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Episode 2238: Fair Play is Turnabout

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The GM's job in a game is to be fair. A fair arbiter of the game world and the interactions of the PCs within it, that is. The game world itself doesn't need to be fair.

There's an interesting difference in philosophy with how the latest (5th) edition of Dungeons & Dragons is commonly played, compared to how the early editions were played. The 5th edition rules provide detailed guidelines for building balanced encounters - ones specifically designed to be challenging for the heroes but not too challenging. Published adventures typically adhere to these guidelines, and GMs writing their own adventures are strongly encouraged to do so as well. The result is that players have an expectation that they can wade into any potential combat presented to them, with the assumption that they will most likely prevail.

In contrast, old school style D&D assumed the world was a dangerous place. If you met a hostile group of adversaries, you had to size them up, and decide if it was safe enough to start fighting, or if you should just run. You had to be clever and think of ways to avoid combat, because it was often deadly, rather than just launch an attack every time you encounter some monsters and assume that the fight is balanced in your favour.

Again, there's no wrong or right here. Different groups of players like different things. If you want a combat-heavy game where heroes are unlikely to die, 5th edition is a good match. If you want a grittier feel, with real risk of death at every encounter, then older editions may suit you more.

Commentary by memnarch (who has not seen the movie)

Hehehehehehehee. It's almost like Pete forgot that Ben has been consistently the biggest proponent of maintaining the distinction between player knowledge and character knowledge. Annie would be tied for that role, but I don't believe she's pointed it out as much. Jim, however, is pretty adept at confusion fu. So there's actually a chance Ben might go along with whatever nonsense Jim has in mind. Or at the very least, he won't instantly dismiss it out of hand.

Hmmm. It might just be a different lighting filter, but these panels look like they could indicate a day's worth of time has passed since Rey found Luke and now the sun has come out. Clouds moving could have also been an answer, but the background doesn't seem to have enough shadows to indicate there are any except for the atmospheric haze. The simplest answer would be the scene these panels were taken from was shot on a different day and the editors didn't notice. That doesn't feel exceptionally satisfying though, so hopefully I'll get a better sense of the amount of time jumped when the scene moves to focus on Rey and Luke later.

Transcript

Rey: Wait, wait, wait...
Rey: This encounter isn’t fair!
GM: What do you mean?
Rey: Jim has to convince Ben of the bluff, but Ben knows it’s not really Snoke.
Rey: I was always fair to all of you in my fantasy campaign. Despite what happened.
GM: Allan, as played by Jim, has to convince Hux, as played by Ben.
GM: Even though Ben knows the truth, there’s a chance that Hux could be deceived. And Ben knows that and will roleplay accordingly: logically and fairly.
Rey: Hmm.
Rey: Okay, I take it back.
Rey: You guys are so doomed.


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Published: Thursday, 01 December, 2022; 01:11:09 PST.
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