Monday, April 30, 2018

Grinding is, well, a grind

SYSTEM: Any

So with my daughter and her friends, I'm running them through a seriously crocked version of Temple of Elemental Evil, and they're in the moathouse. And I'm finding that there's a lot of fun in the I've-got-seven-hit-points-oh-god-let's-not-fight and I-fumbled-my-roll-again-how-can-a-d20-roll-1-this-often. So there's a lesson for me, because I hated the zero-to-hero process in D&D. Once my character was up to fifth level, great. (I hated the system mastery required in 3, 3.5, and 4, but finding 5E okay.)

But.

But the stuff here in the moathouse in this adventure is seriously old school, and not in a good way. "We are exploring the moathouse for our friend, who fell through the floor where we couldn't see, because if the ceiling can't take a gnome, it sure isn't going to take an elf, a halfling, and two humans (one in plate).

It is grinding. Enter the room, see the monster, kill the monster (or blow up the room: they've exploded two rooms so far; it's becoming our motif), recover your hearing (ad hoc rule: CON save, DC is 5 points per d6 of explosion; every point you miss by is another ten minutes of deafness, whole thing can be mitigated by smart playing, like covering your ears), on to the next.

It is, quite accurately, a grind.

And it bores me.

Now, the reason this is SYSTEM: Any and not SYSTEM: D&D is because I noticed that the podcast I was doing for BAMF suffered from some of the same problem. Time was tight, so we did the combat and only a little bit more.

And that isn't satisfying for me. I can totally understand if that's your jam: hard week at work and all you wanna do is win over some monsters (sing that Cindi Lauper song: "Girls...just wanna slay orcs!"). I see the appeal.

But it's kind of a bore to me. As GM, I can nuke the party or make it a cakewalk if I want. I think that combat is necessary: it's one of the domains where you can be scrupulously fair, and it's important to be fair, to look fair. (Not necessarily the same thing; I mean both.)

But conversation, and consequences, are where a lot of the fun lives for me.

So the superhero adventure that I'm currently writing can be totally sidestepped by saying the right things.

(And when you listen to the first BAMF podcast, you'll notice a part where Sable Lynx's actions stop every villain but one, who throws a person into the water tank...because I wanted to establish the presence of sharks. For later. Because the combat is necessary, and I wanted sharks with frickin' lasers.)