What Was Gygax Thinking?

sharps54

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So is the idea that the rules as written were "fun"...:shade:


The ones with speed factors of the weapons, right?

*raises hand*

(Not for long, but then I didn't keep with that group).
Yes, whether trying to do your best to play RAW is “fun” will vary depending on the group. As for weapons speed I don’t understand why people make a big thing of it, you only use it in a few situations like tied initiative or against a spell caster casting in melee. Most fights come and go with weapon speed never being used.
 

Arminius

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I always took reading scrolls, especially by non-professionals, as being from Leiber rather than Vance.
Well there’s an incident in one of the Cugel books where he uses a spell; not sure if it was directly from a book or scroll, and gets it backwards. I can’t think of anything like that in the Lankhmar stories other than Mouser doing some magic early on, in his “origin story”, when he was apprenticed to a wizard of some sort.
 

Toadmaster

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Perhaps, but also frustrated authors can make the worst GM's...

Oh sure, that guy who sees the players as his audience for story time. I'd say it is a toss up between super boring GM who mechanically goes through the motions and really creative guy who doesn't let the players really do anything except advance his tale, but at least it is a good yarn. I think worst is super boring GM who thinks he is a really creative author type.
 

Sharrow

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In 5e:

DM: Okay everyone there's a 10ft long chasm full of acid.
Fighter: Ok I got this, I have the best Athletics of all of you.
Wizard: Misty Step
Warlock: Misty Step.
Rogue: (Arcan Trickster): Misty Step
Paladin: Misty Step.
DM: Is that a Paladin spell?
Paladin: Subclass.
Fighter: Aahh. I jump, time to show off my excellent Athletics ability.
DM spends 5 minutes trying to find jump rules.
Fighter. I roll a 3.
DM: Splash.

(This exact situation happened in a game).
The Fighter's player clearly didn't read the memo and wasn't an Eldritch Knight. Oh, wait - they can't learn it until 8th level, so they might well be SOL anyway.
 

Voros

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What would you consider the primary literary source for the thief depicted in D&D? I'm not familiar with any fiction that offers a good example of the D&D thief. Bilbo is as good as I can offer, and as pointed out he was at best a naturally talented but inexperienced burglar.

I'm not super familiar with The Grey Mouser but he doesn't seem a good example of the D&D thief or they would have been better fighters than they were (only mages were worse). Conan was often thief like in his early career, but he is an even worse example for a D&D thief than he is an example of the D&D Barbarian.

Thieves world wasn't released until 1979, so D&D was more likely an influence on the fiction, than it being an influence on the game although by B/X it could be the source for the idea only humans can be thieves.

Definitely Gray Mouser.
 

Arminius

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I've read a lot of fantasy, but The Dying Earth and Lankmar series are two big ones I really need to get around to reading at least a little of since they come up so often.
They’re both not only good stories but also written several cuts above the typical SF&F. (Exception: much of the Knight and Knave of Swords is tough going—I think Leiber was losing his marbles or letting his freak flag fly, and nobody was around to edit him or something).
 

Sharrow

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Well there’s an incident in one of the Cugel books where he uses a spell; not sure if it was directly from a book or scroll, and gets it backwards. I can’t think of anything like that in the Lankhmar stories other than Mouser doing some magic early on, in his “origin story”, when he was apprenticed to a wizard of some sort.
He uses a scroll in one of the later stories, and it sort of does what it was advertised as doing (which was not what the Mouser was intending).
 

Toadmaster

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They’re both not only good stories but also written several cuts above the typical SF&F. (Exception: much of the Knight and Knave of Swords is tough going—I think Leiber was losing his marbles or letting his freak flag fly, and nobody was around to edit him or something).

It isn't an intentional omission, both have been on my reading list forever. It is just a long list and my reading time is not as prolific as I'd like. The one thing I miss from public transportation is how much reading I got done before I had a car.
 

Sable Wyvern

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raise your hand if you ever used the full initiative rules from AD&D 1e
I used all the elements (eg, segmented casting time, weapon speed, etc), but I didn't use them all the same way they were written.

Also, as I recall, the back of the PHB briefly discusses it's own one-on-one initiative system, so anyone claiming to use the full initiative rules would have to factor that in.
 

Doctor Wombat

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Is it really a surprise that a handheld generation would want to play games that handhold them with rules for everything?

