Posts Tagged ‘dungeons and dragons’

Human beings are funny things. I don’t mean in a Joe Pescie “funny like a clown” way, but more like a quirky mishmash of personality traits and idiosyncrasies. My wife, for example, frequently states that I am like a fungus in describing how people often initially find me off-putting but over repeated exposures I tend to grow on them until they are quite fond of me. With things like the projective hypothesis and interpersonal dynamics on display, I feel that that there is no place quite like the gaming table to shine a light peoples quirks. For example, I remember running this convention game one time and this kid’s action during a 4th Edition skill challenge was to roast and eat a dead bandit in front of the townsfolk (uhhh…I guess maybe roll Intimidation?). Additionally, I don’t think we have to dig too deep to get an understanding of my penchant for dick, fart, and masturbation jokes at the game table.

Aside from the walking manifestations of our juvenile and delinquent self’s, I like how hard choices at the game table can bring out conflict or drama between players, between characters, and even between a player and his character. In a recent session of my Princes of the Apocalypse game I was absolutely ticked to be able to put the players in a situation where they had to make a tuff decision with some potential negative consequences.

Here’s the “sitch”, once upon a time four brash and wet behind the ears pc’s stormed the Earth Cult temple at the Sacred Stone Monastery in the dead of night and found themselves resource depleted and fighting the 2nd in command. In the end, two of the players tip-toed over their dying companions as they fled into the night (it was the rpg equivalent of the movie “A Bridge too Far”). Cut to last session where the party, after clearing out the other surface temples and gaining 2 levels, returned to the Sacred Stone Monastery to let the Earth Cult know what time it was. As they confronted the 2nd in command in the altar room he giddily sent one of his minions down the stairs and into the dungeon with instructions to kill one of the pc’s they left for dead.

Well this certainly came as a surprise to my players and much debate ensued. Further complicating the scene was the fact that the cult leader hit them with a slow spell on his first turn, perhaps the perfect medicine for a too big for his britches ranger but I digress. I love when they talk aloud in pseudo-questions while looking at me for subtle tells as to what the deal is. It was interesting to watch. The conflict arose around whether they should fall for the obvious trap with the former party member also likely being dead. I summarized their thoughts and concerns and asked them what would their “characters” would feel and do. The ranger told the barbarian (the two original survivors) that they should act heroically and try, even if it is in vain and a trap, to save their former companion, assuaging their guilt and making amends for leaving him to die and, apparently, to be tortured in captivity. The cleric then casts dispel magic on the barbarian and he flies off down the stairs to what we all know was quite clearly a trap. With a pull of a lever the stairs became a slide into a room with a loosed Umber Hulk. Yes the bad guy also sacrificed one of his minions. Now we are switching back and forth between scenes. The barbarian gets a little irked because the rest of the party leaves him down there to fight for his life alone while they slowly finish off the rest of the bad guys. He sarcastically reflected the ranger’s comments about being heroic back to him, which caused a little bit of tension. I also couldn’t resist needling him a little. His actions were just so inconsistent with his role-playing rhetoric it was hilarious. It seemed he was reluctant to put himself into a potential tactical disadvantage despite advocating that course of action and inducing it in a fellow pc. In the old days we would have had him change his alignment.

Unfortunately I was unable to capitalize on my advantage and the players triumphed without anyone dying. After a leisurely battle with the cult leader, the rest of the party joined the Barbarian and they wiped the floor with the gimped Umber Hulk. IRL their Dragonborn Bard companion is still alive, locked in a cell with the rest of the slaves. The Barbarian’s decision to rush off into danger did save the Bard’s life and they can now reap the rewards in the form of valuable information. If they didn’t go after the minion they would have found the bard dead with is throat freshly cut.  How do your players handle tuff choices?


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After years of 3rd and 4th edition D&D and a small smattering of Pathfinder, 5th Edition D&D allowed us to break away from gridded combat. In a lot of ways the designers seemed to encourage theatre of the mind (TotM) as a way of showing the flexibility of the game and its ability to accommodate different play styles or mimic the feel of one’s favorite edition of the game. I often wondered how this has played out in practice. I get the sense from everything I have read online to watching some streams that there can be quite the mix of TotM and good old gridded combat.

