Sunday, July 8, 2012

Is the battle the game or is the story the game?

I read AD&D forum posts with great interest.  Some of the information I agree with, some  I disagree with, some is of no interest to me and some make me stop and think about it.

One thing I think about more and more is related to the posts regarding initiative and melee combat.

It's my observation that the folks who really get into the minute details of initiative are those for whom the battle is a or "the" primary part of the gameplay.

Those who seek "simpler" initiative and melee rules are seemingly those for whom the battle is but a brief part of the game overall.

In other words, for some people, the battles are the point of the game, the rest is just dressing.  For others, the role-playing and storyline are the point of the game and the battles are but one part of a bigger story.

There are players I divide into "role players" and "battle managers".  The "role-player wants to have a purpose.  Rescue someone, overthrow someplace, obtain an item, etc...  The "battle managers" are those who track every weapon attribute, they only see the next battle or opponent ahead of them and live for the adventures in which the battle and it's rewards are the purpose of the adventure.  To defeat an army, to kill monsters, to loot a town, etc...

I'm not saying either is bad or good, right or wrong.  It's the thing that makes different game players get into the game.

For a DM however, You have to know your players.  You want to try to have something in it for everyone.  What's the point of writing a great story/game if no one wants to play it? 

I am a storyline player and DM.   I run campaigns as having places that PC's go to and stay at.  Then during their interactions in the towns, etc.. they hear rumors and are approached for hire or see a wanted sign with a reward, etc...  With that, they decide what they want to pursue and we are on the way to another adventure.

Sometimes the adventure is to capture someone, to kill something, to rescue someone, to recover lost or stolen treasure, who knows, the possibilities are endless.

For each rumor they hear, each poster they see, each potential employer that approaches them, I have an adventure already written and ready to go for whichever they choose.

I think this gives my players opportunities to have a bit of each storyline and battle oriented adventures.

For battle oriented adventures,  I tend to pay more attention to weapon attributes, initiative dependencies and other details.  For these adventures, the battles are the stories they will tell their drinking companions at an inn or tavern over a few drinks.  These are the stories bards sing of because of their great heroics and abilities of the combatants.

For story oriented adventures,  I tend to use initiative and battle rules that are simpler and move the game play along toward the next step of the story.  These are the fables and tales that will be told by story-tellers of how the day was won, the victims rescued and the treasures claimed.

So,  I see value in both approaches.   I understand the value in knowing the weight and speed of a weapon.  Of knowing if one is using a weapon they are familiar with or is one they have trained with most of their life.

So, it's ok to have a preference as a player and I think even as a DM. Having said that, For a DM to provide a better game experience for all the players who may be a their table, it can be a good thing to step outside your comfortable zone and be able to give the players a different experience and really button them down on their combat mechanics or pay more attention to long range travel plans and trekking or mapping or interacting with NPC's.

It doesn't have to be one or the other.  It can be a bit of this and a bit of that.

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