Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meta-gaming

I originally had written something both lengthier and more thoughtful on the subject of how our adventure is proceeding so far, but Firefox encountered an error and needed to close. I'm attempting to recapture the magic:

Since we're about to take a week off from D&D, I figured I'd weigh in on my gameplay experience to this point, and invite everybody else to do the same. I'm having a good time and really looking forward to Thursday nights. I think the only thing I would really like to change is the difficulty of our encounters... the fights are all way too easy! We cruise through without breaking a sweat most of the time. I think that's mostly because TC is making all of the monsters we fight much worse since the maps and scenarios are meant for higher level characters... for example, his sheets usually have the monsters down around 15-16 in their AC, where they might have originally been a crew of 19s. I don't think there's an easy fix for this problem... we don't want to use a crappy scenario, but just fighting a bunch of guys with high AC's is just going to make for a bunch of boring turns ... "you miss," "you miss," "you miss," etc. So how can we make the experience more difficult without turning the whole evening into a contest to see who can roll 18+ first? As you may imagine, I have several suggestions:

The monsters need to hit harder - TC usually rolls a d6 (six sided die) and sometimes lower. I think it would be safe to let him either roll a d8 almost every time, or have the monsters add anywhere from +2 to +4 every time they hit.

Our AC is too high - We almost never get hit! Either we can all shave off some AC (not exactly realistic or fun) or TC needs to break out a few skills to get around our armored beast-hides. For example, temporary reduction to Bolt's AC, or Malak's AC, or a hideous boost to TC's strength modifier (turn some of those 13's into 19's occasionally), or more frequent auto-hit attacks (like our casting cronies with their magic missile).

Crowd control - There's no getting around it... there are too many of us. As much as it kind of sucks to chill out for a couple turns and not be able to do anything, it wouldn't be ridiculous to have TC change us into a block of ice, or .. charm one of us to fight against each other! That would be ridiculous.

TC is too easy on us - As a group, we've hinted at this rather obliquely, but it's probably worth bringing up with him in two weeks... before we start, we've got to let him know that we want the monsters to try as hard as they can to kill us. I think the only way he's going to really bring the pain is if he believes that we all want the pain brought.

There's enough creativity between the seven of us, and especially enough background in the tactics of fantasy combat between the guys in this group, that we ought to be able to generate a whole list of ideas for TC to randomly incorporate into our encounters. TC is definitely going by-the-book, and I think our encounters would be a lot more epic if we were playing the scenarios at a higher level and with fewer people... our particular group of adventurers really shouldn't be all that epic, since we're only at level 3. But at the same time, I think there are some adjustments that would add a little variety to our fights that would make them tougher.

Of course, the easiest way for TC to incorporate our suggestions and offer his feedback is if he would read the damn blog. But maybe he's never used the internet before? I don't know. Assuming he never checks out the blog, we should just bring stuff like this up at the beginning of the night. TC is definitely trying as hard as he can to help us have a good time, and he's even making an effort to meta-game like we do (he was asking Bethany and I about USC and Oregon football last week, and killed us with that "untrained (you-know-what) check" a couple weeks ago...) I think we just need to be clear about what we want and he will strive to please.

9 comments:

Taran said...

We (Brian, Angela, Julia and I) were talking about this and there were basically two conclusions we came to:

1. The four of us preferred more role playing in our adventures. By this I mean that we liked having to actually do things other than walk into a room and fight 4 dudes. I think this is a personal preference and it's obviously not the way TC is used to playing. So I'm not sure that type of thing is going to happen while TC is DMing for us.

2. What John said - it's too easy. And this comes from a number of different factors - too many of us, our AC's are so high, he doesn't try to attack our casters, etc. I agree that TC needs to add some random modifiers to his attack rolls or do more magic damage. As it is, his evil minions swing frantically and come up with a lot of air. That's no fun. I'd rather him hit more often and use his 6-sided die to do damage rather than hit once in a blue moon for 12 - 15 damage. Either way, we need to take more damage.

I also would love some randomness in the encounters. As an example, last week he mentioned something about fearing our guys, and we all thought, "Wow! What's that going to do to us? This could be interesting..." And then TC decided we were too high level for that to work. And we were all disappointed.

I think TC's been good, and I appreciate him letting us get accustomed to the game, but I would like the difficulty to ramp up. I think others agree.

I'm not sure if Brian is still planning to do this, but he was thinking of DMing a short campaign for us on Thursday to see how we might be able to make things a little better. I would love to hear from the womenfolk especially on this, since I know us menfolk would pretty much be happy no matter what - we enjoy rolling dice more than you guys do I think.

Ieuan said...

I totally agree with all that. The combat seems to easy (I say "seems" since I don't know what's always going on). John and I have talked on and off about the subject, and I definitely would get more enjoyment from this experience if there was more role playing. I would enjoy a little more of the "non-combat" aspect of it, like going into town, talking to some peeps, buying cool stuff. Since all we do is combat, and that is what I am not good at, I would personally benefit more from going into town and having some sort of "chat time" where we could discuss what weapons and ales to buy. Usually it's a quick "okwhatkindofswordshieldpokyspikythingthatwilldothemostdamage can I buy" and then we're off killing ROUSes. I have to have an opportunity to get my MILF on, and I don't know that a bloody dungeon is the right place for that(that's where I get my Necromancing on).

