed it
@BESW Right. But how far can you take it while still adhering to a sandbox philosophy? Random encounter in a forest is probably fine. You may meet bandits, or wolves, or a wyvern. They all live there. What about random generation of terrain and/or its inhabitants? Can you substitute detailed notes for detailed tables entirely?
@BESW I do! I am understanding much better now, thanks.
@Magician At that point, "sandbox" definitions become more individualised.
For myself, I think the line in the sand is where tables stop defining things that could be random in-game.
4:28 AM
@Magician for me it's "just enough randomly-determined that an idea/concept/sense-of-it-all congeals"
@BESW Like that one time I suggested in an answer "if your party's about to go in and get themselves killed and it won't be fun, modify the situation so they won't just go get themselves killed", and this is fine from my perspective, but others got up in arms in comments saying "no, this is wrong, this isn't sandbox".
It's reasonable for someone to say "I was here last week. We could run into wolves or wyverns."
then I can design a region that I'd never have thought of on my own
(Even after receiving this information I would still be comfortable having that technique show up in a sandbox game)
It's (usually) not reasonable for someone to say "I was here last week. We could find a desert or a swamp."
4:29 AM
@BESW +1
@BESW definitely -- even the randomness of W-space isn't that messed up
(Or "I was here last week. They might have a monarchy or an oligarchy.")
@doppelgreener In my experience as someone running sandbox games, the extent to which a game adheres to this philosophy is less important than the extent to which the players can pretend it does.
@BESW (except this gets to the old meaning of law-chaos, the one I like)
@BESW It's a thing that needs to be discussed beforehand. If players really-really want a strict sandbox, it's on them, and it would be a violation of trust to change things on the fly.
@BESW These forms of government just combined in my head to become a "monocle-archy". Presumably this is where the country is ruled by a guy with a monocle - very popular in comics and movies.
4:34 AM
@BESW Yeah, that's exactly my thinking. GMing involves a whole lot of illusion-work to give the players a fun space to play around in. To them, being entirely ignorant, there's no difference yet between whether the room beyond contains a black hole or just a bunch of thugs.
@Magician To my thinking, "pure" sandbox is a platonic ideal unachievable in the real world.
No one I've played with cared about when I make things up, before or during the game. Some have cared to not be the ones to make things up, as it lessened their sense of exploration.
So ANY degree of sandbox is, in the end, just a matter of how much you can fake it.
Sure. And still, one can lay out principles and adhere to them. Just like one can fudge die rolls, or not. While some players wouldn't care, some very much would.
The GM always has to exercise some degree of initiative and improvisation. The players will ask questions and go places and do things we didn't prep for. We can throw up invisible walls to say "no" to things which should be reasonable, or we can improvise.
Invisible walls destroy the illusion immediately. Improvisation has the potential for preserving it, at the cost of principle.
4:41 AM
Not disagreeing with that. But if GM wrote "Swamp, trolls, level 8" on the map, and level 2 PCs wandered there, finding level 2 goblins would be a violation of sandbox principles.
Which is the kind of thing @doppelgreener would be comfortable with, and probably so would I. But I don't really run sandbox games :)
As a GM, there is very little distinction between "I decided this a month ago" and "I decided this a minute ago" once it hits the board. I understand the theoretical value in sandbox principles, but I have never found it to be a practically useful distinction to make.
It's a practice for its own sake. The GM knows there's no functional difference and the players can't tell when it's happening or not anyway.
@BESW Neither have I. But I've seen players argue for them. It's something to do with "fairness", among other things.
I actually like doing prep work. I just think it's more fair to adjudicate it so it's suited for the situation at hand when the prep hits the table.
Sandbox "fairness" arguments seem to assume GM antagonism.
If a GM is antagonistic, he's not going to let sandbox get in the way of that.
I've also seen people argue adjusting or improvising scenes entirely effectively ruins the purpose of the game for them.