Yeah, back in my day, we cut our teeth on games like Squad Leader and Third Reich, which were famous for encouraging you to just make shit up. :grin:

(Seriously, after playing some of those super-crunchy Avalon Hill and SPI war games, AD&D 1E seemed pretty rules-lite by comparison.)
 

raniE

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What I never get is the idea that dice should only be rolled in stressful situations.

This has always seemed to be a response to games that get their probabilty wrong more than anything.

I mean if I'm searching a desk for hidden compartments, I'm probably not doing it to find the key that will turn off the bomb with 60 seconds left on the counter most of the time.

I tend to think as well, that while it's good GMing to not make PCs roll for things that are generally quite easy to do, some GMs are going to call for rolls anyway, and in particular newer GMs, so I generally prefer to have a system that still allows a resolution where my athletic character can climb a tree and succeed more than 90% of the time if he is asked to roll.
The problem with that approach is that to have anywhere near a reasonable chance of success for mundane tasks you need an extremely granular resolution method, because you need to be able to have a 99,9% chance of success at least. 90% chance of success for an ordinary task is terrible. If I was that bad at my job where I was fucking up 10% of the time I would be having constant conversations with my boss about improving the quality of my work. But once you get into an adventure situation, that granularity is just unnecessary. So you either write game to suit regular life, or high adventure. I prefer high adventure.
 

Baulderstone

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A modified choose your own adventure was popular for a bit. I think the solo / guided adventure is a really useful technique to help new GMs. They can run it as a solo to learn how stuff works and learn the module some, then run it as a training wheels adventure with players to get used to the GM side of the table. That works for teaching the basics anyway.

Actually developing from a technically competent (knows the rules) GM, to one that is actually fun to play with takes more effort, but that only comes with experience and learning what the table wants / expects, more fights, open landscape or breadcrumb trails, humor, deep philosophical debates with NPCs, funny voices etc is just not going to be the same from group to group.

Technically competent isn't exciting but a lot better than doesn't have a clue and at least provides a good starting point.



Sure, I think a lot of GMs start off as basically wargames referees making the dungeon crawl a great place to start.

I can remember drawing up maps that were basically just boxes in the ground holding monsters and treasure. Over time I started drawing up towns and villages that were basically just above ground boxes holding encounters. Eventually I started thinking about why things were where they were, and how they fit into the bigger picture.

On the other hand, I've seen comments by art directors about how hard it is to get just what you want from some artists - you say you want changes, the artist sends back a new version that's almost exactly the old version just at the deadline so there's no time for more revisions, and thus the artist basically gets their way.
Sure, but you don't hire those people again. They may be good artists, but they are bad illustrators.
 

raniE

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In 5e:

DM: Okay everyone there's a 10ft long chasm full of acid.
Fighter: Ok I got this, I have the best Athletics of all of you.
Wizard: Misty Step
Warlock: Misty Step.
Rogue: (Arcan Trickster): Misty Step
Paladin: Misty Step.
DM: Is that a Paladin spell?
Paladin: Subclass.
Fighter: Aahh. I jump, time to show off my excellent Athletics ability.
DM spends 5 minutes trying to find jump rules.
Fighter. I roll a 3.
DM: Splash.

(This exact situation happened in a game).
Then the DM failed. Jumping is fixed distance in 5e, you cover a number of feet equal to your Strength score if you do a running long jump. Unless the Fighter had a Strength score of 9 or less he jumps that with no athletics check required. So does everyone else with a Strength score greater than 9.
 

Sable Wyvern

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The problem with that approach is that to have anywhere near a reasonable chance of success for mundane tasks you need an extremely granular resolution method, because you need to be able to have a 99,9% chance of success at least. 90% chance of success for an ordinary task is terrible. If I was that bad at my job where I was fucking up 10% of the time I would be having constant conversations with my boss about improving the quality of my work. But once you get into an adventure situation, that granularity is just unnecessary. So you either write game to suit regular life, or high adventure. I prefer high adventure.
The Routine column on the Rolemaster Moving Manoeuver table is a good example of this. Using it for routine tasks in routine situations would mostly be a waste of time, while occasionally resulting in people falling over or injuring themselves for no real reason.

However, I realised what the column is there for one day when I had a PC with a broken leg and whatever other injuries, enjoying an ale in a pub, and who wanted to stand up in a hurry to deal with some thugs or other annoying NPCs that were harassing other PCs.

