Doug Pirko (waiwode) wrote in roleplayers,
Doug Pirko
waiwode
roleplayers

Training Times, a Pet Peeve.

Forgive the quick fiction vignette that illustrates my point before I begin:

"Come along, Alhundro! You were right, the scrap of cloth you found in the victim's hand is of Balmoran weave! I feel our old rival Cloisier is up to his old evil again."

"Alas, Desdemona, I may not. For I have (spent seven experience points on new skills and/or gained a level or technique and/or changed career paths) and must ride across Eiderwyn to a distant mountain fortress, where I must train for three weeks! Hopefully Cloisier will still be up to his evil tricks when I return! Farewell!

*sigh*

Training time. Ever since AD&D 1, I've always disliked it. It's so darn disruptive to any game with several on-going situations. This is especially true of players' characters in an urban environment, or in the center of a larger, external conflict being played out as a back-drop.

Every player has a goal or three for their character that they'd like to be pursuing. Being forced by a game mechanic to stop pursuing your goals? It's counter-intuitive to the players' fun. It breaks up the flow of the game. It is, essentially, icky.

And as the group closes in on a goal, should they all sit on their hands (or be forced to spend exp so they can train during this gap) while you train, or do you get left out because you decide to train? It seems inelegant at the best of times.

Hutch never flew out to West Virginia for a course on hood-sliding being offered by the Feds, leaving Starsky and Huggy Bear to crack the case on their own.

To clarify: I have no problem with games that have a "training mechanic" that moves around spending down-time hours to get better at things. The GM and players can decide on when down-time occurs, and how it is spent.

I specifically have a problem when the rewards of the system, be it total experience granting you a level, or experience that you gain then spend in some manner, results in an effective penalty: your forcible withdrawal from the on-going situation so that you pay for your improvement both in "out-of-game administration" and "in game."

Am I alone in this?


D&D offers several challenges to the no-training position. Some classes, fighters for example, frequently* have no real external connections, neither cultural nor institutional.

However Wizards (and similar prestige classes) have many institutional challenges. How do you get new spells in the middle of the dungeon? Who teaches you to be able to cipher these new spells?

And Barbarians (and similar prestige classes) have cultural challenges. One doesn't just say, "I want to be a really tough Sorceror/Thief, so I'm tossing in a level of Barbarian." In theory one should actually be a barbarian (even if it wasn't your first class).

There are times when some sort of training realy should be required, but they should be the exception, not the rule.

D&D does offer an advantage that many non-level systems lack, to minimize the disruption caused by training. Even accounting for individual exp bonuses, assuming the party stays together most of the time they are all going to level up at roughly the same time. Where in WW's Vampire game the woodsy Gangrel vampire's player may fritter away exp at one to three points at a time to pad out some low level skills he wanted to work on, but the Tremere vampire-mage's player may have saved 15 exp, and spent them all on new sorcerous powers, and the character may be forced to fly to Vienna (or Kansas City, or Kathmandu) to learn a new path of Vampiric sorcery.

*If you are playing in setting similar to India, where the Vedic caste system has a dozen "soldier/ruler" castes, cultural reasons may prevent wizards (or whatever) from just taking a level of fighter.

Doug.
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