Talking playstyle goals is more useful than talking fairness, but generally people don't because "fair" places the person on the side of things that are good and right rather than on the side of things they like.
4:50 AM
@BESW Not necessarily "GM antagonism". I think "world antagonism" is a better description. Some enjoy overcoming the world. If the world changes to fit them, they didn't overcome anything.
@Magician Yeeah, when I see arguments like that, I think the person hasn't GMed much.
@Magician yeah -- some people enjoy overcoming world challenges
Usually I'm modifying my prep to be harder because I seriously underestimated my players.
At least half the time, my prep, if left to its own devices, would be a squishy stain on the PCs' bootsole.
@BESW yeah, we know that drill on our 3.5e table
And it would seem some players would be fine with that, at least occasionally. They're that good, opposition are that bad.
4:52 AM
Right. Sometimes a steamroll is good.
It is all very mysterious.
But condemning adjudication generally assumes that the GM somehow magically got it all right the first time in prep, with the proper difficulties and numbers and interesting things, and didn't have better ideas later or realise he made mistakes.
@BESW or just get into a situation that wasn't anticipated
like someone trying to throw a vexgit into the door
It says "We don't trust the GM to make mid-play decisions because he's going to mess up the prep we trust he got perfectly right."
I believe such players place more value in world... fidelity? than pacing.
4:56 AM
> I've never seen the Icarus story as a lesson on the limitations of humans. I see it as a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive. -- a quote I've just picked up from xkcd via a colleague
entirely unrelated, just sharing that.
@Magician I do place more value in world fidelity than pacing, for one
@BESW Heh. I agree that it's an arbitrary distinction, and not one I particularly value. And still, and still, it's interesting to try and understand the way others think. It's not about trust in GM. It's about knowing that the game world is real and doesn't waver as PCs walk through it. If there level 8 trolls in the swamp, there are level 8 trolls in the swamp.
I come back to the comparison with die fudging. If you roll behind a screen, there's no way for players to know if you fudged the dice or not. They can suspect, if it's done unsubtly and the luck is suddenly on their side. While some may not care to find out the GM occasionally fudges dice, others would consider that a violation of core principles of the game, making it meaningless.
Aye. Once you've seen level 8 trolls in the swamp, I'm not going to remove them without in-world justification.
As a player, once I've seen 8 trolls in the swamp, if I come back and I see no trolls in the swamp, I'm going to be very worried about what happened to the trolls - and what that means might happen to me. (Including troll ambush.)
@BESW Sure. But we're experienced GMs. We can easily find justification for why the trolls aren't there. They're sleeping, or hunting, or at an annual troll feast. Have some level-appropriate goblins instead. And the players raise their eyebrows.
I'm reminded of my brief experience with the not-so-new-anymore Tomb Raider reboot. I've watched a friend play it for half an hour. And it's very cinematic! Everything around Lara falls apart, is on fire and explodes. She runs, jumps, dodges, miraculously navigating the crumbling labyrinth of destruction. Exciting stuff. Exciting stuff that has all excitement drained out of it by the realization that things will always fall in such a way that she can make a last-second jump to safety.
It's all fake.
5:15 AM
@Magician Yeah, that game really felt like one long cutscene. Ironically enough, the quicktime events were harder to get in the actual cutscenes.
I enjoyed that game an awful lot personally.
In my game, if I write that there are trolls in the swamp and the players decide to go to the swamp, I drop hints that they might be getting in over their heads. As subtle as tracks or droppings or as blatant as a big "danger: trolls!" sign or an NPC warning them. If they go anyway, I don't feel remorse for what happens because they ignored the signs. So far, they've never ignored the signs
They've wandered into a lich and vampire lair like that before
@doppelgreener To be fair, I've only seen a tiny bit of it, and I'm told there are plenty of less constricted sequences.
