Friday, October 30, 2009

Scaling an Encounter: Why you should not.

I could have worded it better. I called scaling an encounter conspiratorial because the GM fudged something to make it fit the Players expectations. Here are my reasons why not, in reply of some accusations.

Before you start spouting fallacy, please ask me what I'm talking about if you do not understand. Because if you do start calling it fallacy before understanding my point then you have already made a judgment on something you do not have complete information about.

I am saying that If there is are a camp of bandits, some wolves, wild boars, a mysterious figure, someone in distress, and a garrison of soldiers in the story/game it doesn't mean that if the PCs get into trouble with them I will scale them to fight the PCs.

They exist independent of the PCs, thus are not defined by them. It is the player's choice to decide to fight them, and in what terms.

Conspirator vs Consequence is an old school concept when they did not make a systems to scale challenges. Basically if there was a dragon in the woods then if the PCs end up there then they might get into trouble with the dragon.

Think about the Idea of the GM scaling the adventure to the PCs. Stuff happens, and it is based on the situation the PCs are at. PCs have an adventure, when the Challenge is Scaled to the PCs and the PCs just jump into it is very different when the PCs Know what they are getting into and Choose to Encounter the Challenge as much as possible in their own terms.

In this situation, the GM actually "Scaling" the encounter is detriment against the Challenge the PCs are supposed to be meeting with their preparation.

if the PCs decide on their own that they want to fight 20 soldiers, they will not fight them head on but possibly divi them up. If the GM influence the soldiers "conspiratorially" that's basically robbing the PCs of the victory they made.

GM intervention of what is "Sporting" on the other hand, is already implied by the Scale of the adventure. If you are 100cp adventurers which is defined as elite but gritty and realistic. So problems and challenges occure in that circumstance.

Take it easy, I provided input, voiced my honest and critical opinion and was constructive about it.


I know there is no way to cover the players actions, the most adaptive plan is one that doesn't try to anticipate what cannot be anticipated.

When you have an Event that begins an adventure reasoning follows and a strategy forms in the players heads. In the course of these strategems, the DM provides information that constantly evolves the Players strategy.

Now instead of figuring out a scaling system, why not develop a feedback system by which the GM will make sure the Players have information to best make their strategic decisions on instead of scaling the encounter for them.

If they Know there are 20 soldiers, then they won't just jump in. If they know the soldiers weren't paid this year, have been harassing the locals for supplies, and have personal matters that are all over the place, then you shift the encounter's parameters and the player's decision making process.

Why not bribe them, why not talk to them and pretend their pay is coming, why not rally the locals against them. etc. You didn't scale the encounter, instead the Players did by adopting a strategy that took advantage of the information the GM provided.

You didn't need to scale the encounter Quantitatively vs Qualitatively you will encounter problems in terms of consistency and expectation. An active effort to solve a problem ideally promotes players to gather intelligence instead of making a ton of assumptions. I know it is an aspect style, to feed the players scaled encounters vs letting them shape the encounter by their own resourcefulness but I would like to make sure the option is available before going down this rabbit hole.

Sorry that was basic game theory and project management strategy speaking. They are really useful real world skills and when placed in a game, doubles the fun factor because of the rewarding experience to the player more than just the character.

Original thread


Pete King said...

Brilliant rebuttals and I suspect that your game sessions are something special ;-)

Keith S said...

I recently played in a game where the GM had to jump through a bunch hoops to convince the party that the encounter was NOT scaled. It really took us out of the immersion. Recent developments in D&D seem to have encouraged frontal assault as the primary choice of action. Maybe more evidence of video games encroaching on tabletop gaming.

justin aquino said...

Thanks, I thought the Non-scaling concept too Old School for others to enjoy.

I'm happy to see people agree, not because I said it but because actually reflects a lot about someone's work ethic and perception of the world.

Thanks for the complement. I try to make my games as best it can be, although I do admit that I screw up as much as the next GM, I make sure tho that I learn from it and making my players know that I'm working constantly to be better.