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Jediphile

Does anyone else share my dislike of d20?

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This thread seems to have been only about skill-based vs. class-based recently, but my original disgust with d20 wasn't only about the inflexibility of predetermined and rigid classes, though I don't like those much either, as I have described rather a lot already.

 

Sorry.. I got carried away :thumbsup:

 

 

There's also the high-level superhero vs. common man problem. I know D&D is about heroic characters, but it's really silly that your group of four 15-th level characters can basically tear apart an orcish army of several thousands without much trouble, let alone the local villages you chance across in your travels... Try reading som "Knights of the Dinner Table" comic books for some extreme examples of how silly that can get. It's just silly to have rules that allow you to fireball a village into oblivion in a few seconds without trouble, and the high-level play also ruins the role-playing experience, since why would your 18th-level paladin fear those shady-loooking characters sneaking sneaking around in that dark alley - there is no chance at all that they can harm him in any way, and players are fully justified by the rules if they show no concern at all about this...

 

I have never played d20 CoC so I can't comment on that since d20 sucks so bad..but I have something to say...

 

Dang.. It took me forever to find this post. But here are my thoughts on the matter here. Check post #292.


image002.gifLancer

 

 

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This thread seems to have been only about skill-based vs. class-based recently, but my original disgust with d20 wasn't only about the inflexibility of predetermined and rigid classes, though I don't like those much either, as I have described rather a lot already.

 

Sorry.. I got carried away :p

 

Actually, I think that's my line :D

 

I *really* got carried away on the whole class-vs-skill argument, which is actually secondary to experience levels to me. I don't like classes, but I find that experience levels are worse, since they are truly what distance characters from the common folk and therefore from retaining any sort of believability that serves to suspend your disbelief.

 

 

I have never played d20 CoC so I can't comment on that since d20 sucks so bad..but I have something to say...

 

Dang.. It took me forever to find this post. But here are my thoughts on the matter here. Check post #292.

 

You mean this ?

 

Yes, I know, but I do have a problem with that argument in that it's a role-playing solution to a rules-created problem. Of course you can introduce elements of bounty hunters and similar to haunt the PCs if they don't "behave" according to what they should - any good GM can do so without much trouble.

 

But that's not the problem - the problem is that the PCs are powerful enough to destroy a village, and even if you introduce assassins to make them behave again, the villagers will still be just as dead. Besides, you can only place convenient opposition in the PCs' path for so long before you lose credibility in the eyes of your players. Besides, players hate being hit over the head with the GM's stick - they usually play to escape that sort of thing in their real lives in the first place.

 

I once handled it differently in my campaign. The PCs had been involved in a brawl, which led to a trial, where all the PCs were fined and thrown in jail for a few days. Since the barkeep had testified against them, they were angry and wanted revenge, so they researched the barkeep's background, checking to see if he was connected to important families or influential people and so. When they found he was not, they visited his tavern dressed up in hoods, so that he wouldn't recognize them, and the mage extended his hand to shake the barkeep's, then cast Shocking Grasp when he took it, which instantly killed the poor guy.

 

Now, how do you handle a situation like that? It's not as if what the PCs did was implausible, and to suggest that the barkeep would remember the two of them that entered the keep at that point from a single brawl (barkeeps probably have these all the time in AD&D...) is pretty unbelievable. So to stop them I would have had to enforce some pretty fierce rule-bending and rail-roading, which is something I really hate. Besides, the barkeep was really just a generic NPC...

 

Instead I let the barkeep be dead, and the PCs then decided to leave town for a few days. They came back a few days later, badly in need of some healing (they had no cleric in the party) after some random monster encounters. When they went to the church, however, they were taken aside by a cleric, due to some commotion at the center of church. Inquisitive and opportunistic as PCs are, they naturally asked if there was a problem and if they could help, to which the cleric told that one of the younger members of the order was pretty upset because his uncle had recently died under mysterious circumstances and that foul play was suspected. Naturally this uncle was the barkeep... The surprise of the players and the look on their faces when the cleric asked them if they could look into this and find out what happened was quite satisfying and worth letting them kill a generic barkeep for... It also helped the point come across very nicely without lots of hunting and rail-roading on my part :shifty::)

 