While 5th edition enabled TotM, when I looked at the games I have run or am running as well as games I have played in, I realized that gridded combat was pretty much the only thing going on. In online VTT games I can see the pull or need towards having a map and tokens as the VTT’s are kind of designed with that default assumption in mind. Additionally, I feel that using maps and tokens online can really help center people and provide an orientation that might be difficult for the DM to get descriptively, given that they are speaking to people that they are not in the same room with or directly looking at. In my home game, I think I just started drawing rooms or combat areas on my battle map out of habit. There was a recent session in my home game that went fairly long and I was tired and didn’t feel like drawing one more boring non-descript room out. I suggested to my players we just narrate the combat scene.  Sweet baby Jesus, you would have thought I suggested that I shit in their mouths. The gripes seemed to come from them feeling they might be unable to do the most tactically superior action and a fear of possibly leaving themselves defensively exposed to me on the bad guys turn. So I relented and drew a box and placed everyone inside it.

That interaction irked me. I began to look more closely at how the game was playing and whether it was satisfactory to me. The pacing of play seemed to be bogged down or slowed due to the tactical miniatures game that was occurring for every combat. It was not only measuring movement, positioning, and determining area of effects; it was also the minutia of tactics being discussed on every turn that was making the sessions a bit of a grind. This play style seemed to be exacerbated by the dungeon crawl nature of Princes of the Apocalypse which can result in frequent minor battles or fights. Additionally, the gridded combat really brought out the competitive nature in me. It was like if you are going to set the battle up like a chess match then I felt almost compelled to Bobby Fisher the shit out of them. I know it has been said frequently that the 4 or 5 heads of the players will outmaneuver and beat the DM’s monsters, but to be honest that was not really happening at my table. While my players have been involved in playing rpg’s for decades, they would currently fall into the category of casual player. They don’t read blogs, listen to podcasts, or pour over player options, which essentially culminated into some at-will pownage by me. I also found myself falling into a less than stellar DM mode, in terms of  just defaulting to drawing something on the grid rather than being descriptive and immersive.

I decided things needed to change to improve my enjoyment and maintain my interest level in running the game. However, change can be hard, especially after years of gridded play being the default assumption and, for some of us, the borderline compulsive accumulation of a metric shit ton of mini’s, maps, and dungeon tiles. Nevertheless I persisted. I decided to change the status quo at my next session. I downloaded and printed Mike “Sly Flourish” Shea’s one page document on running TotM in 5th edition and handed it out to my players. I explained to them my reasoning for making the change and assured them that we weren’t going “full TotM”, as if the movie Tropic Thunder has taught us anything it’s that you never go “full” anything.  I told them that for most encounters we would just use TotM, but for the more set piece encounters we would grid it up.  They seemed to be on board and the session went well. I still used may ridiculous amounts of mini’s and pawns to add flavor and show relative positioning, kind of like we did back in our  AD&D and Runequest days. As a DM, I still need to work on describing the action better and setting the scene/environment, but we are moving forward.

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I have been running Princes of the Apocalypse for what seems like an eternity. We only play every 3 to 4 weeks which I am sure contributes to what seems like a glacial pace. For those not in the know, Princes of the Apocalypse is one of the official hardback campaign adventures put out by Wizards of the Coast on a somewhat annual basis. It can take characters from level 1 to 15, as they attempt to thwart the 4 elemental cults from opening a portal for one of the elemental prices to stroll through—sorry spoilers. My players started the adventure at 3rd level (thank god) after sacking the Sunless Citadel.  I think what has made it a bit of a grind is that under a sandbox premise; the main action is a series of dungeon crawls. My player’s tactics have mostly been variations of a frontal assault on the various fortresses or temples. The sandbox element of the successive dungeon crawls has been the freedom to tackle any of the cult strongholds both above and below ground in any order they choose after uncovering their location through exploration. Each outpost/dungeon has a suggested party level.  I choose not to gate access to any of the areas and just tried to telegraph how dangerous the area they were entering was. Each surface cult outpost has access to the deeper underground cult outposts which are typically meant for much higher and powerful characters. This freedom of exploration has led to one TPK and 3 other deaths (not wholly unsatisfying if I am being honest).

The first TPK of Princes of the Apocalypse (there was also one in Sunless Citadel) happened after they cleared out River Guard Keep and continued down into the Water Cults main underground temple. This created some story “issues” since they unfortunately wanted to continue with the adventure. We were suddenly faced with an absence of hooks or ties to the adventure. Now I can hand waive things with the best of them out there, but we decided to buckle down to try and create something that would narratively work for our needs. They came up with the concept of their characters running an organization for wayward children. Essentially it’s an orphanage that takes in kids and grows them up. Each player character would have grown up through the organization to become the leaders. This had the benefit of giving them a stake in the area and a desire to prevent its destruction. It also, narratively, allows for a pool of back-up characters that can be drawn on when I invariably kill one or all of them again.

