Thursday, August 18, 2011

Creativity, Standardization, and Cranky Grognards

It's funny how the mind can correlate unrelated blog posts.

Today I was over at Alexis's place - he's been railing against the RJK interview that happened over on the Hill Cantons.  Anyway, one of his many theses seems to be that D&D needs standardization (bear in mind, the only right way to play D&D is his way).  So I'm just another useless blogger.  Man, I love that guy.

Then you read about Ark and his frustration with 4E.  We played 4E for almost two years before returning to classic D&D; we know all about it.  Let me tell you, 4E is chock full of standardization.  Mountains of standards.  Rules and a core system that cover everything.  Go check out Ark's piece to see how he really feels about all those mechanics.

Then I'm over at Grognardia reading how Ed Greenwood doesn't bother with the rule book or roll the dice unless its combat, adjudicates all the non-combat bits by pure DM fiat, and it's a rip-roaring session.

The Standard for old school play needs to be Creative DMs.  There, I've solved it.

Edit:  Added Links
Alexis argues for conformity and standards
Ark rails against 4E's Mechanics
Grognardia recounts gaming with Ed Greenwood


  1. Yes, I agree 100%. Creative DM's can make or break a night of gaming.

  2. I'm with you. A lot of bytes are wasted on telling other people how they oughta play or how the way they play sucks. I'm not sure what people get out of it, but then I don't understand painting one's face for sporting events, either. I just want see people give me creative stuff I can use or that inspires me.

  3. "The Standard for old school play needs to be Creative DMs. There, I've solved it."
    Yep. Sums it all up nicely.

  4. Links to what you are talking about would be nice. That's the standard for blogging.

  5. The Standard for old school play needs to be Creative DMs. There, I've solved it.

    Yep. If old school games have a "failing," it's that there's no way to bottle (or even mechanize) the creativity necessary to run a fun campaign with them. We're all at the mercy of our DMs and, for some, that realization is an intolerable one.

  6. @Claytonian
    Yeah, that's fair - I was in a hurry earlier. Added links.

    I agree - something I'd like to see more bloggers discuss is their successful table techniques that translate into good games.

  7. Beedo, I thank you.

    You nailed it.

    The Creative DM doesn't find the answer.
    The Creative DM doesn't create the answer.

    The Creative DM is the answer.

    The DM must be everyone else other than the players, so from a 'character' viewpoint - the DM is the game.

    Please note the 'blog journey' contained in the content of the post above - 'visits' to many sources, zeroing in on the simple, final answer that does not give in to the idolatry of worldbuilding, or modules, or rules minutiae. The DM is the ultimate 'bottleneck'.

    That's why later editions were designed to minimize the DM's ability to damage the 'experience'.

    That's why the belief that modules ruined the game (or glorified it with canon) is false and deceptive.

    That's why 2E and onward put so much focus on the 'player' to keep the printers churning.

    @Claytonian: visit the Tao of D&D and bring extra flares if you get lost in the hall of mirrors...

  8. Cranky. lol. I need someone to burp me and get me my binky.

    Creative GMs - that's a great standard. I like that. It makes the colic go away.


    - Ark

  9. something I'd like to see more bloggers discuss is their successful table techniques that translate into good games.

    It's funny that this gets short shrift in online discussion since it's so central to what makes or breaks a game as you point out. I spend more time offline thinking about this stuff truth be told than I do on. A strange disconnect.

    It'd be interesting to see a series of active GMing bloggers trot out say three things they think they do well and go from there.

  10. @ckutalik - you and the memes - I swear. :) I like the idea. Three things. You go first, then tag me 'it' and I'll go. Pinky swear and everything.

    - Ark

  11. Ark, that suddenly reminded me of college friends shouting at me to jump down into the old quarry. "We are right behind you."

    Seriously though I am a-gonna do it, would be an interesting thing to see what shakes out.

  12. @ckutalik - You made me laugh and inhale a piece of popcorn and I almost died.

    But really, I'm really really really right behind you. Honest. I just have to think of three things I do consistently enough in a game to analyze whether they are beneficial or not. Hmmmm.

    - Ark

  13. Let's do it! I'm all in on the "Build a Better DM" challenge and seeing if we can get folks to discuss their table techniques.

    Here's an example - not to pick on Trollsmyth - but I see he's putting out a series of articles on building a hex crawl. And then today he posts, 'This isn't how I actually run a hexcrawl at all - I improvise!'

    Okay, while I may be misquoting a bit for comedic effect - since the hexcrawl build is still a foundation - the point stands - there's a gap between what folks post to their blogs as 'creative output' and what's actually used and needed at the table. And the next question becomes - okay, you improvise - how do you do it and what can I learn from your techniques that would improve how I improvise at the table?

  14. Jump, jump:

  15. Tag, ckutalik - YOU are it! Nyah Nyah :) -

    - Ark

  16. I swear, it is like watching a parade.

  17. I know Alexis. Isn't it great? I love parades.

    I call dibs on being the guy on the PFLAG float who gets to throw condoms and dental dams at everyone as we go by.

    - Ark

  18. Alexis, I'm sure there's room on the Hill Canton's bandwagon for you to post some of the techniques that make your D&D table awesome.

    "Use the real world as the model. No made-up fantasy world will ever match the real world in depth and history."

    But what's different about your DMing approach - when the players are seated in front of you, the hall is rented, the orchestra is engaged, and then it's time to dance?

  19. Beedo, I enjoy the heck out of your blog and have frequently found nifty ideas to apply to my own games. I appreciate the collegial tone as well.

    For whatever it's worth, my assessment is that you are far, far from a "useless blogger." Thanks for sharing.

  20. I hate parades, but man I love watching bloggers go at it over messages.