That ended any killing spree I ever had in my campaigns, but I honestly don't know what I would do if it happened again - to let the PCs be hunted down within a day or two of killing a village is straining credibility very far. Aafter all, who is left to identify them, and how would experienced bounty hunters/assassins find them so quick? Besides, why would the local baron/king/whatever care about the dead villagers of some forgotten spot in the middle of nowhere? You can set up bounter hunters and so, but it takes time before it works right, and it's actually far more effective if the PCs are being hunted down for being total good guys than for being villains - trust me, I know whereof I speak :D :-"

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Yes, I know, but I do have a problem with that argument in that it's a role-playing solution to a rules-created problem. Of course you can introduce elements of bounty hunters and similar to haunt the PCs if they don't "behave" according to what they should - any good GM can do so without much trouble.

 

I don't see these said "role-playing" solutions as a cruel way for the DM to "punish" the PCs for not behaving but actual logical, believable responses to these situations. I actually have no problem if the PCs wish to take out a village under most circumstances.. I just want them to realize that there will be repercussions for their actions... That's all...Just like in real life.

 

But that's not the problem - the problem is that the PCs are powerful enough to destroy a village, and even if you introduce assassins to make them behave again, the villagers will still be just as dead.

 

Depends on the size of the village. What are we talking about here? A tiny community of 50 or several hundred? Or a small town of a a thousand or so? For a tiny community of 50 out in the middle of nowhere I concur that that a party of high level PCs would be able to take it out without so much as breaking a sweat. This becomes more difficult, however, as the community population size and/or sprawl increases.

 

Although the town guard (if it has one) would be obligated to stay and fight, on the whole people are not stupid, mindless beasts that just fight to the death. There will be many that will flee simply out of fear of losing their lives or those of the ones they love(i.e women with children, or the weak..etc.). There will probably be others that witness the carnage first hand and realize how futile it would be to retaliate. As a result, there will most likely be surviving witnesses and so word would eventually get around (particularly in larger villages) unless the PCs take extreme measures such as completely surrounding the village with a large military force.

 

 

I once handled it differently in my campaign. The PCs had been involved in a brawl, which led to a trial, where all the PCs were fined and thrown in jail for a few days. Since the barkeep had testified against them, they were angry and wanted revenge, so they researched the barkeep's background, checking to see if he was connected to important families or influential people and so. When they found he was not, they visited his tavern dressed up in hoods, so that he wouldn't recognize them, and the mage extended his hand to shake the barkeep's, then cast Shocking Grasp when he took it, which instantly killed the poor guy.

 

Now, how do you handle a situation like that?

 

But this is a very different scenario altogether from wiping out an entire community. I don't think powerful PCs under any ruleset should fear engaging combat when it comes to confronting their local barkeep. :)

 

How you explained you handled this situation was very good though. ;)

 

That ended any killing spree I ever had in my campaigns, but I honestly don't know what I would do if it happened again - to let the PCs be hunted down within a day or two of killing a village is straining credibility very far. Aafter all, who is left to identify them, and how would experienced bounty hunters/assassins find them so quick? Besides, why would the local baron/king/whatever care about the dead villagers of some forgotten spot in the middle of nowhere? You can set up bounter hunters and so, but it takes time before it works right, and it's actually far more effective if the PCs are being hunted down for being total good guys than for being villains - trust me, I know whereof I speak  :D  :wub:"

 

Never said anything about letting the PCs getting hunted down within one or two days of committing the atrocity. Retribution could take days, weeks, months (or even years) depending on how quickly word gets around, reinforcements are sent and how well the investigations go. Regarding investigations, even if there is nobody alive that can identify the PCs (which would be very unlikely after such a large slaughter and because of survivors as explained above) clues left behind can very well implicate the PCs. The same way PCs are always successful in finding clues to implicate NPC villains, I don't see why NPC investigators wouldn't be able to do the same every once in a while(in fact this could be a potential source of new rivals/enemies :wub: for the PCs). Just because they are the PCs and the heroes of your story doesn't mean they are above the law.

 

Besides, you can only place convenient opposition in the PCs' path for so long before you lose credibility in the eyes of your players. Besides, players hate being hit over the head with the GM's stick - they usually play to escape that sort of thing in their real lives in the first place.

 

Done carefully none of these examples represent "convenient opposition" but rather realistic scenarios that could very well happen.