Standing up from a chair? That's definitely Routine, and I wouldn't usually call for a roll at all, but lets add up all your penalties and find out if you can actually manage it, under the circumstances.

Edit: As an aside, the MM Table is, IMO, the distilled essence of RM. It's a table, full of numbers, and it looks unnecessarily complicated and esoteric, but once you work out how to use it, it is one of the most versatile tools I've come across in any RPG.
 

TJS

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Then the DM failed. Jumping is fixed distance in 5e, you cover a number of feet equal to your Strength score if you do a running long jump. Unless the Fighter had a Strength score of 9 or less he jumps that with no athletics check required. So does everyone else with a Strength score greater than 9.
Then it was obviously further that. I can't remember the exact distance.

Probably what happened was that it was too far to jump via the rules, so the DM allowed a roll to do it anyway.
 

TJS

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The problem with that approach is that to have anywhere near a reasonable chance of success for mundane tasks you need an extremely granular resolution method, because you need to be able to have a 99,9% chance of success at least. 90% chance of success for an ordinary task is terrible. If I was that bad at my job where I was fucking up 10% of the time I would be having constant conversations with my boss about improving the quality of my work. But once you get into an adventure situation, that granularity is just unnecessary. So you either write game to suit regular life, or high adventure. I prefer high adventure.
Fail incongrously 1 time in 10 is a lot better than it happening 1 in 2.

And of course if you use a bell curve resolution, it's a lot easier to have chances of success that are much better.

This is an issue that intends to arise most in certain kinds of systems.
 

raniE

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Then it was obviously further that. I can't remember the exact distance.

that or the DM couldn’t find the rules for jumping, panicked and then made a bad ruling. It happens.
Probably what happened was that it was too far to jump via the rules, so the DM allowed a roll to do it anyway.
 

raniE

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Fail incongrously 1 time in 10 is a lot better than it happening 1 in 2.

But both are going to be shit when you roll constantly. I would just prefer the system that says “don’t roll for everything”. If we’re going to roll for everything that could possibly fail, here are some tasks I’ve messed up in real life: walk in a straight line on asphalt, chew, swallow, open a car trunk, close a door, get into a car.

I don’t think anyone advocates rolling for walking or chewing, but I don’t see why we should draw the line there and roll for only marginally more difficult actions than that, instead of just rolling for things that are inherently dangerous and/or done under high pressure.
And of course if you use a bell curve resolution, it's a lot easier to have chances of success that are much better.

Sure, but those all tend to add in automatic failures at around 5%, so you’re still stuck there.
This is an issue that intends to arise most in certain kinds of systems.
 

Agemegos

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Well there’s an incident in one of the Cugel books where he uses a spell; not sure if it was directly from a book or scroll, and gets it backwards. I can’t think of anything like that in the Lankhmar stories other than Mouser doing some magic early on, in his “origin story”, when he was apprenticed to a wizard of some sort.
There's a bit in The Lords of Quarmall (which is in Swords Against Wizardry) in which the Gray Mouser reads a spell from a scroll and kills all the magicians in Quarmall.
 

TJS

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that or the DM couldn’t find the rules for jumping, panicked and then made a bad ruling. It happens.
No. Because as I said. He looked up the rules.

I suspect it was actually 20ft, because we actually looked up the world long jump record and noted that a 5e Fighter has no chance of actually equalling it.
 

Arminius

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Yup, see the blog post I linked above. I didn’t remember that one. I don’t know why but I wasn’t too crazy about the Quarmall story when I read it. The quoted bits from the blog are more entertaining than I remembered—could be I was reading before bed and was half asleep. Now I’ve made a note to re-read. (I really don’t think anything can redeem some of the longer stories in the last couple books, though, but even those have some nice short stories.)
 

ffilz

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The problem with that approach is that to have anywhere near a reasonable chance of success for mundane tasks you need an extremely granular resolution method, because you need to be able to have a 99,9% chance of success at least. 90% chance of success for an ordinary task is terrible. If I was that bad at my job where I was fucking up 10% of the time I would be having constant conversations with my boss about improving the quality of my work. But once you get into an adventure situation, that granularity is just unnecessary. So you either write game to suit regular life, or high adventure. I prefer high adventure.
This is where the normal distribution as used in Cold Iron can work well. You can distribute results in a bell curve and then determine your chance and roll it. If you figure out the right scale you can even convert from the Chance Adjustment the chart produces into a numerical value, jumping distance for example. If you have an average and a standard deviation and know the results fit a bell curve you’re in luck.
 

