On Banishing the Design Demon and Having a Cup of Tea
Hey, this series is a little like. . .
Yes. The Quantum Ogre is about agency for players. How to respond to them without shutting them down.
This is about design, and how design can influence creating agency heavy play. How to free yourself from the burden of 'making things realistic' as a design goal, and making your game more fun for the people involved.
I would rather have a balance between verisimilitude and a playable game.
You are right! It's good not one thing I suggested would create a game that doesn't maintain verisimilitude. No option when used as presented would cause problems with suspension of disbelief, unless you are astoundingly uncreative and unoriginal. I don't think it is likely that would be true if you're playing Dungeons & Dragons or even role-playing at all! If it is true and you are really that uncreative and original you have bigger problems then this series of articles. But you are too frigging metal for that!
But you said that you weren't interested in simulating reality!
That's right! But even if I totally ignore that goal, it still happens, because that isn't the responsibility of the Dungeon Master!
Things making sense, coming together, and immersion occur in the minds of the players. My responsibility in the role of Dungeon master is to engage all the players by creating environments that are filled with interesting choices. I'm not interested in it, because I don't need to be for it to happen.
But why ignore it as a goal?
Because if you make it a goal, you end up doing crappy things to your players.
You convince yourself that you must do things in order to make your game more realistic. Then when you do them, you make your game less fun. Otherwise I would never hear things like "searching empty rooms becomes tedious."
The rules are a method to give us guidelines for simulation, that's what gives us interesting choice.
Sure that's one way of looking at it. It's certainly possible that it results in interesting choice. However if you decide that your primary concern is simulation, you are guaranteeing sooner or later (hint: it's sooner) that you will be spending time on things that don't provide interesting choices.
Make interesting choices the design goal and by design, you will never spend any time making things that are boring and without choices that have interesting and significant consequences.
So every encounter must be interesting and related to the players?
Absolutely not! the whole point is to create variety in encounters so that interest is maintained.
Often this means you design nothing to happen.
Does avoiding mother may I mean that players always succeed at anything they try?
This has to do with table style of play. My players never ask for permission to do anything, nor do they ever have to wonder what might happen if they take an action.
I give options and either their likely outcomes or what resolution we will use for an outcome. If something unexpected comes up, we talk about it as a table. This falls under techniques to increase agency in play.
Doesn't this take a long time? How are players supposed to search everything?
I would say that this process is certainly longer then simply rolling a die. Considering it is actually what game-play consists of and the most entertaining part of play, then I would say the fact that it takes a long time is a positive thing.
I am curious why people think players should search everything. There is no pre-determined outcome and no reason the players are entitled to find everything. If they get bored of searching or are upset because they are triggering traps, then let them know that they are free to choose to do something else.
If they are complaining of boredom, look first to your design, then to their choices.
But if you design every encounter, you're destroying the greatest strength of Role Playing Games! Players able to do creative things to solve problems.
Why? What about creating deliberate interesting choices prevents the players from coming up with new creative ideas?
You gave examples of rolling for finding traps and searching. I thought you were against that?
I'm against rolls that eliminate interesting game play and increase tedium.
This is the 'end' of the Design Demon series. Further questions will be added to those above.