However, being creative and self-motivated isn’t a get out of jail free card. I put words together well; if I set myself to provide misinformation to others, I would still write well ~ but I would be in the wrong. That is why, though I can respect Gifford’s art work, I have sincere problems with his content. For example, the panel shown here. A panel which, I will stress for the reader, takes place AFTER the player’s characters were rolled up (see yesterday’s post).
Why are we only learning what the dice are now? Didn’t we need those dice to roll up the characters?
Apparently not. We’ve heard of stat arrays; but apparently, in explaining how the game works, there’s no requirement to explain what stat arrays are or why they exist. That would require multiple panels and is ultimately a rabbit hole that no cheerful, friendly, slightly humorous artist/writer wants to address … so instead we get more of this “don’t worry” stuff. Convenient. Aggravating. Misleading. Disrespectful to the intelligence of the listener and ultimately the source of millions of fruitless arguments on the internet. Still; let’s put that on a shelf.
This is not how lava works. Jumping over a pit of lava would be like putting your hand a few inches above a large burning fire. Most likely, during your wind-up to jump, you’d pass out from the heat. During the hang-time of your jump (particularly in this drawing), you’d most likely be on fire when you landed ~ your hair in particular. But let’s put that on a shelf.
I particularly like the tree in the picture.
What are the spikes going to do that the lava is not?
But let’s put that on a shelf.
Let’s just talk about this: “As the DM, I decide on a number on the [sic] scale to determine how much of a challenge this is.” And then Gifford writes, “Let’s saaay … 15!”
“Let’s”? That’s an unfortunate idiom for something the DM is going to say.
This is not how “a challenge” works. This is how a crap shoot works. A crap shoot where the dealer arbitrarily changes the odds. From a mountain of psychological studies we know that human beings alter their opinions about things based on all sorts of stuff ~ their mood, the current state of their lives, relationship problems, the weather … your character could die from rolling a 16 and not a 15 because the DM’s wife gave him shit that morning for not taking out the garbage. It’s not a “challenge.”
A challenge happens when you face something in a competition, where an individual struggles against self, other or nature in an ongoing contest. When we reduce “challenge” to let’s roll the die and see what happens, we cheapen that conflict. We turn it into something tawdry, slight or disposable. For those who can’t see it, imagine, “Lava Pit!” the movie, in which our bold hero steps up to the edge and jumps … oh no! He misses and dies. Roll credits.
Wow. What a great movie. If only he had made it before the credits rolled. Then it would have been even better.
When every scene of your “story” turns to crap because a player misses a crapshoot, you’ve missed the damn point. Better that the players come to the edge of the pit, feel the heat, realize there’s no way they’re jumping this horror show and fall back. “How are we going to do it?” says one. “We’ll have to find another path.” “Perhaps there’s a spell.” “I don’t have it.” “Sure, but if we met someone who could get us across …” “Where?” “Hey, I have an idea …”
That is how a challenge works.
Just look at Gifford here in these last panels, trying to squeeze as much drama as possible out of the words, “… And I mean the WORST possible way.” Jeez. Is that really the best we can do? A vague threat that if you crap out on the d20, you’ve crapped out? Hell, I can get more drama than that at any Casino. It’s cheap, it’s lazy, it’s unworthy and damn, it’s a rotten way to build up your new players into thinking this is the end-all and be-all of possible outcomes.
5e was supposed to be “role-playing” and not “roll-playing.” To hell with either. How about think-playing?