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5e dnd combat on twitch and "good plays"

dungeons-and-dragons

(Typoko) #1

I was wondering how long it will take before the players in broadcasted games start doing "good plays" in the same sense that players do in other games at higher level of competitiveness or will it ever end up being a thing? What i'm getting at with this is that there are a lot of 5e games that are being broadcasted and rarely in them in combat the players try to explore the possibilities of role playing games being able to allow anything or at least try it. Or is this just too much to expect as a lot of players struggle with basic mechanics so how could they go beyond them? Is this already happening and i'm just being blind or missing out on hot action?

With "good plays" i mean in the moment actions that aren't just basic good play that takes advantage of basic class mechanics. Also the result of the "good play" might end up backfiring but the motion of trying something that is a great idea that wasn't clear for everyone. A crazy savant of this would most certainly be iNcontrol, but that might be a bit too much on the crazy side. :wink: More like something that is staying mostly within the known rules and adapting those rules. An example could be using a Thundrewave to crumble a wall of an old building to break a choke point at the door. It might be that the whole building ends up collapsing or only the doorway so that it doesn't help the situation, but it might have helped.

Sure, many of the times when someone tries something different it ends up backfiring compared to a more standard action. It's still something that i think is a key part in tabletop RPG to delineate it away from a computer game and making it much more.

I haven't watched Critical Role for more than a dozen episodes, but from what i remember they had the taught of this on lockdown while Mercer worked as the arbiter of ideas. They surely are more experienced players than many streamers or YT personalities and went off the cuffs with rules, but DnD has been a thing for several years already. Still many of the people in 5e are creative but stay confined to a strict set of rules when it's go time. As we are also talking about shows, it's good to remember that things like this can make it more of an show rather than a dice fest. Don't get me wrong, i like me some good dice fest, but still there can be some color to it. :stuck_out_tongue:

I'd like to think that to garner more of this there should be something that encourages to it so people would get out of the restraints. I know Inspiration is a mechanic that tries to help, but let's be honest... most of the players forget about it or don't know how it works. To propose something for RollPlay, it might be a good idea to have some kind of a extra XP poll for characters like Mirrorshades had.


(SuperSealion) #2

First of all I would love to see some mechanisms that do encourage this, and we do see this style of gameplay quite often in Nebula Jazz, but it doesn't seem to be quite what you're describing as it's inherent to the Fate Accelerated rule set.

Personally I think it comes down to two main factors. First of all, it is often much more difficult to use abilities to 'break the rules', by which I mean using an ability for something other than straight damage. The reason being that D&D in particular is all about dealing damage to enemies rather than using the environment to 'cheat' at a fight. It allows it (it's all in your mind after all :grin:) but it doesn't have any mechanical reinforcement. As a result there is a clear distinction between the combat mechanics and the world/narrative stuff, and many players don't stray beyond those two binary :adamwizard: methods of thinking. If they're in combat then they're punching face, if they're out of combat then maybe they will think of something different and more interesting. A great example of this is dropping the statue onto the Owlbear in West Marches, they were out of combat and had time to think it through and plan it. By design combat in 5E requires players to manage their resources and the rules, and when tracking and planning their next move it's so easy to just not think about 'what if I did this instead of going face?'

With D&D, and CoS/WM in particular, there is a major emphasis on mechanical difficulty and character death. I think that even were the cast to have some of these ideas, then they would be reluctant to try it because it is so easy to die in those games. And death means the loss of progress and needing to make a new character, which they don't necessarily want to do. In fact we saw this to an extent with JP in CoS when he considered collapsing the temple onto the enemy, though admittedly that would have been a really bad idea. Experimentation requires a safe space to experiment after all, that's as true in TTRPGs as it is in meatspace.

You also have to consider the cast. The majority of cast members stream video games, and usually video games don't reward or even allow this style of emergent gameplay: you can fireball the wall all day but all it will do is give it a scorched texture. The types of thinking between TTRPGs and video games are so drastically different because video games have to adhere to their coding, and playing video games as a job will set those cast members into a particular, video gamey, way of thinking which can be difficult to break.

I forgot how much I love thinking about this player psychology shit :itmejplol:


(VyRe40) #3

Mechanical mastery is a bit slower to develop when you only play one class at relatively low levels for 4 hours per week (at most), and only half of that play time is combat. It's also somewhat secondary to the appeal of RPGs, both as a show and in private. The emphasis of RPGs is the creative exercise of the experience. D&D is heavily codified as a combat game, but the combat is still highly variable.

Consider: you could do a whole show that's just RP, but you wouldn't have as much of a compelling viewing experience if an entire show was just rolling monsters and crunching character stats. If you want an entertaining exercise in mechanics, there's multiplayer video games. Combat in D&D only really gets exciting because it enriches the story around it.

But yes, mechanical proficiency can be a nice addition to a viewing experience, it's just not the top priority for players so it falls by the wayside. And hey, they try, and they have gotten much better over the course of CoS.


(Typoko) #4

I feel like most of the more fluid systems work a lot better for combat than 5e in a show perspective. Nebula Jazz is a great example of this but alas i don't have time or patience to follow every RPG show. I also think that most of 5e shows work well outside of combat. It's just that the 5e combat can easily derive in to straight lines.