Telok

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But both are going to be shit when you roll constantly. I would just prefer the system that says “don’t roll for everything”.
The big issue issue is three fold: 1. Communicating when to roll and what to roll. 2. Understanding that people, especially novices, make mistakes and the game session/adventure shouldn't fall apart after a couple of them. 3. Thread drift.

I think 5e basically failed to communicate, in a way many novices or non-statistics savvy understand, the when and how of their non-combat ability check subsystem. Then it compounded that by setting up all it's rolls as binary total success or total failure and giving players zero input to the system to rules-wise alter the probabilities (fast talk the DM being a non-rules method) or alleviate any failures.

Number 3 is just the internet.
 

Voros

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I'm apparently one of the few fans of the later Mouser/Fafhrd stories. I think Leiber was going deeper and darker in those stories.

'The Mouser Goes Below' I consider one of his best.

Swords of Lankhmar I consider his most perverse and best of the series, only challenged by the pitch perfect 'Lean Times in Lankhmar.'
 

T. Foster

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Yup, see the blog post I linked above. I didn’t remember that one. I don’t know why but I wasn’t too crazy about the Quarmall story when I read it. The quoted bits from the blog are more entertaining than I remembered—could be I was reading before bed and was half asleep. Now I’ve made a note to re-read. (I really don’t think anything can redeem some of the longer stories in the last couple books, though, but even those have some nice short stories.)
Lords of Quarmall was started by Harry Fischer (Leiber’s friend with whom he co-created Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser as alter-egos of themselves*) and Leiber only finished it, so it does have a different feel and style than the other stories and it’s not surprising you’d find it second-rate.

*Fafhrd was based on Leiber and the Mouser on Fischer. The original plan was they would both write stories about them but only Leiber ended up actually doing so, because he had a rich/famous father who paid his expenses while Fischer didn’t and had to work for a living which didn’t allow free time for writing
 

TristramEvans

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I'm apparently one of the few fans of the later Mouser/Fafhrd stories

Nah, they are quite beloved. I'm not even a sword & sorcery fiction fan in general, and I own a complete set of the Lankhmar stories.

I never thought D&D did them much justice though.
 

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I'm apparently one of the few fans of the later Mouser/Fafhrd stories. I think Leiber was going deeper and darker in those stories.

'The Mouser Goes Below' I consider one of his best.

Swords of Lankhmar I consider his most perverse and best of the series, only challenged by the pitch perfect 'Lean Times in Lankhmar.'
Lean Times in Lankhmar is probably my #1 favorite piece of fantasy fiction, and one of my favorite short stories of any genre.
 

raniE

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No. Because as I said. He looked up the rules.

You wrote that he tried to look up the jump rules for five minutes and then made the Fighter make an Athletics check to jump. You were there, so if you say he found the rules I believe you, but that isn’t what you wrote earlier.
I suspect it was actually 20ft, because we actually looked up the world long jump record and noted that a 5e Fighter has no chance of actually equalling it.
Not that weird, the 5e Fighter is jumping wearing armor, a backpack, weapons etc. So the jumping distance is shorter than the long jump world record because we’re not playing athletes wearing almost nothing and jumping into a sand pit. If you ever do get into such a competition with your Fighter, that’s absolutely a point where I’d say “roll Athletics to see how much further you jump than your regular jumping distance”. But that’s not the kind of jump I want the jumping rules in an action adventure game to be based on.
 

TJS

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Not that weird, the 5e Fighter is jumping wearing armor, a backpack, weapons etc. So the jumping distance is shorter than the long jump world record because we’re not playing athletes wearing almost nothing and jumping into a sand pit. If you ever do get into such a competition with your Fighter, that’s absolutely a point where I’d say “roll Athletics to see how much further you jump than your regular jumping distance”. But that’s not the kind of jump I want the jumping rules in an action adventure game to be based on.
You're making up something to argue against here.
 

Voros

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The big issue issue is three fold: 1. Communicating when to roll and what to roll. 2. Understanding that people, especially novices, make mistakes and the game session/adventure shouldn't fall apart after a couple of them. 3. Thread drift.

