On a Comment on Historical Clarity
Jeremy Murphy made a comment that provides remarkable clarity to yesterday's post. He says:
"It's so nice to see that the lovely spirit of "you're playing it wrong" which so pervades the "OSR" is still alive and strong.
Please, by all means try to convince yourself that your imaginary elf is somehow superior to another imaginary elf. And do your level best to convince yourself that you aren't in to codified make-believe for wish fulfillment.
This sort of commentary is *exactly* why people are shaking their heads at "angry grognards". Wait... were you being sarcastic?"
I think this could not be a better opportunity to clarify what I mean.
Jeremy's argument, as I understand it, is that there is no type of wrong fun -- That there is no wrong way to play the game, as long as people are having fun.
The thing is, when I sit down to play Dungeons & Dragons, I am not doing anything not proscribed mechanically. I am playing a game. I play it by the rules. When I play games such as poker, Dungeons and Dragons, or chess, I screw around. I talk in funny voices and have a good time with my friends. This is not the play of the game.
There is one way to make a pathfinder character. Some options are selected and then the character is made with that. There are mechanical techniques for generating characters and handling combat in 4th edition.
If you decide to add something in the game and have it affect the game that there isn't a mechanical system for because you feel you 'should' or it seems like a good idea; then D&D is well structured to take that into account. However it is not playing the way the game is designed.
What I am saying, in yesterday's post is that the gameplay in a 0e, B/X, or even 1e, game is about gathering information and making choices. And that style of gameplay has nothing to do with wish fulfillment. It has to do with making decisions or accepting the consequences of your good or poor judgement.
Of course I am aware of how Pathfinder and 4e support exploration and some of the similar decision-making processes in old-style games, but they do so in a mechanically slanted, character build focused way. At best it is less about your plan, and more about taking actions that target statistical likelihoods, because even if you search in the right place, you can still fail your roll.
Are their ways of working around this? Of course, but that is rule 0 and cannot excuse what is actually written in the rules.
So I can say that yes, if you want to talk about all the cool powers your elf has, than 'what powers you have' is about wish-fulfillment.
And I don't desire wish-fulfillment, because I am not a teenager. I am empowered and in charge of my life. What I seek is that my choices have meaning. What I seek is accountability. What I seek is adventure.
Not to move four squares and activate my daily that buffs my friend.