@Magician Mostly only in combat - it's kind of like a typical D&D campaign in that respect :)
Occasionally I'll change something because I have a better idea or I made a mistake, but I have general dangerous areas in the world that must remain scary and dangerous (until the party levels up enough :p)
5:25 AM
@Magician As someone who plays a game for a good challenge, fun mechanics and enjoyable story and game feel, I finished that game and had a blast where many others are unenjoyable and left aside. So at least from my perspective all those boxes are ticked.
The things falling apart isn't suspenseful or anything, but it does help things feel right.
@Tophandour Heh. In the 3.5 game I am (was?) running, the party found signs of a dragon living in the deeper levels of the dungeon. So they went back to fight the (higher-CR) Roper instead... :P
(and steamrolled it, mostly due to good preparation)
I'm not sure what portion of the game you saw, though, so I can't tell you how representative it was - you might've seen just a particular segment of the game emphasising certain mechanics.
Alternately you noticed things which happen a lot but someone busy playing might not have, like me!
Entirely possible. Though somewhat similar concerns took me out of Darksiders 2 and Amnesia previously.
@Magician I haven't played Amnesia, but Darksiders 2 was decidedly less railroady than Tomb Raider. Not quite as Zelda-ish (or as good, IMO) as the first Darksiders, but still a very fun game.
@Magician Darksiders was one I couldn't enjoy particularly, probably mainly because of how it felt to play. You're a wildly powerful god. You're not in danger. You will smash the enemies to pieces, and it sure feels flashy. Everything in the Tomb Raider game helps it feel like Lara is a regular vulnerable individual who's succeeding against unfavorable odds and pushing herself to her limits to do so. Lara isn't an insanely strong person whose success is more or less guaranteed.
5:31 AM
@Miniman Yeah, it wasn't exactly the same thing. But it's full of navigating crumbled gigantic architecture, finding the one possible way through it. Far too many times, I found myself thinking that if this column would have collapsed just a bit to the left, this dungeon would have been impassible and the world would have been doomed.
Attacks in Tomb Raider feel impactful and have to be measured, for instance, while you can go ballistic in Darksiders.
@Magician Ah, I see what you mean.
@doppelgreener Heh, you didn't play on hardest difficulty from the start. I'm fairly certain you're not actually meant to do that from the start, only once you've beaten the game and have powerful items. Fool that I was, I must have spent an hour on the very first fight. But I learned. And you do get horribly powerful later...
@Magician Yeah, not so much in Darksiders 2 where attacks are extremely fast, but in 1 the wide, slow swings leaving you open made you be very tactical about your attacks.
@Magician I haven't played it at all, but I did watch someone for a few hours who plays games on hard mode at first go. The fights were dangerous, but the mechanics and character are so flashy and reassuring that the game doesn't convey the feeling of them being dangerous.
5:34 AM
And as for Amnesia... Zombies sighing are scary, but once you realize they're not actually present, because you've run around the same stupid room for 10 minutes looking for an exit in the fog, and all you hear is zombies signing, that takes the suspense away.
I can make a simple meager platformer where fights are very simple - walk up behind someone and shank them - but the entire atmosphere of the game can be built up to make those fights feel very dangerous and send your pulse higher for trying to engage in them, through the atmosphere, how the animation and controls play out, etc.
@doppelgreener Suddenly I can understand your PoV a lot better - Tomb Raider is definitely a game which is all about the feels.
Hah. But so is Darksiders! It just makes you feel like an all-powerful god :)
@Miniman It is definitely about the feels.
@doppelgreener OTOH -- you can sucker people in over their heads rather well by making things seem not-dangerous when they really actually are.
5:37 AM
@Shalvenay of course, which might be good or bad video game design
@Magician For sure!
@doppelgreener (EVE Online, for instance, can seriously lull you to sleep simply by way of uneven population distribution -- 20-odd jumps of sov dull and then BAM you hit a bubblecamp and explode because you weren't expecting the next system to be active when it was)
@Magician Yeah, War just radiates power, right down to the voice acting. Part of my problem with the sequel was how Death seemed vastly less powerful.