I think 5e basically failed to communicate, in a way many novices or non-statistics savvy understand, the when and how of their non-combat ability check subsystem. Then it compounded that by setting up all it's rolls as binary total success or total failure and giving players zero input to the system to rules-wise alter the probabilities (fast talk the DM being a non-rules method) or alleviate any failures.

Number 3 is just the internet.

There a degree of success optional rule in the DMG.
 

Voros

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Lean Times in Lankhmar is probably my #1 favorite piece of fantasy fiction, and one of my favorite short stories of any genre.

It is brilliant for sure, as you say one of the finest fantasy short stories I've ever read. And it's hilarious. Leiber had the chops to be accepted as a literary writer we're lucky he stuck with genre writing.
 

Arminius

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Aside from “The Mouser Goes Below”, the other story in the later collections that I think has limited appeal/acceptance is “Rime Isle”. It’s certainly one I didn’t care for, and not just because of the “edgy” elements. It does have one or two interesting developments in the overall saga of the main characters, though.

I remember very much enjoying “The Frost Monstreme” and “The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars”.
 

opaopajr

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easy is a 50% chance...just trying to think how many things I do in my life that I have even close to a 50% chance at failing at.

Not much

maybe "easy" is just a poorly chosen term for it

This. Basic math of it has Very Easy at 25% failure; y'know 75% success that happy space where people psychologically feel is a "saddle point" to acceptable risk and feelings of competency. This is just gross communication error.

I've said since the beginning around 2014 that this table was outright wrong in same-paging people's expectations. I run off the principle of people's understanding: Assume Novice (a.k.a. today as "Noob" for 'Newbie' :tongue: ), build up to Journeymen if they desire, let them refine themselves to Pro. And the biggest tragedy was all an editor had to do is add the concept of 'Not Rolling for Everything' and add another difficulty descriptor.

Shift the whole chart down by 5. Very Easy = No Roll Needed, Easy = DC 5, ..., Near Impossible = DC 25, "Miraculous" = 30. Done.

You've same-paged most people without lengthy discussions. AND taught GMs how to smoothe over colorful trivialities that come up in play. AND to do so without dragging down the game with "roll until failure" or "need max bonuses to play" conceptual failures.

That way Stabilizing a Dying person without already-made supplies is better understood as Moderate = DC 10 AND the value of using a Healing Kit's supplies (5sp; $0.50 per use) immediately turning that instead into Very Easy = No Roll. I've explained that as such a few times in AL tables and elsewhere and nearly everyone immediately nodded saying that that made more sense. You have to reach the most people with references and expectations that they can relate; to speak to where they are, not where you wished them to be.
 

Toadmaster

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The big issue issue is three fold: 1. Communicating when to roll and what to roll. 2. Understanding that people, especially novices, make mistakes and the game session/adventure shouldn't fall apart after a couple of them. 3. Thread drift.

I think 5e basically failed to communicate, in a way many novices or non-statistics savvy understand, the when and how of their non-combat ability check subsystem. Then it compounded that by setting up all it's rolls as binary total success or total failure and giving players zero input to the system to rules-wise alter the probabilities (fast talk the DM being a non-rules method) or alleviate any failures.

Number 3 is just the internet.

Not only when to roll, but also what is failure?

Failure can be described in many ways. Take making a sword, a fail could mean simply it takes longer than expected, the sword is ruined but can be recycled so just start over, or it is ruined and the material is wasted, there is an undetected flaw all the way up to the smith fell into the forge make a save vs fire or take 10d6 damage.

For some reason failure is often assumed to be catastrophic or at least severe. In reality it is not that a competent worker is 100% but simply a failure at most skills is not noticed because it is just an inconvenience.

The K key is sticky and you didn't tap it hard enough filling your report with typos, spend 20% more time for editing.
You cut twice measured once wasting some material, add 10% to your expenses on the dining room set you made.
You messed up the portions mis-spicing the stew. It is edible but not up to standard. The food critic (added pressure which forced the roll when a roll usually wouldn't be required) only gives you a 6/10 on his review.
 

Telok

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There a degree of success optional rule in the DMG.
I've never even heard of anyone using it. The misapprehension of natural 20s always succeeding is far more common. I see people talking about unironically houseruling in critical fumbles on 1s as a "good idea" more often than I've seen that thing even get mentioned on the internet. Its practically the platonic ideal of a waste of space.
 
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