September 10th, 2002


more D&D ideas

* when a cleric prays for spells, why not have them pray for *generic* types of spells? Thus, they could anticipate, say, something to heal, stun an enemy, etc., but not CLW, Daze, etc. Then, when casting, they simply pray for something (appropriate) to happen... and it does. It seems this would preserve the flavor of divine magic much better.

* for all spellcasters: disallow knowledge of spell stats without seperate research. One shouldn't know the exact diameter and whatnot; magic is inherently mystical... at least in my worlds.

* on a similar note, add more variability to magic. Instead of having a fireball be the exact same diameter every time, make it slightly random (but normally within about the same range). This would also eliminate the munchkinite practice of precisely targeting fireballs to optimally hit exact foes.

* reflex saves, when appropriate, should actually result in a movement on the character's part, and deduct from their alloted amount of total movement. Sorry, but if you're busy dodging left and right, you don't have a helluvalot of time to run in some direction. High reflexes might allow you to direct the spot of your landing.

* exactly how obvious are certain special abilities? For example, a paladin's detect evil at will - do they have to mutter something? Wave their arms around? Extreme staring? Some sort of visible manifestation of the result? (e.g., itching, glowing hand, color-change, etc.)

* painful healing (e.g., by a cleric of a not-so-happy god) should have some limited effects... like making you somewhat dazed for a short while while recovering from the pain

* emotions should play a larger part, to the extent of granting gamerule bonuses. Barbarians aren't the only ones who can fly into a murderous rage; ordinary people do too. Though of course not with quite the same potency or control. Ditto for other morale issues; dragons may have a *magical* aura of fear, but that doesn't mean you can't be (literally) scared shitless of skeletons. Especially if you're not exactly the well-armored ass-kicking type. Again: less potent, but still relevant.

a more controlversial idea

To put it shortly: no dice rolling.

All would be "rolled" by the DM.

Now before you start about the extreme burden this would be, let me mention a very simple allevation: a computer (or otherwise) generated chart, with (say) 50 rolls of the various dice and stats set up ahead of time. Then you just cross off each one as you go along.

"d8 - 4 9 2 4 2 8 ...
Conan's Fort - 1+5 3+5 7+5 ..."
[for fort, the first is the d20 roll, the second the modifier; I find it helpful to know both]

I realize that feeling the dice, the heft of 5d6, etc., is an important part of the game to some people. For those people: keep it.

But dispensing with the dice would free players - and DMs - from a lot of the metagaming BS. It is still *just* as random. If properly generated, it can be even *more* fair than physical rolling. It's faster (just check off one number). It's quiet (yes, that kills the metagaming DM intimdation tactic, but that can be good).

Some will complain that "it takes the control away from players". I say: bullshit. Yes, a trollish statement to some ears.

But the fact remains that for some (such as myself), this is meant to be a *ROLE PLAYING* game. Emphasis very strongly intended. You are not playing the rolls of dice. You are playing a character... and everything metagame - including dice, and stat knowledge, and all the rest - contributes to breaking the continuum. Breaking, as it were, the suspension of disbelief needed to maintain immersion.

You do not "control" your character - player and DM alike - by your control of dice. If so, you're cheating. You control them by choosing their actions, behaviors, and so on.

I should also point out that for groups willing to accept this, it would eliminate most of the "powergaming" and other GM-annoying habits that are so easy to lapse into. (Granted, there are some DMs who enjoy a game of that sort; if you're one such, enjoy, and ignore me.)

Another, even more drastic possibility is to remove players' knowledge of their own stats. Yet another sacred cow, I know.

But if the GM gives appropriate feedback on status, is fair, and works *with* playerrs, this should not be a problem. Players can still state their characters' actions; they can still have relative ideas about their abilities (which may well be skewed and need to be reshaped by experience, as should be); and can still choose to study as they wish.

Some of you will want to immediately denounce me as a heretic or anti-D&D. I am neither. I still like D&D as a base system for the GM to use. But I see no in-game, in-character reason for the players to be interacting with metagame concepts at all; that is entirely the domain of a capable GM.

Think about this a bit before replying, please.