That was a fairly long preamble to get to the point of this post, which is how I dropped L2 Assassin’s Knot into my game to break up the monotony of successive dungeon crawls. Assassin’s Knot was a 1st Edition AD&D module that consistently gets ranked on the list for top adventures of all time. I won’t go into detail about the module as there are some good synopses out there, but it’s essentially an investigation style adventure trying to uncover who killed a known NPC and why.  -Spoilers in advance this time- An assassin’s guild is behind the murder with the aim of destabilizing regional politics so their benefactor can take over territory. There is a time pressure in terms of more assassinations and failure to prevent the destabilization. I paired the adventure down quite a bit and used it as a loose structure. I had the assassin’s guild begin targeting members of the player’s organization. The guild was hired by Thurl Merosska, a Lieutenant in the air cult. This was my way of tying it to Princes of the Apocalypse with the benefit of steering the players to a more level appropriate challenge.  Thurl also talks in a Southern aristocrat accent which I really enjoy, so a win all around. Princes of the Apocalypse does have some side quests in the module, but I found them problematic on a couple of levels. What I have found is that once the cult activity was discovered exploration, in terms of other towns, of the many locales in the adventure setting (the Desserin Valley) essentially stopped, leaving most areas never visited as the players laser focused in on destroying the cults. Additionally, side treks that don’t involve the cult in some way seem frivolous to the party, as they feel they have identified the real threat to the area and themselves, particularly after a few of the “cult reprisal” encounters were run.

Overall, the module went very well, the players were engaged and really enjoyed themselves. I seemed to evade some of the cliché pitfalls of mystery/investigation adventures that I have made in the past such as cagey NPC’s that shut down or stymie interaction or having only one solution or specific clues that needed to be uncovered that would lead to dead ends or stalled play. I aimed at providing amble evidence or clues while also incorporating player theories to push the investigation forward and leading to the uncovering of the guild. If things seemed to stall I would have the guild make a hard move against the players to generate more clues/suspects and drive the action forward. There were some decent surprises in terms of who or who wasn’t in the guild, with reveals mostly occurring during a combat encounter. I felt it was a really great adventure that you can drop into most campaigns. It also really highlighted the ease with which you can convert material to 5th Edition D&D. the adventure also has a wide array of interesting NPC’s that the players can interact with. My favorite is the High Priest of Osprem (I changed it to Umberlee) who is suffering from dementia. I had the priest meet with the players in the nude and cast geas on the party wizard, commanding him to go to the local bar and get him some pickled eggs.

I always forget and am reminded just how omnipresent magic items were in the earlier editions of the game. In Assassin’s Knot, literally everyone has some kind of magic item and usually multiple items. When I say everyone I mean literally everyone, like the gardener is sporting magic weapons and armor. It’s a stark comparison with my Scrooge McDuck mentality in handing out magic items in 5th edition.  I feel my encounter building skills appear to need to some work as the combats were fairly easy, but that was okay because my players needed a win after being repeatedly curb stomped by me.

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The torch has been passed, or at least lit with a cantrip.  It is a time honored tradition for a man to pass onto his children the accumulated wisdom gleaned from his time on this earth, so they can carry on and forge new and brighter paths into the future.  As of today, I have fulfilled that responsibility by initiating and teaching my eldest son the ways of the D&D. I glossed over the darker days of wedgies, public ridicule, and involuntary abstinence (he is only 8). It’s a brave new world out there; and the geeks have truly inherited the earth. We are no longer relegated to parents’ basements…unless we want to be. We are everywhere, and social cliques are as fluid as they have ever been. I can’t believe he is going to grow up in an age where people will actually go to a theater or convention centre to watch a live D&D game be played. Still the necessary nods and respect to the old ways were observed. There was Cheetos, chips, and mountain dew aplenty. I tried to kill the boy with a save or suck effect, but he is wily like his old man, and he came away unscathed.

