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RE: (TFT) word value
> You just can't do all of this in 32 attributes and
> have it make sense to the D&D player.
and later ...
> My D&D friends have different expectations.
Yes. Expectations is the perfect word. Other phrases could be what they are
''familiar with'', or what they are ''used too'' yet these are too passive to
describe the truth of it. Expectation is more active. More anticipatory.
Just as you describe they like the minute details, and I can see why. A layer
of minutia will let a player see clearly when danger is approaching as there
are more concept layers for the threat to get through before actual combat
For the sake of brevity I will now proceed as though everyone agrees that I
too understand and value this finer granularity of more modern RPGs. Don't
try to talk your players out of it. Let them continue to walk on the beaches
they are familiar with.
Consider. A characters' statistics and abilities are a combination of numbers
and words. What I am suggesting is that the rate at which numerical values
are increasing is causing a simultaneous devaluing of word meanings. Said
another way. Math is beating the brains out of vocabulary. Math, numbers,
and formulas have multiplied, propagated, overgrown their original fields and
completely erased the lines of definitions that used to exist between words.
It's excessive and out of balance.
I remember early role playing to be a nice balance between new vocabulary and
new formulas. I am merely bringing a way for GM's to see what their players
do not. Namely that this period of post modern deconstructionism is coming to
an end. Breaking things down to smaller and smaller pieces to see how they
work is almost played out. Coalagulation lies in our future. The ability to
join small pieces together and get a larger result.
In my experience players love it when their designs have positive impact on
the game world. Sadly most players pull together dissimilar elements in a GMs
campaign only to be frustrated and denied the result they wanted. What
motivated GM's to act this way is not germaine. What I'm suggesting is a way
to indulge them, and still maintain a balanced game world.
Let me speak in visual terms now and paint a picture for you. Imagine some
complicated game system as a three dimensional world, with mountains of power
levels, various streams of treasure, and veritable oceans of magic. The
immortal super beings floating over it all in their fortresses made of aether
Now imagine a motive. Do these cloud cities come floating in and cast their
shadow on the players world. Do they strike their favorite magic items with
lightning and disenchant them. Dispatch minions to rob them of their wealth
and kidnap their followers? Or are they more elusive, and non interfering.
Allowing the players to find their own way, and just watching with interested
detachment. Hoping that one day they will rise high enough that they can be
invited to join their ranks.
I'm talking about how you GM your campaign. In my campaign where the players
have confidence that they are being encouraged to grow and gain power. To
climb higher and higher. Defeating greater and greater evils. They have no
problem staring out chained to the wall in the bottom of a dungeon ruled by
some petty tyrant. But in some other campaigns the GM's don't convey that
sense of optimism.
> Similarly, if I'm in a high-lethality game where one bad roll can kill my
PC > right out of the gate, then I can only view my PC as being bugshit crazy>
to even CONSIDER an adventuring career.>
> E. K. B.
> Paragraph 7
Now imagine every GM ever has their own three dimensional world, with
mountains of power levels, streams of treasure, oceans of magic, with cloud
cities of immortals floating over them. An infinity of these worlds existing
in an infinite space. Lets just run all the numerical values right up to the
max. An infinity of infinities. We'll name this space now, to make the
concept easy to discuss. We'll call it hyperspace. A small move in
hyperspace covers thousands of light years. Not so alien when defined this
Now let's personalize it. In the role playing tradition lets give it a
personal name and call it our own. I'll call this one "Cidri", you may wish
to call yours something else. And in this space, since all numbers have
already been run up to infinity, the only thing left. The only way to
distinguish between things. Are the values and meanings of words.
Specifically the tension between the relative value of each individual word
within the entire framework of the whole.
So continue to run your D&D games with the players expected version of the D&D
numbers. Just remember that when you want new ideas, or to visit the tops of
the mountains and see a balanced ecology of word value, a trip through TFT
will server you well. Precise, subtle, yet gentle use of each phrase. A
sense of the balance of the whole system in each nuance. TFT knocked the
mathematical ball out of the park when compared to D&D of the time, we all
know that. But that was a meer byproduct of it's clearer vision of
I suggest that one day players may want to reach that high. When, and if they
do, the GM may find that TFT is already there, on the other side of
hyperspace, waiting for them. He doesn't have to convert them, or even let
them read any of the books. But by having read them any GM is better
prepaired to guide them through with a sense of meaning and understanding
available to few others.
David Michael Grouchy II
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