Going face is also effective way of getting results which leads in to results and satisfaction. It's a hard line to walk on to make it work. :sweat:

While there certainly isn't any safe space in CoS, i tend to find these kinds of plays could do more help than harm. Sure, first it could lead in to more harm than good, but eventually the safe space could develop around basic ideas that have worked before. One example could be to try to work out a way to provide lighting in combat. I don't necessarily mean the problem where chat can't see the map, but rather the opposite. Many times shots come from the darkness and with this one good trick is to have Light spell on something that can be thrown instead of a shield. Shiny rock can then be thrown in to the general direction of the enemies to light them up. In best case scenario now they can't see you and you can see them.

Character death during shows is understandably even more of an issue than it is for private games. Assets, creation of new character and fan commitment are something that one has to keep in mind. :confused:

While many of the cast have their roots in computer games, i don't feel like many of them are restricted to straight forward thinking. Like you mentioned before, Nebula Jazz is riddled with crazy things, but that is what the system is built for and requires from players. Maybe 5e provides too clear rules that are efficient enough to follow so straying from that is a bit too much of an ask. While not 4e, 5e is still rather computer gamey.


(Karamor) #5

I'd say Nebula Jazz works for that group because the rules requirements are minimal.
It's in many ways barely a step above "roll a die".
Apart from that anything you can justify works.

On the other hand when they played BoP, players had the same problems grasping the, quite complicated, (combat) rules of that system and mainly people did and tried things similar to what they do now in NJ.


(Typoko) #6

It doesn't strike to me as mechanical mastery but rather adaptation of basic skills in RPG. To me creative play is key to the appeal of RPGs as a show and in private. Different strokes for different folks. While i agree that most of the DnD rules are focused on combat mechanics, i don't see it as being confined to it but more like focused on it. And i feel like the most of the 5e shows i have watched i don't have problems with things happening outside of combat and this is the reason why i think there is much room for improvement as 5e can be rather combat heavy if played to the strengths of the system.

I'm not sure we are talking about the same thing or at least my point has not come across correctly. I'm all for creative and narrative play. I want less direct combat and more creative actions during combat than just smashing basic attacks or spells. Combat in DnD can be exciting by itself but i agree that as a show the most exciting stuff can be the narrative as it's less volatile. But on the other hand, there are times like the current arc in CoS where the first epsiode was mostly combat. There isn't that much of an story yet so something else needs to spice things up. I gotta say that the fight ended up being rather crazy show, but at least for me it dragged out a bit too long and it could have been helped by few creative plays.

Level of play in CoS is godlike compared to what it has been. Character deaths that have lead in to new characters have rarely lead in to the same player playing a same kind of a character and thus they need to learn the ropes again. Now with them going around for a second time on the same basic mechanics it's much better.


(Typoko) #7

To me BoP felt like a good amount of creativity from what i can remember. But yes, a lot of fumbling in that system came from it being rather complicated. Using movement to gain the appropriate range and remembering to take cover were big things.

That system had the stunt possibility for a light point that made it possible to do things outside of normal rules. Could this be used in a game like CoS where the fates of the world and favor of gods are shifting and by giving an advantage to DM one can act a bit more freely? :wink: Uhh... more convoluted systems might not work out as intended. :stuck_out_tongue:


(SuperSealion) #8

While there certainly isn't any safe space in CoS, i tend to find these kinds of plays could do more help than harm. Sure, first it could lead in to more harm than good, but eventually the safe space could develop around basic ideas that have worked before. One example could be to try to work out a way to provide lighting in combat. I don't necessarily mean the problem where chat can't see the map, but rather the opposite. Many times shots come from the darkness and with this one good trick is to have Light spell on something that can be thrown instead of a shield. Shiny rock can then be thrown in to the general direction of the enemies to light them up. In best case scenario now they can't see you and you can see them.

It could absolutely do more good than harm in many situations; however it is a gamble. And rolling the dice like that isn't always worth it when the risks go beyond the boundaries of the game, as you said, you do need to look at it as a show with assets and real life costs involved. I'm not very familiar with Critical Role (or the business side of Rollplay) but from my understanding CR can afford to take those risks because they don't need to commission art and they don't need to schedule character creation videos. That said, I don't think that it is a primarily financial/business decision for anybody (expect for maybe JP), but more a subconscious thought of 'I don't really want to make another character this month'.

While many of the cast have their roots in computer games, i don't feel like many of them are restricted to straight forward thinking. Like you mentioned before, Nebula Jazz is riddled with crazy things, but that is what the system is built for and requires from players. Maybe 5e provides too clear rules that are efficient enough to follow so straying from that is a bit too much of an ask. While not 4e, 5e is still rather computer gamey.

I should have added that I think that the video game mentality is an initial barrier to roleplaying that players outgrow as they adjust to the more expressive nature of TTRPGs.

But it definitely varies from player to player. I wouldn't expect Jesse Cox to conform to that linear style of play, but perhaps for players who prefer the more mechanical side of games (both video and tabletop) it maybe isn't something that they think about unless in a dire situation; as they may see Fireball to be just as cool as more creative options. Just like in video games, some players will enjoy making elaborate plans and some players will charge in screaming.