I have to say, without ego, that my son was absolutely amazing, he was a natural.  I mentioned last post that I had converted UK1 “The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh” module to 5th edition. The party is comprised of my son’s elven rogue, Stargazer, my friend is playing a half-elf warlock, and two dwarven NPC brothers (life domain cleric and fighter). They have penetrated the “haunted house” and have cleared the first floor. We started with a brief session 0 to establish bonds. My son came up with the idea that he was orphaned  when orcs wiped out his village and he was taken in by the dwarven brother’s family, and now seeks to hunt down these orcs. That’s pretty good eh? He even role played at times. When the barkeep at the Drunken Sea Urchin told him he needed to speak to an elderly poacher if he wanted more information on the “Haunted House” he asked me if he could “mutter” under his breath that this is ridiculous and a waste of his time. Also, when he found out how much it would cost to rent a room for the week he exclaimed, despite having no concept of money and what things cost, that this was “outrageous” and a “rip-off”. We also had to gently explain to him why he couldn’t make the NPC brothers go and investigate the horrible wailing and screams coming from the dark basement.

I think the hardest part was trying not to overly constrain his imagination. He was climbing into rafters to shoot his bow down at the monsters and dodging out of the way of incoming attacks. I made a sinfully bad DM error. He kept wanting to attack with his daggers, but he does more damage with his rapier, which I kept pointing out like some kind of overbearing power gamer. This is something I would never dream of doing with another adult, but I guess I am so used to telling him or teaching him how to do things as his dad that I didn’t catch myself until after. Next time I will be more mindful of that and just encourage him to do what he thinks is cool……and then kill him and build a character that doesn’t have any daggers.

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Hmm where to begin? I am still slowly prepping to run “Ancient Blood”, and by slowly I mean a brisk glacial place. I should be finished just in time to convert it to the 6th Edition rule set. I have been spending most of the time lately making maps for the vtt, reading the adventure again and again, and because I am an asshole, pondering how to add extra content to the adventure. There is one thing that has me concerned and that is converting the combat encounters/monsters over to the new edition. I have loosely mapped out and substituted a motley assortment of foes with which to antagonize my players with. My concern centers on the encounter building rules or guidelines set out the DMG. My little experience with system and what I have heard from other sources seems to indicate the guidelines might be a bit jenky. Encounters meant to be a fun donnybrook can turn out to be a bloodbath or vise versa a deadly set piece battle can turn out to be as threatening as a child’s tea party. It’s kind of all over the place. Part of the issue I think is the increasing experience point multiplier for more and more opponents; it seems to be off the mark a little. A friend of mine (the guy from the last post with the anal fissure surgery) suggests having a way for the players to succeed without killing everything, a way to escape, or knowledge of the threat ahead of time so they can tilt the odds in their favor. The game seems to require a bit of critical thinking and analysis when it comes to encounters, which I am not sure how I feel about it as I am a bit of a button masher kind of guy. I mean really, anymore demands on my critical thinking or mental resources and I am at risk of being reduced to a talking chimp.

So as I mentioned above, like an asshole, I felt I needed to add content to the adventure. A good portion of the adventure is based on content that doesn’t really match my play style and without it the adventure is kind of thin. What I am talking about is the overland travel. In the adventure, much is made about challenging the players and their characters to survive the trek, in sub-arctic conditions, to the abandoned Frost Giant keep. This is meant to be done by playing out each days travel and making camp through random encounters, foraging for food, not getting lost, and surviving and navigating environmental dangers such as breaking ice. I plan to incorporate that into a scene or two, but it is not my thing anymore to play out travel in a live action kind of way. In order “re-fill” the adventure so to speak, I have settled on adding a faction/threat, fleshing out one of the encounters into a possible side trek, and making the spirit of Mok-Turoknin’s (the dead Frost Giant king who’s curse is trigged) more of a factor.

The one faction or danger that I am adding is called “Erik the Viking”. The danger/faction is essentially a classic Viking clan lead by Erik. Their impulse is to grow strong, crush their enemies, and be worthy of Valhalla. Grim Portents for Erik the Viking are: trade to Dagmalstad is disrupted, Dagmalstad is attacked, the clan acquires and ancient power/magic. The impending doom is: Tyranny. As you might have noticed I am using Dungeon World terminology to organize and frame things. It allows to me to leave room for collaboration and to make moves more organically based on what the players do. Well at least in theory. I think the key will be in tying the players to the specific cities or factions in the adventure during character creation or session zero. I will give them the various groups that they can tie themselves too, including, and hopefully, Erik the Viking.

