4 comments on “Get Yer Final Fantasy out of my D&D!

  1. Isn’t this just an extension of the ‘care and feeding of your gm’ discussion? I think his argument would come across as stronger if he dropped the “wa” and followed a more “play the more interesting, less optimized” direction. The case is there, sure, but Shwalb sounds too much like he is crying. I’m certain that wasn’t his goal.

    We usually label that guy (the optimization whore) as an unfun douchebag and then human nature and peer pressure clean things up. This seems to produce good players the same way breaking a horse yeilds positive results. Is it wrong of us to allow human nature to do the job? Is it fair to expect a player to change if we are polite instead?

    • Yowch, that’s a pretty harsh reply (to Schwalb, not to me). I think it’s fair to say that, yes, this is an extension of my earlier posts on how the GM is as entitled as the players to enjoy the game. What Schwalb does, however, is discuss some of the specific behaviors that make the game less fun for us. I also enjoy his use of language. “Ur-decks” tickles my fancy.

      I think what you’re missing, though, is the larger context. What you describe as “breaking a horse” is anthropological programming, where we use shaming and shunning (and sometimes outright abuse) to enforce behavior. I’m not going to lie and say that doesn’t happen at my table. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, though. What Schwalb and I are getting at is that the best tables foster a sense of interdependence between the GM and the players. Both sides have responsibilities, not just the GM. There was a phrase rattling around in my head, “The moment your GM feels like a game console is the moment your game starts to suck” but it felt awkward and heavy-handed. It is very true, though, that the idea that the players somehow owe less to the game than the GM is terribly corrosive, but that’s one of the legacies of 3.5/Pathfinder.

      • Alright, I’ve reread it.

        I still hear a lot of crying, but I’m seeing more reason now.

        I generally agree that the optimizing douche bag is not cool. I, however, believe that in most any case where reasonable players are involved the player will burn out on the mechanic and change it on their own. More mature players change it earlier. That is how character development works.

        What I disagree with is how Shwalb says for players to think twice about choosing a power. How can you list brilliant ways to overcome broken mechanics and in the same breath tell the players to make their power choices based on the feelings of others? It sounds like he is crying because the players can keep up with his clever solutions. If it comes to an arms race for broken mechanics, then say something and end the race. That is proper table communication. Do not cry that players are building characters too well.

        I think the comparisons to Magic are Brilliant because it’s true. Both games feed the nerd craving to find and exploit loopholes for the entertaining value of being powerful for 5 minutes. As young nerds, I think we all go through a phase where we learn how abuse can hurt people. Like a clever deck, there is nothing wrong in demonstrating how brilliant a mechanic exploit can be. It becomes wrong when you then abuse the exploit to hurt other players.

        What I think Shwalb really needs to say is “hey, be mature players and don’t abuse those loopholes.”

        On a related note, did you notice the “death saves every other Sunday” thing. I read this as Shwalb is already deep in the arms race with his players. Could he have made this post because he got too deep to handle it and wants out? What do you do when the GM’s version of fun does not line up with what the players enjoy? If the players were not enjoying it, don’t you think they might have already backed down?

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