Hey, Conflicts are Really Complicated!

You are going to get a lot of disconnects because so many people that thought they played [older] D&D were playing something quite different due to heavily jury rigged rules and largely ignored rule books, or entirely misremember what it was they were playing and how it moved. shrug

I still play a lot of D&D (though yes, it’s heavily jury rigged), and I get a feeling there is a disconnect in this thread between those who mean D&D 3rd Ed or later, which is indeed heavily into combat and min-maxing (or at least, it can be), and earlier versions of D&D which, as far as I gather, inspired this game.

In basic D&D, combat is very much something to be avoided, and if necessary to approach with extreme efficiency - it is very deadly, and is not the object of the game. The game is about exploration, finding treasure and, above all, staying alive.

I think this is part of the problem my group is experiencing. The vast majority of their experiences is some edition of D&D (though I did turn them onto DCC RPG, which has been a breath of fresh air in comparison).

I’m going to address some of the issues at the top of the next session to help them better understand the spirit of the game. Here’s my bullet point list and how I’m going to frame it all:

-Whereas most games use the turn as a unit of action or time, this game uses it as a unit of drama. The turn clock advances whenever you roll the dice and you only roll the dice when there is a risk of failure or someone/something stands in the way of what you want.

-The above point is doubly true when one considers the way you advance: playing up or against the dramatic parts of your character (Belief’s, Instincts, Traits, etc).

-When drama arises, we are inevitably going to find ourselves in one kind of conflict or another. Whereas in D&D, the default assumption is that all physical encounters are life-threatening, that is not the case here. When you express intent, you are effectively telling me what you are willing to risk to overcome this obstacle. Kill conflicts mean this is worth your life, so you may want to think twice about risking it for a bunch of Goblins who just as easily be captured (and then killed) or Driven Off, or convinced that they should just let you by because if it does come to blows you WILL just kill them. Likewise, capture and Pursue conflicts tell me you are willing to risk your prey escaping; convince conflicts, that you are willing to risk your opponent thinking/doing the opposite of what you want.

I also am going to put a scene pretty much every gamer is going to be familiar with into TB terms for them. When the Fellowship entered the mines of Moria and were cornered in Balin’s Tomb, they did not enter a Kill conflict, but rather a Drive Off Conflict to stand their ground. They succeeded , but with a compromise: realizing they were outmatched, the Goblins brought in a Cave Troll. At that point, they entered a kill conflict to defeat it. Again, they succeeded, but not without compromise. The noise from these conflicts awoke a far greater threat, once they could neither kill nor hope to stand their ground against: the Balrog. So they entered a Flee conflict in hopes they might get away.

For the convince conflict, make sure you also stress that they are risking obligations. It’s not just that failing a convince conflict means the enemy doesn’t do what you want, it can also mean that you are obligated to do what they want, if I recall correctly.

Can they initiate another conflict if they lose (even if it is leave us alone and never come back as the failure consequence) and try to kill or capture them? Kind of like losing a DoW in BW, where you can effectively turn to physical confrontation?

Depends what the convince conflict was about, if the enemy was trying to convince them to go away and never come back, then I think even in BW they’d have to abide by that if they lose the conflict. After all, they have been convinced to go away and never come back. I’m not 100% sure about this though. As a GM I wouldn’t want this to permanently restrict their actions, so I would probably attach some contingencies or limitations to any agreement that comes out of a convince. Maybe they can start a physical confrontation, but to do so would make them outlaws in the eyes of the powers that be, and close them off from entering most towns until they pay some kind of restitution. I don’t have enough experience to draw on to give a better answer than that, but that’s my take on it.