This conversation has bled out into other blogs, specifically here and here…and so I guess I’m not done yet.
I just don’t understand you people at all. I know you’re all playing some sort of game that’s vaguely similar to what I’m playing, and that’s great and all, but when it comes to your minds and my mind, there is no meeting there.
This IS a simulation. Chess is a simulation. You may not choose to make your particular world a particularly accurate simulation; you may enjoy the various ways in which you goof with reality or reason; you may revel in the dismissiveness you feel towards logical sense…but if you use the word “sword” and the word “swing” within the context of “combat,” then you ARE simulating a real-world activity by the use of symbology.
Now let’s get this straight. The value of simulating an activity is the emotional gain involved. I want to feel adrenaline. I want to feel the adrenaline associated with the animal sensation of bloodlust. I create a game which simulates this bloodlust, so that I can feel the emotional rush without having to get messy. No, I don’t want to do it in reality. It isn’t wish fulfillment. But if you take away the faux reality of my simulation, what I feel is BOREDOM. What I feel is, “Why would I give a fuck?”
Now, maybe what it takes to make some of you people feel emotional from what you’re doing is very bland. It seems very bland to me, since words like “simplify” and “make easy” seem to be de rigueur. But for me, I find the real world very complicated, and I find that simulating the real world had better BE very complicated or, willy nilly, I’m going to ditch the simulation and just get the fuck on with living in the real world.
You may or may not understand this: I enjoy D&D not because it provides an escape from the world, but because it provides, in a small box, a unique, distilled, experiential interaction with that world. I want it to be as real as it can get without getting icky. This encourages emotional commitment on the part of my players, as it gives them the sense that there is something to lose.
What I’m reading suggests that win or lose, just don’t make me work.
I don’t know what any of you do for a living. Obviously, you’re not designers (bridges require too much math) or in business, or in any of the sciences. For me, personally, a writer, I find this math pathetically Simple Simon.
Now, let me bring up some salient points about the gnoll/mastodon example that has been worked over on this and other blogs. It has been suggested that the party receive 100 X.P. per hit die. To be specific, this would be 1200 for the mastodon, 700 for its rider (2 hit die +5 levels), 1000 for the cleric (whom no one seems to remember), and 5000 for the various other gnolls. Total, 7,900.
Add to this the 8,000 g.p. worth in treasure it was suggested that I add to this, and the party is making a considerable haul.
Let me just point out that I did mention that this was a hunting party, seeking out the characters, and therefore not likely to take along any treasure beyond a few pieces of jewelry. They certainly wouldn’t be hauling along 300 g.p. each (which in you people’s world weighs 30 fucking pounds—that seems pretty stupid).
Secondly, let me just add that when I said the party “slogged” their way through the other gnolls for 20 rounds, you may have misunderstood. Most of this involved dragging their asses through the snow, closing the distance between gnolls they just killed and gnolls still fighting across the field. It was a scattered fight and that definitely extended the combat. The gnolls did their best tactically, but let’s be serious—against magic and superior firepower they never had a chance. Since I mentioned these gnolls caused about 80 damage, it would help to remember that the ranger alone has 80 hit points. The party as a whole has something like 400. Which means that, in comparison, they cut through the gnolls like tissue paper. Only when I rolled four freaking 20s in a row did the gnolls EVER threaten any of the party. It was a cakewalk.
I am NOT going to hand over almost 16,000 X.P. for a cakewalk. You people seem to think that its hard for ten 5-8th level characters to slaughter 26 gnolls and a mastodon. You really have to be kidding me. The running before the party had just got through bashing fifty gnolls, ten of whom were 4th level and above (remembering that I play a 4th-level gnoll as having 6 HD), a battle made more complicated by the fact that they were trying to seize the 9th level cleric in THAT battle without actually killing him. Now that was hard.
I only threw this little party of gnolls/mastodon to pester the party as it fled the area, having failed to keep one of the gnolls from the first encounter from warning the local village of 200 gnolls, who are now scouring the woods looking for them. I just wanted to knock the party down a few hit points, keep them running scared, remind them that they’re mortal and that if the larger revenge party finds them they’re pretty much hooped.
All right. Hopefully that clears up a few things.
The one point that no one brought up—and which I think is the serious flaw in my proposed X.P. scheme, is that it incorporates a FINITE number of experience which the party can gain in any one encounter. The most X.P. any person can gain equals their total hit points minus 1. That means it wouldn’t matter if they slaughtered 10 very lucky gnolls or Asmodeus—they can’t do better than the hit points they have.
If you all want to bitch, bitch about that. Complain that it doesn’t reward the party for being immensely effective as killing machines—if they ever are immensely effective. THIS I admit is a flaw in my concept. I’ve been turning it over in my head looking for a solution, which I’m sure is there, while I in the meantime test the proposal as it stands. Experimentation. Something for which one creates a simulation.
One more point. The proposal also makes it clear that the party does not have to actually kill the monster to get experience. So if I give the mastodon 450 points, and the party fights it and decides it’s a losing proposition, and decide to run, I’m not limited by the D&D rule that the monster has to be dead in order to reward experience. The party was damaged—the party is compensated for that.
I find that very interesting.
Maybe X.P. shouldn’t be looked as a “reward.” That seems to swell the heads of DMs, who simply fail to grasp that the work was done and the risks taken without necessarily getting the DMs approval. Reward seems to invoke a paternal, patronizing instinct on the part of the DM—I think maybe the DM should concentrate on compensating the party, and recognizing that the experience isn’t about making the DMs life easier, or simpler. That X.P. isn’t about patting the characters on the head.
It’s about holding back when the party really hasn’t done anything special, and forking over the goods when the party has fucking earned it.
Let the WORK DONE reflect how much they get. Stop throwing darts at a board.