Tomb Raider's a bit of a masterpiece in how it conveys all those feels. Ground and handholds crumbling away as you climb and jump around is an exquisite detail toward its goals, and I'm very pleased it's in there. It'd probably feel a bit more vacant to someone not actually playing.
@doppelgreener The problem I have with this is that the moment the game breaks your immersion it becomes a bit empty from a gameplay perspective.
(And I found my immersion was broken a lot, but that might just be me.)
@Miniman Yeah, that was my impression too.
5:47 AM
I can't remember, but I think I was fine with it. Sometimes I was conscious that yeah, that was just a fancy effect and it didn't need to be there. It was still better than it not being there, I think.
@doppelgreener Fair enough. The main immersion-breaker was when you died and had to redo a sequence, so it probably suffered unduly from me being bad.
I suspect it has something to do with how realistic everything looks: it's harder to make affordances and suspend disbelief. If I have to jump in the only correct way through falling platforms in a side-scroller, I wouldn't care.
@Miniman This, too. Once you've died a couple of times in the same spot, it makes all the invisible walls and triggers all the more apparent.
Yeah, that does make the scripted-ness show up, and I'd suggest that's something the game design should still have accounted for. I got back on the rails easily enough after things like that.
@Magician Side note: If you're bad at games, Tomb Raider turns into a weird series of videos aimed at people who have a fetish for gruesome deaths.
Side note on the side note: Do "grue"s come from the word gruesome? How have I never realised this?
@Miniman Took me quite a while to realise that myself!
5:54 AM
@Miniman Mind blown gruesomely.
Actually the Grue might come from Gruesome's root word, which is just a word for horror:
A grue is a term for a fictional predatory monster that dwells in the dark. The word was first used as a fictional predator in Jack Vance's Dying Earth universe (described as being part "ocular bat", part "unusual hoon", and part man). Actually, the word gru is Danish for horror. Sir Walter Scott used the word gruesome in the 16th century. It comes from a Scottish word meaning to feel horror or to shudder. This word and its uses are far older than Vance's work or Zork. Dave Lebling introduced a similar monster, whose name was borrowed from Vance's grues, into the interactive fiction computer game...
I have learned a thing! By looking it up!
6:07 AM
I need some foodstuffs whose names start with the letter P. Trying to keep a character gimmick going.
@GuidingLight Paella?
Potstickers, pork, pudding.
@trogdor I don't know what that is, but it doesn't sound fun.
6:09 AM
it probably isn't
it's just an option, no one has to choose it
Ooh, parathas!
Pizza, pineapple (but not one on top of the other, that isn't food).
6:10 AM
Pies. Pirogi, because somehow that's different.
Pockie sticks!
Pickled owlbear eggs.
@GuidingLight the ultimate food
6:12 AM
@Miniman Pizza on top of a pineapple is just a complicated sort of platter with dessert built in.
Prawns. Pad Thai. Pad See Ew. Likely lots more of those.
Whole new field of possible p-foods: Animals whose names start with p. As an example, penguins.
Peas. Pringles. (Which are chips, for those not aware.)
Pide (aka turkish pide).
Persimmons and pumpkins.
Paprika, parsley, poppy seeds, pennyroyal, and perilla, for seasoning, of course.
I may have written the most important question of my life.
@Magician I was just looking at that.
6:26 AM
of course you would write a question like that
It is Important! The public needs to know such things.
Does an owlbear poop in the woods?
I've just learned the tags page lets us see a list of new tags. And that one is in there, I am quite happy to see.
(though as a joke tag the wiki was probably unnecessary, it'll get blaminated eventually)
@doppelgreener Yeah, we have some very...generous...reviewers in the Suggested Edits queue.
Wow, I don't think I've ever seen a question where so many close reasons applied before.
@doppelgreener Will the tag wiki keep it alive if it isn't on any questions?
6:49 AM
@Miniman Nope. Tags without questions await doom; the only way to save them is find them a question.
@doppelgreener Ah, cool.
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