Below is the vtt map for the start of the game in medias res with the player’s boat sinking and being boarded by a raiding party from Erik’s clan. The 4e Dm in me was reflexively putting sharks in the water, because well sharks, until I realized that was like asking for a TPK in the first scene. I am a bit of douchebag but not that much of a douchebag. Besides I usually save the TPK for the second scene or when I want to rage quit my own game.


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My group kicked off the second adventure in the 4th edition remake of the Against the Giants series with myself as the DM. I have some thoughts about the first adventure, Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, and the changes we have made going forward that I thought I would share in my rambling, loosely coherent manner.  We absolutely crushed the first module, essentially finishing it without an extended rest or anyone dropping below zero HP. We skipped nothing as well, methodically scouring every inch of the setting and exterminating anything that walked, crawled, or slithered with extreme prejudice. Dick jokes were abundant, and a good time was had by all….except I found the lack of threat, while invigorating for the majority the adventure, a little blazeh by the end, at least for me.

Thus began the Great De-Optimization Debate of 2013. One player, through rhetoric or maybe it was more like browbeating, managed to convince the others that the party should de-optimize in order to re-calibrate to the intended challenge level of a generic module. No small feat, but he is a veteran of the WOTC forums and can be seen daily waging an endless war against hardcore simulationists and alignment worshipers.  What was agreed upon, albeit begrudgingly, was re-training powers to anything not rated blue or above on the optimization guides. It was framed as a grand experiment. Perhaps it would add an element of thought to the adventuring? Instead of going out of the way to fight everything perhaps some thought would be put into avoiding fights or outsmarting enemies?

During these discussions many things were tossed around as a mechanism for increasing challenge without touching the most sacrosanct of player traditions. Some things discussed, all on the DM’s end, included not allowing short-rests until certain milestones were achieved, penalties for extended rests, and adding monsters and terrain powers to make combats more challenging. I had no problem with any of these things, as I am pretty indifferent, but it was decided that the group go the de-optimization route.  Part of the reason for this was when we decided to run these modules it was to do them as is with as little prep as possible for the DM, saving the effort for “creator-owned projects” so to speak. I took some shit for this stance, even though I was okay with whatever was decided. There was an undercurrent of sentiment percolating around it being solely the responsibility of the DM to make changes to the game to enhance player enjoyment.

The first session of the “experiment” was pretty brutal. I am not sure it had much to do with the level of pc optimization, although it is possible that with highly optimized builds they might have pulled it out. What occurred was not the best display of playing or DMing out there. The module begins with the party needing to get into the keep. To accomplish this they split up with 2 characters bluffing their way in and the other three scaling the mountains up to the keep. The players scaling the mountain triggered part of the first encounter with a Roc and it’s stone giant rider assaulting them on the side of the mountain, not the best place to fight a Roc that’s for sure. I ended up killing one of the characters after the Roc had cumulatively dropped him over 200 feet. We did a bit of a ret-con that allowed him to be alive. Even though there was no entrance into the keep where the players were headed I knew one of the characters would be able to knock a whole in the wall, so no big deal.  Now when combat breaks out one of the characters that bluffed their way in and peddling meat pies to the stone giants, ran into a room facing the side of the mountain his comrades were climbing, hoping to aid them. This is where the wheels came off a bit as by entering the room and coming within a certain distance of a particular alter he  caused the stone giant shaman to have a vision, igniting a berserker rage  and triggering another encounter, which then triggered a third encounter.

So the count is split party vrs three encounters. Here is where I failed as a DM and they as players. For my part I didn’t do a very good job at framing what the character saw as he opened the door to the room with the alter in it as he likely would have stopped if he immediately was aware that there was no exit from the room, thereby not triggering the encounter. It was also pointed out later, with hindsight, that we could have entered a skill challenge to keep the stone giant from attacking, at least until the party had reformed. I didn’t think of it in the moment, again I should do better, nor was it offered by the players so we proceeded as is. I don’t think the player tactics were the best either and that doesn’t necessarily mean splitting the party but more not adjusting to the fact that the party was split as well as not really synergizing in terms of focusing fire, using terrain and choke points etc.. What we really saw was the default fight everything to the death tactic, which typically works with very optimized characters, but not so much here. What occurred, is in some ways unique to 4th edition, was a slow painful death in an unwinnable straight up fight. It wasn’t like people were dropping like flies a la a save or suck effect; it was the slow inevitable death by attrition. It ended with me calling the scene and negotiating next steps with most of the party fleeing with and one being thrown in a cage.

