thread: 2006-10-05 : Reward systems

On 2006-10-10, ffilz wrote:

Euro: It's interesting that you seem to think that modern D&D is different from the old... Leveling up as an expression of "winning" is as old as the game. The emphasis D20 puts on dungeon crawling and tactical minis and "winning" is just the game going back to its roots...

Sure, leveling up expands your options, but not really, or not as much as one thinks. I've thought about it a lot, and I've realized most of the expanded options and increased depth is illusory. But knowing that doesn't kill it for me. I still enjoy playing a character for months of play (and perhaps years of play if I ever got a stable enough group of players and a stable enough game).

What's more common is that the increased scope of the characters actually finally introduces some instability into the game, and playing becomes unfun.

Of course that illusory progress does actually turn out to be critical to the fun. I guess that goes back to how important color is, even if it has no mechanical impact. There are also not-so illusory components. Yesterday one orc was a tough fight, today two orcs is an easy fight. But it was interesting to see, when I started running Cold Iron, where the monsters all had levels also, that even though the 1st level PCs would fight 10 1st level goblins, and the 5th level PCs would fight 10 5th level goblins, the feeling of improvement was still there, even though those numbers point out how illusory the improvement is. Of course there were other creatures that did go from hard to easy, and sometimes the 5th level PCs would whup 10 goblins because those 10 were 1st level goblins.

Vincent is right though, it's the whole process. And that process includes mechanical elements, color elements, plot elements, and more. And those non-mechanical changes are just as or more important than the mechanical changes. I see a lot of people expressing worry about the effect of mechanical changes in Dogs in the Vinyard, especially if people just improve improve improve. In my mind, they're missing the point of the game, or just projecting their experience with other games. Because it's not the mechanical changes that are important, but the thematic changes that reflect the address of premise creating theme.



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