Monday, January 24, 2011

Only Rewarding Random Success

I am a avid reader of Schlock Mercenary webcomic by Howard Tayler. Today there is a short video loop on his site of him doing a happy dance (because he got his comics done early). There is also a link to the full video on Youtube. After checking out the link I decided to watch one of his other videos "Talent? Who needs Talent?". Now I consider myself a creative person and (slightly) smarter than your average bear. So his lecture was most illuminating. In it he explores that relationship between talent and practice and success at any endevor. For those of you who haven't watched it yet here is what it boils down to. Talent is not responsible in any measurable way for success. Instead he reaffirms the old adage "practice makes perfect".People get to the top by practice. By working at it for a long time. Despite that, it occured to me that we tend to only look at talent as nessesary for success. And our society is obsesed with success. We love "winners". We pour accolades on and practally worship those who eccel at something. And only talented people will succed. That somehow the top of the heap are better than us lesser people. That they are destined for better things. We love the idea of the overnight success story. And as a society we only reward people for their success.The effort is ignored and only the result matters. This view even is present in RPGs. Why do we only get experience points for winning? In D&D you don't get XP for fighting the monster you get it killing it (or otherwise overcoming it). Only success matters. The players can have a good plan for dealing with the monster but ultimately it comes down to random die rolls. And the game rewards talent by having those rolls modified by bonuses for high stats. For example the level 1 fighting man with 18 strength vs a level 3 fighting man with 12 strength. Assume the same hit points for both. The odds favor the higher strength over the greater level. You can argue that the level 3 fighter should have more hit points and therefore last longer in the fight thus winning. But what if that player rolled poorly for hit points. And hit point rolls are modified by high constitution, once again rewarding a "talent".
I have decided that in my game there will not be any personal stat bonuses. They were optional anyway and were added in later supplements to the orginal rules. I feel that they alter the results of a random die roll by something that was itself gained by a random die roll. Thats too much randomness for me. The critics will decry that then stats don't matter. I will still allow the XP bonuses as per the rules as they don't seem too unreasonable. And stats will matter in a different way see my post Using The Numbers . And the other change is that players will get XP for fighting monsters not killing them. As long as you survive the encounter you get the points. The reward will be geared to the effort not the result. And the result will be judged more from good play and less from die rolls.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Blog

Dice of Doom is two years old. As of yesturday. I forgot to post about it. I blame my ADD. Not just gamer ADD but real did-poorly-in-school-and-used-to-take-medication-for-it ADD. But since the first post on January 14 2008 was about the creation of the blog itself and the real first article was the following day I can still celebrate.
I think that my ADD may have had something to do with my fondness for D&D. Like many with ADD I am frequently bored. I need alot of stimulation. And I found it in simulation. When I became to old for acceptable pretend games and I did't care for the structure of drama classes I found D&D. It was more than just a game. It captured my attention and rekindled my imagination. I required you to think and create not just play. I think that the recient versions of the game are more mundane. Just games. Less and less creation and more memorization. D&D was a wonderful uncut diamond in the rough. But as that stone has been cut and polished it has been diminished. This blog will continue to be a refuge for the flawed and imperfect thing that is the original editon style of D&D. Long may it shine.