I felt terrible after the session, like I should be stripped of my blog for running such a cluster fuck of a session. It was not a good test of the de-optimization experiment either, although there were cries of re-optimizing cause getting beat sucked. There was also some suggestion that I should have altered things on the fly to ensure the party’s success. Now this kind of stuck in my craw a bit. First things first I am in no way the type of DM that feels he needs to punish players for mistakes or poor play and I will usually work very generously with the players to get the outcomes they want.  With that being said should players, no matter what they do, succeed at everything? Does this not negate the agency of their choices? Failure is only a complication and only sucks if it is uninteresting or doesn’t lead anywhere. So I could have been quicker on my feet and offered a solution, but it is also a two way street and what I got to work with was “let’s fight”.  Who knows where things go from here, this might have left such a sour taste in people’s mouths that the game breaks.

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I read a blog post the other day that made me groan inwardly and let out a deflated sigh at my desk, once again requiring me to reassure my officemates that no one had died. I would post a link but that would mean diving into my twitter feed, and as you know I’m kind of lazy and prone to half-assing things. Oh yah I am on the Twitters now, you can follow me @middleageddm. I don’t really twat a lot…is that the right term? Is it twating or tweeting? Whatever, anyways it wasn’t like this article was a provocative flame war punch to the crotch; it was just the depiction of modern D&D that rankled me a tad. The gist of the post was about gamers retreat from the heavy rules focused editions of D&D back into the loving embrace of the OSR. The part that stuck in my craw was a statement that 4th edition’s particular rule set and combat focused mechanics had eliminated role-playing from Dungeon’s and Dragons.    

I just find assertions like these a little rigid and myopic. Don’t get me wrong this has nothing to do with the OSR. I fully understand the desire to dust of those old 1st edition texts on the shelf and head off into the bowels of the Moathouse, holy symbol in hand, to kick Lareth the Beautiful’s ass six ways from Sunday. When I hear assertions about role-playing and how 4th edition discourages it or has an absence of it, I feel like that person is erroneously applying their subjectively held schema about what role-playing is for them in a weird sort of nerd pattern recognition.

Look I will grant you that the rules/mechanics can make combat pretty long in 4th edition, which can be off-putting to some, but I don’t find that it reduces or discourages role-playing in anyway…well at least based on my subjective schema of what role-playing is. You see for me combat is or can be role-playing. It’s all there for the taking; you get character-character interaction, character-npc interaction, character-environment interaction, character-monster interaction, collaborative storytelling, and narrative descriptions of character actions/moves and the corresponding DM narrative moves. Combat itself can be a rich, flowing tapestry of smack down, that is if you want it to be. So are we then talking about a lack of exploration or interaction scenes? I don’t find this to be true either as these things seem more dependant on group play-style and taste, as games can have as much or as little of each as desired. Are we then talking about how the clearly defined and codified combat and pc mechanics stifle creativity? I haven’t really found that to be the case either, maybe even the opposite for some people as this allows for easy fluffing..er I mean re-fluffing (fuck why does my mind always go there first?) or re-skinning as desired. For example I had two wizards in my last game that weren’t even recognizable as wizards. One was essentially Green Lantern and the other was a dumb as rocks gladiator.

I think in reality I have found 4th edition’s rule set to be the most flexible and inclusive of multiple play-styles. I have seen or heard about games that run the full spectrum of the continuum. On the forums one guy was describing his multiple 1-30th level campaigns that don’t even have a DM and are a series of delves and completely combat focused. While at the other end of the spectrum I have heard many descriptions of peoples games were they proudly declare having an entire session without any dice being rolled.  As an aside this seems to be the gold standard seal of approval for grognards when championing the greatness of the older editions and the bastard demon spawn that is 4th edition. This is something I don’t really get as I tend to get kind of jittery if I don’t smash something in the mouth during an evening of gaming, but that’s me.

Role-playing isn’t necessarily inherent to a system, unless were talking like a diceless system such as Amber or some heavy story game, it really seems more related to the individual people playing the game and what they do with the rules. Take Battletech as another example. That game is essentially a tactical Mech Fighting game but some cats have created such deep role-playing rich campaigns that would make some of my 1st edition campaigns look like a game of checkers. So when people say that the older editions of D&D encouraged or had more role-playing in them I just don’t buy. My personal experience and anecdotal research shows that a lot of people just killed things and took their stuff through endless dungeon crawls back then just as much as they do now.

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