Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sucking is a Relative Term

Yesterday the Rhetorical Gamer blog referenced my Just Above Suck in a post called I Don't Wanna Suck!  (loved the title) I can appreciate the sentiment not to suck, especially if your expectation is to be a world changing hero.  But I think she (I am only assuming the poster is female because she mentioned writing a romantic fantasy rpg, so I am just playing the odds) doesn't understand how an old school type game world works.  Rob over at Bat in the Attic referenced my blog yesterday as well, but from the angle I am taking today.

Suck is a relative term.  And my explanation to my newbie players was not to crush their spirits, but I let them know this will be an old school hex crawl.  As I explained to one of the guys who is excited to play, "This is a hex crawl, I don't level out the encounters so they are balanced.  If you try to go hero on a red dragon while you are 1st level, grab 4d6 roll and leave out the lowest number six times and tell me what you want your new character to be."  So against high level opponents you will suck.  But against a goblin you have a great chance.  You won't suck.  It's all relative.

As I said in my comment in her post, I know the players will have fun.  I have had tons of fun while I sucked during a game.  My players will have just as much fun killing a group of drunken goblins as they would storming the gates of Mordor and pissing on the tower Sauron.


  1. Frosting the drunken goblins might be easier, but I think pissing on Sauron's tower ought to be worth much more XP!

  2. Tim, you may want to check both those assumptions (that Morrison doesn't understand Old School, and that he's a she just because he writes about romantic fantasy rpgs.)

    I get the impression you're off on both.

  3. I sure may be off on those two things, but it doesn't change the message of my post. I used that post as my fuel for this one. I thouht Mossison's blog was good and the reason I bounced off of it. To me that's a good thing.

    If I am off on both I have no trouble saying so. But you saying I may be off on both doesn't make it so.

    But it's not the point of the post. I could take both those assumtions out and my post would still stand as is. i just wanted to show where I got it from. Like I said, not a bad thing.

  4. If you try to go hero on a red dragon while you are 1st level, grab 4d6 roll and leave out the lowest number six times and tell me what you want your new character to be.

    Classic. This is exactly what I'm trying to teach my kids when they play. I nearly TPK'd them too--their first experience with D&D was 3.5 adventure that threw them, as 2nd level characters, against a young blue dragon. The adventure was written so that they'd win. (And I confess, we were too far into the adventure before I realized it; my bad.) I'm trying to teach them that this ain't the norm.

  5. I'm split - I get the "sucking is part of the game" bit about old school gaming. It's totally fine.

    But your post made me realize why I tend to play point-buy systems and often start at greater power levels than normal - I don't always want a game with "suck."

    I think if you come into the game expecting to be Elric, Conan, Legolas, etc. and I say, no, you can't play them unless you manage to survive long enough to be like them . . . I might not want that in a game.

    Personally I like both - sometimes I want to craft a serious experienced character, and sometimes I want to be just above suck and see if I survive. Both are valid choices, based on the standard of "Peter likes both choices." ;)

  6. Ha, I am with you there Peter. Sometimes its fun to start out at a higher level or point base, but most of the time that only means the opponents are just that much more difficult.

    There is no one way to have fun. If players want to higher level go for it. Important thing is to have fun.

    And its interesting how much of a reaction this post and the other has gotten. I was just being a smartass to them (which they are very used to). It was just my way of saying everyone is starting out at 1st level. I just thought my version was better.

  7. Even if you start at a higher base the referee can always pull out something something bigger and badder. In otherwise there always a bigger fish.

    The onus is on the referee to craft an interesting campaign regardless of the base power level.