Taran said...

Ieuan, Ieuan likes her MILF
She's super hot they saaaaay
She spends her days...flirting!
In a tavern, by the motorwaaaay

Lotheryn said...

Yeah, I think I've only lost any HP like once. TC can attack the womenfolk, too. We can handle it. Or at least we can be brought back to life, right?

You know, as an elf-druid, I am starting to feel very tired of being in dark dungeons, caves, etc. with the stank of blood and decay. I think I am developing a vitamin D deficiency. Anca is starting to get a little stir-crazy, too. He needs to get out in the fresh air, run a bit, and stretch his legs. And we don't want Anca getting to cranky now, do we?

So how about some nice forests, or meadows of wildflowers, by a stream... I am looking for flower, you know. I didn't leave my grove to become some kind of a bounty hunter, even if it is for a good cause.

Lord Bolt said...

wait, we're doing D&D on Thursday? I thought we were getting back to our roots and kicking it on some old school Settlers action... or Puerto Rico.. you know, "sweeping the streets we used to own," Chris Martin-style.

on the D&D side, I don't think TC is incapable of hitting with a little roleplaying action. he probably isn't so much into the "bring it off the page" style of storytelling... to some people that's a more natural way of doing things. but we're not really giving TC a fair chance... when he DOES try to explain to us the background of what's going on, we usually do one of two things:
a. we don't listen.
b. we make a joke about molesting someone.
So whether or not TC's style meshes with our "vision" of how much roleplaying we should do, we probably haven't given him the impression that we really care too much one way or another. i mean, TC occasionally drops voices on us and simulates evil dragons, so i don't think his style is diametrically opposed to ours... I think he would do his best to tailor the experience to what we want.

at the end of the day, I'm having a great time the way we are doing things now. i'm open to adding a bit of a roleplaying element if that's what everybody wants, but I'm also hesitant to say I want to see us change anything too drastically because like I said, I'm already having more fun than I thought I would at the beginning.

Moonglum said...

If everyone is up for it, I would like to DM this Thursday if that is ok. I agree with a lot of what has been said here and I have some ideas that I want to try out as a DM. Trying something different might give us a better idea of what we actually like and what we might want to change if possible.

Taran said...

That's a fair point John. And I want to say that whether I came off like it or not, I also enjoy our time playing together and appreciate TC for his dungeon mastering. He's done a great job and really we're just talking about tweaking the gameplay somewhat to make it more interesting for all of us.

I will say as somewhat of a counterpoint that there a couple of reasons I'm not listening when we go through some of the backstory to our adventures. The first is that most of it comes at the beginning of the encounter when we're all getting settled in and I'm making sure everyone has drinks or trying to quell an uprising from one of our children. That's just the way things go sometimes, and we don't have an unlimited amount of time, so we can't always delay until those things are completed. Everyone else is also getting settled in and so may be talking or whatever. The only way to solve this one is to make sure everyone is there and paying attention, possibly deducting experience points for making necrophilia jokes during backstory.

The second is that I might not pay attention because I don't feel like it matters. The few times we've tried to do some roleplaying based on the story, it's mostly gotten us nowhere. So I think we've kind of stopped doing it or mostly do it as a joke. I think the expectation is that we walk into a dungeon, some dude hisses menacingly, and we kill him. Again, I don't mean this to be a criticism of TC - it's just a preference of mine that maybe we can work into our normal gameplay.

But your point stands that there are some ways already available to us that we might be able to work more of a roleplaying element into what we're doing without asking TC to institute wholesale changes to the way he DMs.

Taran said...

Moonglum - I am fine with that. I am also fine with doing something different if people want, but I'd like to see what you have in store for us. And it may give us a better idea about how we want to roll in the future. A lot of us (my voice being the loudest) are clamoring for more story-like RPGing and we may try it and realize that it's not all that great. The way we're doing things may actually be much more fun and may just need some minor adjustments.

So I'm cool with Brian DMing on Thursday.

Moonglum said...

I wanted to comment specifically on a few of the things John and others said in this post. I think that the main thing that we need is for the monsters to be higher level and for there to be more of them. That would solve any problems of them not hitting hard enough, often enough or of them not hitting each of us. In general, it's probably not necessary for TC (or us) to arbitrarily lower any of our stats. We're not as ridiculous as it seems, we just need some harder enemies.

In TC's defense, I've been reading in the Dungeon Master's Guide about Encounter Levels and Combat Ratings and all the other fun ways that they give you to plan a level-appropriate encounter in order to get ready for Thursday and let me tell you, it isn't easy. Without getting into boring details, almost all the help the DM Guide gives is for parties of 4 people. It gives virtually no instruction for a party of our size. I don't think the answer is to make the party smaller, I think we just need a bit of creativity in the fights. Switching to version 4.0 wouldn't hurt either (I've been reading the 4.0 player's handbook and DM guide, and it is beautiful).

Anyway, more/higher level monsters and creative uses of those monsters it what I would like to see more. And I wouldn't mind needing to run away from a fight every now and then.