Nevertheless, I agree that these are roleplaying solutions. But since these are realistic consequences (in my mind) they would hold true in any other game. They are good enough to still instill a "fear of combat" attitude into the PCs without losing the veil of believability.


image002.gifLancer

 

 

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And an addendeum to my most recent post:

 

This "superhero vs. common man" problem also varies in severity depending on the setting. Some D&D settings were just inherently more lethal than others inspite of having a D&D ruleset. In Planescape, for instance, PCs just can't go into Sigil/an Outer Plane/ a gate-town or whatever and start murdering innocents without immediate retribution from any of the various planar beings, Gods, celestials, lower planar beasts, Abyssal Lords, Lords of Nine, Lady of Pain (and so on) most of which would be able to pen the PCs into the dead book without breaking much of a sweat. Not that I advocate playing Planescape under d20 but in a d20 Planescape game this would hold true as well. So the lesson learned here is that you can instill "the fear of combat" notion into PCs if there are forces inherent in the setting that will always be more powerful than the PCs.

 

If you play your cards right the superhero vs. common man syndrome corrects itself, IMHO. Either you are in a setting where no matter where you go there is always something bigger and badder than you are (Planescape) or the DM provides realistic consequences that make the players think twice before taking out that nice village community (as explained above).


image002.gifLancer

 

 

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I would also like to point out that the players being able to wipe out a small comunity isnt realy a level based problem as players could probably manage that in most systems, it just takes more planning in some then others.

 

The issue that irritates me level systems is realy unproportional increase in health compared to damage potential. Which means that after a while its more or less imposible to be killed in one or two blows. In my opinion some of the sence of mortality for the character disaperes when death no longer can come as a suprise.

 

It also irritates me that the feel of the game is next to imposible to keep consistant when so many abilitys differ so much between a weak character and a strong character.

Another reason that I dislike D&D is that for the relatively lowpowered groups that I usualy enjoy playing the random factor is simply to large compared to the statbased bonuses.

But again these are just my feelings and I cant realy say that they make D&D an inferior system with conviction because of them. Just a system I don't enjoy playing with.

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The issue that irritates me level systems is realy unproportional increase in health compared to damage potential. Which means that after a while its more or less imposible to be killed in one or two blows. In my opinion some of the sence of mortality for the character disaperes when death no longer can come as a suprise.

 

True. I once tried a plot based on an intended assassination of King Stefan of Karameikos in the Mystara setting. Normally such a thing would be done by marksman with a crossbow or something like that, only Stefan is a D&D fighter level 15+, so not even three crossbowmen can bring him down, which is just silly. Boromir was killed by three arrows, but it cannot happen in D&D :p"

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The issue that irritates me level systems is realy unproportional increase in health compared to damage potential. Which means that after a while its more or less imposible to be killed in one or two blows. In my opinion some of the sence of mortality for the character disaperes when death no longer can come as a suprise.

 

This is actually very, very true. Although this problem doesn't really have anything to do with AD&D being level-based. There is no reason why you couldn't introduce some sort of real wound/hit location system into AD&D like they do in virtually all good skill-based systems.

 

Say....Have your character's total hit points represent the total hit points needed to disable the torso... then divide total hp/2 for each of the arms/legs, hp/3 or hp/4 for the head...etc or similar... Give small-moderate penalties for attacking specific locations other than torso (no more than say -6 or -7)

 

Say your Level 7 fighter with 57 hp get surprised by a couple of orcs. The orcs would only need to hand out 15-19 hp (not 57) of damage to the head of the PC before knocking him out. And if your PCs are mature enough you can even go a step further and allow the possibility of receiving major injuries and losing limbs and of the like.

I think this is a much better method than PO: C&T's endless, gameplay-slowing critical hit tables...

 

You can also decide to apply penalties to a character's movement/hit-to-attack roll (or if you are very evil to *all* attributes or skills) as the character loses more and more hit points in combat.

 

Both these fixes can increase the sense of mortality for PCs by allowing the possibility of dying within one or two hits. It is a problem that can be easily addressed, IMHO.

 

 

But again these are just my feelings and I cant realy say that they make D&D an inferior system with conviction because of them.  Just a system I don't enjoy playing with.

 

Well said. People are different.


image002.gifLancer

 

 

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