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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Too Much Abstraction

I found myself uttering these words during last Friday's game and they bear repeating: "ignore the dice, don't rely on them. Use your imagination to decide what to do, not the dice." Perhaps the expression of roleplaying games these days, as with everything else in our society today, is so over-described so the lowest common denominator can comprehend. I don't really know... just a theory. I do know that too much abstraction does get in the way of simply imagining. Case in point, the party was in the midst of a starting encounter when I described: a sharp temperature drop in the area, a stench of death, and the tiny hairs on the back of their necks standing up. The response was for one of the players to eventually and directly ask me, "is it a ghost?" I of course declined to answer.

No where in the rules does it say a ghost causes these things to happen, but I found the need to offer some mythological hints, so as to "play fair" with my less experienced group. Is it that we become so reliant on rules that we can't do what we used to do in the days of AD&D and refer to our own body of common knowledge or even physics? I also had to decide if a pteranodon could carry an extra 200 lbs. worth of character (a druid/monk). She'd decided to to take a wild ride. Sure, I could have looked on the silly carrying capacity tables, but ultimately it was more fun to say yes and just allow the druid to attempt the ride and use her wild empathy to befriend the pteranodon. I did make it difficult for the monster to ascend though. I didn't need the rules to decide for me.

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